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Corel VideoStudio X8 review

Ben Pitt
1 Apr 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
80
inc VAT

VideoStudio X8 has lots of small improvements, but they're not the ones we were hoping for

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Specifications

OS Support: Windows XP/Vista/7/8, Minimum CPU: Intel Core Duo 1.83GHz (Core i5 recommended), Minimum GPU: 1GB, Minimum RAM: 2GB (4GB recommended), Hard disk space: 3GB

VideoStudio has been a stalwart of consumer video editing since the 1990s. 17 versions in, it has accrued a mass of features but it still manages to maintain its beginner-friendly appearance. The last update was all about improvements to performance and the interface, but this time the focus is on new features and creativity. In practice, there's no headline-grabbing new feature but a decent helping of smaller ones.

New overlay options now sit alongside the existing Mask and Chroma key modes. Gray Key makes pixels on an upper layer more or less visible depending on their brightness. There's precise control over the threshold using five handles on a greyscale bar (the Chroma Key effect gains these controls too) but the slow response to changes didn't help in our efforts to master them. The new Multiply and Add modes are similar to the Blend Modes found in Photoshop, overlaying colours so elements of both clips show through. We were initially thrown by the software's habit of reducing the upper layer's Opacity to 50% by default. 100% tends to work better for these modes. These overlay options would have been ideal for Titles objects but sadly this is not allowed by the software.

VideoStudio X8 Titles Video Mask

^ Make video appear inside titles – but only if you have the patience to study the manual

Another option is to use a video file as a mask, with brightness mapped to opacity – perfect for making video appear inside text. The manual describes how animated titles can be converted into UISX files for this very purpose, but it's a longwinded process and there's zero chance of discovering it unless you happen to read p124 of the online manual. Premiere Elements' Track Matte Key effect allows one video track to be used as a mask for another, which is much more elegant.

Audio ducking is the practice of lowering the volume of an audio source so it doesn't overpower another. Typically it's applied to music to make way for speech. There's a new Audio Ducking option in the right-click menu for audio tracks and it's reasonably straightforward to use, although not everyone will understand what the controls do. Volume envelopes are applied to the music track to lower and raise its volume, and these can be edited manually if the need arises. Only audio files have the Audio Ducking right-click option, so video soundtracks can't have ducking applied to make way for narration.

VideoStudio X8 Audio Ducking

^ Audio Ducking reduces the volume of music so it doesn't obscure dialogue

The new Lens Correction effect is well timed considering the rising popularity of action cameras, many of which have fish-eye lenses. We struggled to get useful results from it, though. There are no profiles for popular cameras, the pop-up editor was slow to respond and the controls lack the precision we'd hoped for.

At least the new Freeze Frame feature is simple and effective. Position the playback bar, select the option from the right-click menu and the software splices a bitmap of that frame into the timeline. There's an inevitable gap in the audio, but the Split Audio command allows the video and audio components of a clip to be edited independently.

It was already possible to drop VideoStudio project files onto the timeline to create a nested sequence within a sequence. Now there's an option to unpack the project file to access its individual elements, which is handy for merging two or more projects together. Other new features include a Favorites folder for organising effects for quick access, and the ability to show media properties in the Media bin.

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