Corel Video Studio Pro X4 – Video Editing Software Review

Corel Video Studio Pro X4 – Video Editing Software Review

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We talk about video, how to get it online, how to help people find it. But we rarely ever talk about the software for actually making, editing and putting it all together. So I got my hands on some video editing suites including the Corel Video Studio Pro X4. Since I just recently got a cool full HD Panasonic HDC-SD7 I have a lot of HD video footage I needed to compress, edit and show off. So I got down to work.

Begin at the Beginning

With all the video footage I had, the first thing I needed to do, of course, was get it into the program. When you start up Corel Video Studio Pro X4 (VSX4 from now on) you’re presented with a what’s new guide that also includes some tutorials and a link to the shop for some add-ons (more on that later).

Since the software was supplied for review, I also got a couple add-on packs including:

  • NewBlue Lighting Effects for VideoStudio Pro
  • VSX4 Content Pack
  • VSX4 Pro Bonus Pack

What that means is that I might speak about a piece of creative that isn’t in the original program. I’ll try to be sure to tell you when that happens but I might not always catch it as it’s all integrated when you install it.

A quick VSX4 Walk Through

Loading up VSX4, as I said, drops you right into the core dashboard which consists of three areas, the preview window (upper left), the timeline (below) and your media and effects library (upper right). If you don’t like the standard layout you can move the pieces around to suit your need.

The thing I like about VSX4 is that when you start up you’ve got just about everything you need to get moving right there. Importing media is a breeze and you can organize it by folders (which are just a grouping mechanic in the software and doesn’t actually do anything with the files). So I made a folder for the project I wanted to work on (Easter 2011 – A Czech Train Ride – Liberec to Hradec Kralove) and imported all my clips. The original folder there was samples which was installed with the software and held exactly that, samples of audio and video.

The Library is broken down into: Media, Transitions, Titles, Graphics and Effects. Of those, the graphics library are sort of cheap clip-art that I probably would never use and was quite surprised to find in such a professional looking package. I guess that speaks to the target audience for the product as there are Flash animations like hearts, soccer balls, assorted picture frames and other art that are more at home in home videos than they are in professionally created content and most online video.

The effects library is quite useful and offers a lot of different options that proved useful in my project including old film, monochrome and duotone. There are also more creative and interesting effects as well like simulated camera movement (great for the Star Trek collision scenes), invert (for those Dalek disintegrator ray scenes) and more.

The titles library was a bit sparse but offers the standards like rolling credits, static text and others. You can see one of my favorites used in the beginning of my project video which assembles the titles by zooming some in from the side and bottom.

The transitions library has more options than I imagined possible and could ever find a use for. Often, I just use a standard fade in/out but every once in a while like a push/pull transition but found myself wanting to use some others. It just didn’t fit for what I wanted on this project but might in the next one.

Plus, if you can’t find exactly what you need, you can combine pieces to make it (like my silent film intro and passage through time in the video). You can also download add-ons both free and paid to increase the offerings in the program. The thing I didn’t like about the add-ons was that you have to download and install one at a time so if you want to install a bunch, it will be a lot of wash, rinse repeat for the install processes. Not a big deal, but time consuming.

Also, the interface is not all that intuitive at times. For example, all of the text titles were named “Lorem Ipsum” instead an intuitive name like “rolling credits,” “fly in” or “zoom out” etc. I installed some templates then had to go search through the help to find out how to use them. When I did (it’s called Instant project on the toolbar) I couldn’t find the ones I had installed, again because they had no titles to tell you what they were. What I then found was you have to go to Custom and Import project templates manually (it tells you this when you install them). Again, not very ergonomic.

It sounds like…

VSX4 also has a fair amount of audio options to go with the video. Since audio is often key and complements the video it is attached to this is just as important as the visual presentation. While my project took an almost minimalist approach to sound, I have some others in the works that will be far more robust in that regard. In fact, in the video in this article all the music came from the program with the majority of it, everything after the tunnel with the train sounds, was created dynamically by the program itself after I put some some variables to give guidance on what sound I was looking for. In the samples folder of the library there are a set of music samples and some simple sounds effects (again, none have accurate names so you either have to rename them manually or just know what they are).

