Video editing 06 Nov 2005 10:01 pm

Comments on using Ulead MediaStudio Pro 8

This post will probably only interest people with a video editing bent. I sent it to the mug-sw email list earlier today…

Last weekend I finished my first project with MSP8 — a 12 minute compilation/montage of church activities for showing at a large dinner event. Thought I’d jot down a few notes about my experiences…

Positives:
* The single timeline editing model is much, much easier to use than the old A/B model. Adding or replacing a clip is simplified, as is dealing with the consequences of removing a clip.
* On the surface, the new titler is also much easier to use, and produces better titles. But all is not (yet) well in the titler. See negatives below.
* Availability of Automusic (SmartSounds Quicktracks) is a boon for the sort of projects (non-professional) that I do. Ability to insert music that automatically adjusts to the correct length is a real treat.
* The Effects Manager is a great addition to MSP. I’m sure it will get better as more of the variables from the custom dialogues are available in the EM. Only downside of the EM is that it needs some screen real estate to get fully into its stride — I am starting to hear the call of one of those fabbo Dell 24-inch widescreen LCD monitors.
* In my MSP7 projects, I never made much use of moving paths. In this project, the simplification of the UI overall encouraged me to get creative with moving paths, and I solved a number of problems using them. For example, I received a fair bit of footage from someone who shot everything with people’s heads exactly half way up the screen. I used a stationary moving path to shift these clips up the screen by about 20% of the screen height, and a nice lower-third graphic covered the black space. I then saved this (simple) moving path as a custom moving path (named RogerLift, after Roger the ‘cameraman’) for easy re-use. It was then incredibly easy to fix the same problem on other clips.
* The Auto Exposure video filter did a surprisingly good job of extracting usable pictures from some poorly-lit scenes.
* The ability to have multiple overlays (not new, I know) made it possible for me to have some really snazzy lower thirds with moving logos and (just once) scrolling text as well.
* The Pan and Zoom filter can make a real mug look good — it is just amazing how this brings photos to life.
* Shift-clicking with ‘track selection’ enabled is a great way to move things around on the timeline to open up some space or close up a gap. Wish I’d figured that one out in MSP7.

Negatives:
* The titler still seems to have some bugs.
* Some of my titles simply refused to accept moving paths (within the titler module). I could do what I wanted by applying a moving path outside the titler, but this would not always be the case.
* Sometimes the titler seems to randomly change a couple of the title parameters.
And once, the titler (apparently) comprehensively crashed my system — not just a BSoD, but a total (instantaneous) restart. After this event, nothing I did could prompt the titler to come back to life (system froze when attempting to edit a title), and I had to completely de-install and re-install MSP to fix.
* I wish I’d known earlier that you can easily propagate keyframe properties using the Effects Manager. Right click on a keyframe in the EM and you can copy its properties to all the keyframes, or just to the frames further to the right. This makes creation of a stationary moving path a real cinch.
* I’d still love to be able to set up a default overlap ‘snap to’ region for easily making transitions all the same length.

Overall, positives FAR outweigh negatives. I reckon my productivity was up by 30% – 50% with MSP8 — mainly down to the single track editing model, but also because the generally improved ease of use prompted me to be more adventurous and use mode of the available tools.

One more thing: it’s been a while since I did a decent-sized project. The prolonged load of a fairly intensive render alerted me to the fact that my (Zalman CNPS7000B-CU) CPU heatsink/fan was clogged up with dust. The temperature spiked higher than I had seen before (still well within tolerance) and stayed high for a long time. I whipped off the covers and gave things a blast with a can of compressed air. Heat problem solved.

Australians remember: the cheapest way to buy Ulead software is by download from Ulead. Click on the logo at the right to buy from Ulead, and the Nerd gets a little kickback, too!

