Editing functions not well integrated
You'll have no trouble capturing video footage from a DV camera into MediaStudio. Just connect the DV camera or VCR to your computer's FireWire port, set the start and stop point for your footage, and hit the software's Record button. Or use the File menu to import graphics and audio from other sources. If you run into trouble, contact Ulead's speedy and courteous Tech support via phone Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST or send a message via the tech support Web site.
Like its competition, MediaStudio uses a timeline interface that resembles a musical score; each line represents a video or audio track. However, rather than letting you edit video and audio and create text graphics in one application, MediaStudio breaks these functions out into three separate programs: Video Editor, Audio Editor, and CG Infinity. Although you can create a simple title within Video Editor, to create, say, an animated title, you must open CG Infinity, create the title, then import it into the Video Editor. Other midrange editors integrate their functions much better, and we don't appreciate the extra time it takes to switch back and forth among applications.
Transition and graphics extravaganza
And although Media Studio gives you some control over the length and position of its transition effects, there's no direct way to adjust the keyframes (time markers that indicate when you want an effect to start and stop), which let you control how the effect changes through time. MediaStudio 6.0's vast array of transitions, however, are impressive and range from traditional effects, such as a standard Dissolve, to more complex effects, such as Burn, which simulates a frame of film melting.
If you want to add fabulous graphics effects to your video, you'll love MediaStudio 6.0's unique Video Paint tool. Video Paint allows you to rotoscope, (paint or draw) basic images on video frames, one frame at a time. (Think of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. When Bob Hoskins had cartoon smoke coming out of his ears, it was rotoscoped one frame at a time.) Granted, there are many sophisticated rotoscope apps on the market, such as Pinnacle Systems Commotion 3.0, but Video Paint adds sufficient oomph to your productions, without you having to drop that extra $500.
Smart rendering; sluggish previews
Once you've completed a project, you may want to preview the video before you put it through the time-consuming rendering process. MediaStudio's Smart Render function speeds up the whole preview process by rendering only the changes you have made to your program. (Premiere has a similar function.) Unfortunately, the previews themselves drag. All of the other apps we reviewed clock faster preview speeds. When you're ready to output your finished video, MediaStudio lets you save the file in QuickTime, AVI, Real, Windows Media, and MPEG-2 formats, to name a few.
Overall, MediaStudio is a workable, Windows-based video editor, although we wish Ulead would integrate all of the apps' components into one program. For now, we think Premiere 6.0's enhanced feature set and editing controls make it a better choice for serious video editors.