Packed with features, but improvements to the interface don't go far enough
Corel VideoStudio is video-editing software with a decidedly home-oriented feel. Much of this is down to its library of animated text, graphics and disc menus, which are designed squarely for home video projects. However, it’s also a reflection of the core editing tools, which don’t have the same level of business-like precision as our favourite low-cost editor, Sony Movie Studio Platinum.
Version X7 is unusually light on new features, and instead focuses on making the existing features more responsive and accessible. This is an entirely sensible decision. After all, we’ve never heard of anyone who has been put off video editing because of a lack of bells and whistles; it’s nearly always because the process seems awkward and time-consuming. Software that can overcome those obstacles to use is clearly on the right track.
There’s no shortage of creative effects and animated titles and graphics
The move to 64-bit code brings a significant boost to preview performance and export times. VideoStudio Ultimate X7 is one of the last editors to make the jump, but it’s better late than never. VideoStudio Ultimate X7 played seven simultaneous AVCHD streams on our Intel Core i7 870 test PC compared to five streams in X6. We also saw render times fall by up to 48 per cent, although our test results varied widely from project to project.
Sadly, the move to 64-bit code hasn’t resolved various issues we’ve noticed before about VideoStudio’s performance. There was a discernible delay in responding to our input, typically of less than a second but sometimes as much as four seconds for more complex projects.
Preview performance also varied widely depending on the type of source footage. Some formats are inevitably more demanding than others, but it’s odd that X7 was able to deliver smooth playback of seven simultaneous streams in AVCHD format, but two streams from a Panasonic G6 (with a MP4 file extension) and only one stream from a Canon EOS 70D (in QuickTime format). All of this footage contains 1080-25p AVC video, and other editors are much more consistent in their ability to handle them. To its credit, VideoStudio has a comprehensive proxy editing mode, whereby footage beyond a specified resolution is converted to a lower resolution to improve preview performance, reverting to the originals for export. It’s switched off by default, though, and most users are unlikely to find or make sense of it.
The Share tab is better laid out than before, but where are the 24fps and 30fps templates?
The export options have been redesigned to make them easier to use, although the available options are largely unchanged. Destinations include optical discs and social media sites, and profiles for Xbox, PS3 and PSP. The save-to-disk options appear to be comprehensive but we were mystified to find no 30 frames per second (fps) or 60fps and barely any 24fps and 50fps templates. This disposition towards 25fps is presumably because we selected the UK during installation (where 25fps is the broadcast standard), but there are lots of digital cameras on sale in the UK that record at other frame rates. We could define 1080-24p and 1080-30p MPEG-4 templates manually, but 1080-50p and 1080-60p aren’t allowed. However, these frame rates were allowed for 4K MPEG-4 templates, which is all very odd.
There’s a tick-box that lets you create a video matches the project settings. This should have made exports much easier, but VideoStudio makes no effort to match project settings to the imported footage, and the controls to do it manually are hidden away. It’s better to select the Same as First Video Clip option instead, but this was unavailable when we worked with 24fps and 30fps footage.
The bottom line is that it’s worryingly easy to have source footage, an editing timeline and export files all operating at different frame rates, resulting in dropped and repeated frames. Casual users may not notice or care, but this is something that consumer software should handle automatically. It’s disappointing that Corel hasn’t used the redesigned export interface to fix this issue.