I was quite impressed with the range of audio options. Plus, you can always extract the audio from a video clip, edit it up in a program actually made for audio editing and then plug it back into the project and synch it up with the video clip in question. Handy stuff indeed.

New Features Make the Cut

There are some seriously cool new features that I need to talk about even though I didn’t really use them in this project. The two main cool new features are the stop motion animation and the time-lapse photography features. There are some others I didn’t have the tech for but I’ve included below.

Now I didn’t have a camera that would plugin and be recognized (in the middle of an office move from Europe to the US so some things are packed and shipped). So I grabbed some copy from Corel.

Here are some of the most exciting new features in this release:

New! Stop Motion Animation

Create your own animated movie featuring people, toys, clay figures or any object. The Video Studio Pro X4 Stop Motion module is the ideal video and animation play-place for kids and adults alike!

New! Time-Lapse photography

With the VideoStudio Pro X4 Time-Lapse feature, you can make the sun set in seconds or show a day in the life of your neighborhood in just minutes. Start with a video clip and speed it up or remove frames. Or use a series of photos taken at regular intervals and play them in sequence as a movie. A cool effect, made easy.

New! 3D movies—glasses included!

Save your 2D movies in 3D or upload them to YouTube 3D, then watch them with your free 3D glasses! (Glasses in box version only)

New! Advanced upscaling

VideoStudio Pro X4 lets you make regular video outstanding. Enhance the quality of standard definition video and upscale it to fit your HD display with new high-performance upscaling technology. You can also take advantage of cutting-edge GPU acceleration technology to take standard definition video to near-HD quality in the blink of an eye.

New! Take it with you

Use Smart Package, now with integrated WinZip technology, to combine all the video, photos and audio related to a project in one package, making it easy to move your project to another PC.

The Cutting Room Floor

What I didn’t like about VSX4 was the instability that was displayed, generally crashing and wiping out work that had been done. But it did have a nice auto-save feature (with a 1-60 minute interval) and was even able to recover some lost work. Now it might not be the fault of the software, it might be I was trying to do too much at the same time (one of the other suites I am looking at is also somewhat unstable). So I set the save interval to 3 minutes as I felt that would be a decent enough interval and not lose too much while not being burdensome and slowing down my progress. Even then, the software crashed far more often than I would like and even crashed once while trying to recover the work that I had open during the previous crash. It was almost as if some pieces of the software itself don’t play well together and one would cause the other to stop responding.

The program has a very modular feel to it, like they built a piece, then built another, then another. It gives a sort of disjointed feel at times and even the product manual is up on the web instead of being locally installed. I didn’t see an option asking me to install it so I have to assume that it is standard and always up on the web. So what happens when you’re say, on a train, and haven’t got Internet connectivity and have to find the answer to something? I believe the term S.O.L. applies.

That’s a Wrap

Corel Video Studio Pro X4 is definitely a complete video editing software package. While there are flaws in the ergonomics of the menus and the program tends to crash itself from time to time, I found it rather easy to work with and it has a lot to offer the budding video creator. From the look of some of the effects and items in the library this software is geared much more toward the novice or home video maker than it is toward the mid to high-end power users. Even then, it’s still got a lot of things in it that will help you make some very professional looking video that you can export online, to physical media or just keep on your computer for future viewing. Check out the video I made with the software to see what I mean.

Sure, it’s nothing spectacular but it shows some of what can be done with the software and a limited amount of time. Sorry about the sound towards the end, I’m too lazy to go fix it now…

The basic Corel Video Studio Pro X4 goes for $99.99 ($69 on Amazon) which is a pretty good price for what is on offer. Is it a good deal? I would say so. I recently received a Roxio Game Capture which is a hardware and software solution that retails for the same price and the video editors are comparable. While that one is made to capture, edit and share video game console footage it seems like the easy-to-use video editors for both are comparable. Really, $100 for a full-featured video editing suite isn’t that much to pay whether you’re just going to document the early years of your child’s life or make and share videos of your travels with family and friends. It’s also not a bad deal if you’re going to use it to start your adventure into the world of online video.

Note: I also have a copy of Avid Studio that retails for $169.99 which I will review and compare to this package. That other package seems aimed more at the mid to high-range users I mentioned earlier in comparison.


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