Corel’s Ulead VideoStudio 11 makes video editing a simple step-by-step process, whether you just want to quickly transfer a tape to a DVD or create an elaborate video production using multiple clips, custom soundtracks, and overlay effects.
VideoStudio 11 comprises three main areas: the DV-to-DVD Wizard, which automates burning DV tapes to disc; the Movie Wizard, a basic editor that’s handy for creating quick movies or DVD slide shows; and the full VideoStudio editor. Even the full editor is easy to use, with menu items along the top arranged to walk you through the edit process step-by-step.
As you’d expect from a product that’s reached its 11th version, VideoStudio 11 is packed with features. Several automatic filters simplify cleaning up problem footage: DeSnow removes noise from low-light videos and snowy TV recordings, while DeBlock helps eliminate obvious compression artifacts. The program also provides automatic filters for correcting color tone and white balance. And the antishake option helps eliminate camera unsteadiness in your footage, a key feature missing in earlier versions.
VideoStudio doesn’t provide as many transitions, effects, and text overlays as Pinnacle Studio 11does, but the ones that are here generally look more professional than Studio’s often-dated effects. Overlay features are particularly slick: You can superimpose not only stills and videos on your footage, but also elaborate Flash animations. On the editing front, you’ll find a function to automatically detect commercial breaks in recorded TV shows, making the ads easier to remove. And VideoStudio 11 has a batch converter, a feature many video editors lack, though we wish it allowed you to save presets (for video size, compression rate, and the like) for common target formats.
Performance is good, and VideoStudio takes advantage of dual-core processors to speed rendering. (New in this version: You can pause rendering when you need CPU resources for a different program.) The program did get choppy when previewing HD content with multiple video filters active, but overall, the program was reliable in our tests. It never crashed, though we did get a couple of “unable to encode video” errors that offered no further explanation.
VideoStudio 11 is also available in a Plus version. For an additional $30, Plus offers high-definition (HD) video authoring, including Advanced Video Codec High Definition (AVCHD) support for newer video cameras and the ability to burn HD DVD (but not Blu-ray) discs. You can even burn short HD movies to standard writable DVD discs, though these hybrid discs aren’t supported by all HD DVD players.
The Plus version also adds a number of animated opening sequences, enhancements to the timeline, support for Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, and the ability to render MPEG-4 and H.264 video. Also in the box is the WinDVD 8 Silver player, which supports HD (including AVCHD) playback. And while the basic version of VideoStudio provides excellent support for transferring video to portable players—you can create files for Pocket PCs, smartphones, and Zune WMV—the Plus version adds iPods, PSPs, and Zune MPEG-4 to the list.
The basic version of VideoStudio 11 is an excellent, easy-to-use program for creating standard-definition videos, and the extra $30 for the Plus version is well-spent if you have an HD camcorder or you want to create videos for portable players.