Video for novices: VideoStudio 8

Ulead VideoStudio 8's new features include a revamped audio toolkit with individual track levels, plug-in support, some new video transitions and a slightly re-jigged front end, but most of the changes are designed for the novice user.

Click here to view a screen shot.

The first is Movie Wizard, an auto-producer that lets you build your project by importing source material, selecting a style, title and background music track, and letting the software do the rest for you. While not as sophisticated as Muvee's AutoProducer, or even Pinnacle Studio 9's SmartMovie, VideoStudio's wizard does provide an Auto Trim feature that crops out any shaky or blurry footage that it finds in your clips. If you want more manual control, perhaps to take out some of the auto-producer's tackier effects, the Movie Wizard can export your project to the main editing suite; the wizard also exports straight to file, tape or disc.

SmartSound QuickTracks - a royalty-free music-generation tool you'll also find in Studio 9 - has made its way into VideoStudio 8, along with widescreen and MPEG-4 support, improved shuttle control for connected camcorders, and full-screen preview during capture. VideoStudio 8 can also use video from copyright-free DVDs, MicroMV and DVD-VR camcorders, as well as MiniDV and analog sources - assuming that you have the relevant capture hardware installed. Among the new tools are audio filters for removing noise, plus a selection of overlays and transitions for your video.

VideoStudio 8 is an improvement over its predecessor, but there's nothing earth-shattering here. Its key advantage is still the video overlay track, providing an edge over similarly-priced editing packages.

In brief: Ulead VideoStudio 8

4 out of 5 stars

No surprises in this new release, but a worthy contender nevertheless.

Price: $199; $116 upgrade (upgrade available from VideoStudio 6 SE)

Distributor: Lako Pacific

Phone: (03) 9852 7444

URL: www.lakopacific.com.au

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