Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X6 review
UPDATED: Corel has drawn our attention to a couple of points regarding the tracking features that were inaccurately described in our original review. The review below has been updated accordingly
VideoStudio has always had a homely feel, but has never been short of eye-catching features. This latest update has made minimal changes to the core functions and introduced some interesting new features, such as Motion Tracking and Stop Motion.
You can create stop-motion animations using a digital SLR, with a live preview and remote capture via USB. Only Canon SLRs are supported at present, with 18 models dating back to the 450D, but we've been told that support for Nikon cameras is to come.
The Stop Motion feature provides comprehensive remote control over exposure settings, white balance, autofocus point and capture resolution. An Onion Skinning feature overlays the current and previous frames to show how much movement there is, but it was a little confusing that the live view didn't give a depth of field preview. We can't blame Corel for that, though. Overall, the new stop motion features are superb, and makes VideoStudio Ultimate X6 great for Canon SLR owners with lots of time on their hands.
The other major new feature is Track Motion. It starts by defining a point or area to track, whereupon the software traces its movement around the frame. It worked quickly and accurately in our tests, but it's not possible to make manual corrections when errors inevitably creep in. Still, it's not too hard to start a new tracked point, picking up where the first went wrong.
The tracking data can be used to guide a rectangular area with a mosaic effect applied, giving a pixelated appearance to hide details such as faces or car number plates. Alternatively, the tracking data can used to animate a placeholder image file that hovers over or near the tracked subject.
A Replace Clip command swaps the placeholder with your choice of image or video file, including images with alpha transparency for non-square shapes. There's a small selection of speech bubbles, cartoon hats and balloons ready to adorn your videos with, and it's easy to generate your own using image-editing software.
The Replace Clip command doesn't work for text objects, but swapping placeholders for text is achieved by holding down the Ctrl key while dragging them into place. Alternatively, text can be locked to a tracking path using the Match Motion right-click command. This is perfect for making text hover near a subject and follow its every move, which is probably the most effective use of the Track Motion feature.
The Match Motion dialog box also includes an additional layer of animation controls to customise the offset, size, rotation, opacity, shadow and border of tracking objects. It's even possible to skew the corners to give a sense of perspective, and to define curved paths between keyframes. These animation tools can be used without tracking too, and are far more capable than VideoStudio X5's ragtag assortment of functions for moving clips around the frame.
They could still be better, though. The last keyframe can't be deleted, so we had to copy and paste keyframes to avoid problems. Because the various parameters all share a single keyframe lane, they tend to get tangled up with each other, making it hard to accomplish fluid, organic-looking movement.
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