3 Responses to “Comments on using Ulead MediaStudio Pro 8”

  1. on 21 Nov 2005 at 11:59 (Sydney) 1.Darren Leffler said …

    I don’t know if I am in the MPS8 league, but I have a new Canon DV Camcorder and Nadja’s has a new laptop with 128MB dedicated video card and 1GB memory and big HD. If I want to grab DV video from tape, do basic trimming (a la Windows MovieMaker), what’s your expert advice on getting my numerous little 5-10 min clips of kids and family to DVD for viewing on TV with basic chapter/menu on the DVD. I will probably also backup original quality .avi’s to a 300GB Maxtor HD or stored on data DVD as well rather than keep on tape. I also have about 10 x 90 min Video 8 analogue tapes that I plan to convert to digital via the AV in / DV out on-the-fly capability of the little Canon Camcorder. Very time consuming real-time and on PC as it grinds away but I plan to do it a little at a time. Or would it be quicker to play Video 8 tapes straight into a DVD recorder (if I had one). Basically I need to get these Video 8 archives up to something that we can still access when the Sony Video 8 camcorder dies. The PC software Sonic also allows direct Camcorder to DVD burning, but I suspect that’s data DVD (i.e. avi files) that refers to. Any wisdom for a novice just learning appreciated. Darren.

  2. on 22 Nov 2005 at 10:49 (Sydney) 2.Richard said …

    Lefty,

    Congrats on the purchases and welcome to the world of Digital Video.

    For your first forays, I’d suggest that you steer clear of MSP8. It’s quite high end and will probably frustrate more than please!

    For very basic editing tasks (capture, edit clips, maybe some very simple titles, then transfer to DVD), you could use Nero Burning ROM (versions 6 and 7 include workable video editing with DVD burning engines). Or try Ulead’s DVD MovieFactory (version 4). For what you describe, you don’t need the ‘Disc Creator’ version (which has lots of modules for making CDs, etc. etc.).

    For a tad more creativity in the video edits, why not use Windows Movie Maker? It’s a very workable product, if somewhat limited. But it’s free and not a bad place to start. Save the videos you make as standard PAL AVIs, and import them into Nero or MovieFactory — these programs will then encode them into the MPEG format required to play on a standard DVD player.

    One step up the ladder is Ulead’s VideoStudio 9. This has quite a powerful editing engine, and includes a DVD authoring component. One of the BEST things about VS9 is the inclusion of AutoMusic — it uses some very cool technology to create music for your videos that is just exactly the right length. I think there are about 22 ‘free’ tunes provided with the program, but you can download hundreds more (or buy add-on discs) if you need extras.

    As to backups: your 300GB HDD will fill surprisingly quickly! Each hour of DV footage (raw or edited) will consume 13GB of space! Mind you, hard drives are about the lowest price for storage these days ($/GB) — especially if you visit the Computer Nazi (see link over there ==>> ). My latest drives were $115 for 200GB. Many video editors use removable ‘caddies’ to allow off-line archiving of physical HDDs. Your other proposal (storing AVIs on DVD media) is also workable. I do it all the time for archival as most of what I produce is less than 15 minutes.

    I transferred my Video8 tapes to PC some years ago for the same reasons that you nominate. (In fact, my V8 player died but my brother has a Sony D8 player which will play analogue V8 with real-time encoding to Firewire (digital) for capture into PC. I have that lot stored on a large USB-connected HDD waiting for an edit job. If I need to, I can save out to miniDV tape.)

    Personally, I wouldn’t play into and record on a DVD recorder. You’ll end up with a lower quality product, and MPEG (as used on DVDs) is not a good format for editing — very hard to be ‘frame-accurate’.

    Sonic probably can do what you want. Never used it. Sorry.

    If you decide to buy Ulead software, shop around and then consider buying on-line. It’s a HUGE download (I know you are on broadband), but almost always cheaper. See earlier posts on this site. And don’t forget to click the Ulead button on this site to buy — help keep the Nerd Flying.

    FN

  3. on 23 Nov 2005 at 17:03 (Sydney) 3.Darren Leffler said …

    Thanks for your advice and tips. I will explore. Also thanks for NIS/LU uninstall info – will give this a go for sure.