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Serif MoviePlus X6 review

Ben Pitt
18 Jul 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
61
inc VAT

With precise, efficient timeline editing and superb preview performance, this editor gets the most important things spot on

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Specifications

Serif is to software development what Madonna is to pop music: relentlessly ambitious, not shy about taking inspiration from others, a little patchy at times but, every now and again, capable of producing a gem. MoviePlus X6 is one of those occasions when everything has come together.

Serif MoviePlus X6 Blend

Blend modes and the ability to group tracks together open up all sorts of creative approaches to layering clips

The software includes numerous features that are normally reserved for software costing 10 times as much. It supports unlimited tracks. Video tracks can be grouped together, with one acting as a mask for another – just the thing for making video appear inside text. It supports blend modes for combining the colours in clips in complex ways – a common feature for image editors but rare among video editors.

It also offers features that, for us, are crucial for an efficient editing experience. These include comprehensive control over ripple editing, whereby clips move along the timeline to close gaps or make space when earlier clips are edited. Overlapping two clips on the timeline automatically creates a dissolve transition between them. Dragging the edge of a clip while holding down the Ctrl key changes its playback speed to fit its new length.

The ability to preview the timeline without dropping frames is the single most important ingredient for a successful editing experience, and MoviePlus pulls out all the stops to make this happen. It fared well in our standard preview performance test, playing back five simultaneous AVCHD streams on our Core i7 870 PC. Its resource management prioritises user input, so the controls never became sluggish even for highly complex timelines.

A Pre-render function caches complex sections of the timeline as a temporary file to enable smooth playback. Vegas and Premiere Elements have similar features, but MoviePlus's is easier to manage and, unlike Vegas, doesn't require pointless re-rendering when the sections are moved. MoviePlus also includes a proxy editing mode, whereby HD clips are swapped for lower quality copies to take the strain off the PC while editing, reverting to the originals for export. It's a crucial feature for editing HD video on slower PCs, and one that's notably absent from Sony and Adobe's editors.

Serif MoviePlus X6 3D

The 3D transform controls can help titles interact with the perspective in the underlying video

None of these features are new to version X6, and in previous reviews our enthusiasm was tempered by some notable gaps in MoviePlus's feature list. Blu-ray authoring is now included, though, and there's also an option to burn AVCHD discs. These contain Blu-ray-quality video but use cheap DVD media and writers, and play in most set-top Blu-ray players.

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