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Basic Video Editing and DVD Authoring
    with Ulead VideoStudio 10  (1/2007)

    by Douglas Dixon

Ulead VideoStudio 10
Even Easier Editing
Editing Step-by-Step
- Capture
- Effects
- Overlay
- Titles
- Audio
- Sharing Formats
- DV to DVD
References

Ready to get started with video editing? Maybe you've some video that you'd like to make into a nice little movie production, complete with transitions between scenes, background music, title text, and some fun video effects. And you can share your movies as video files for computer playback, or post for friends to view over the Web, or download to a iPod to take with you, or even burn on DVD to watch in the living room.

It's easier than ever to create good-looking productions with these kinds of features, thanks to the latest generation of consumer video editing software, like Apple's iMovie and iDVD, and Windows-based applications including Adobe Premiere Elements, Pinnacle Studio, Roxio Easy Media Creator, Sony Vegas Movie Studio, and Ulead VideoStudio -- and available for only around $49 to $99.

Ulead VideoStudio 10

So let's walk though the video editing and DVD authoring process, using Ulead VideoStudio 10 to demonstrate some of the latest capabilities in these applications (www.ulead.com/vs). VideoStudio uses a nice step-by-step approach in its interface, which makes it easy for beginners (and occasional users) to figure out what to do and how to do it.

VideoStudio version 10 was released in April 2006 in two versions: the base VideoStudio 10 for $69.99 (list), and the full VideoStudio 10 Plus for $99.99. The Plus version, which we'll cover here, adds support for higher quality formats with high-definition video, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, and MPEG-4 support (also for portable players).

Even Easier Editing

VideoStudio is focused on making editing straightforward and easy, with an approachable interface, accessible controls, and text prompts. But there are times you want it even easier -- to just quickly assemble a group of clips into a movie or DVD. So the start screen for VideoStudio offers three options: run the full VideoStudio Editor, or quickly assemble a movie with the Movie Wizard, or directly transfer a videotape to disc with the DV-to-DVD Wizard.

        Start Screen

The DV-to-DVD Wizard is for getting your videotape transferred to disc with a minimum of fuss -- so it's convenient to view and easy to share. Hook up your DV camcorder to your computer (i.e., with a FireWire cable). Then simply specify the length of the tape and choose a menu design template, and VideoStudio will do the rest: rolling the tape, capturing the video, compressing to DVD format, and burning it to disc. You also can use automatic scene detection (based on the times you shot each clip) to split the tape into separate chapters.

For more control, you can use the DV Quick Scan feature to zip though your tape and display the scenes -- so you can choose whether to include them on the disc. You also can save these DV tape scene digests for future use, and print them as a handy reference for the contents of your tapes.

The Movie Wizard is designed for quickly assembling a list of clips to make into a movie. You can insert video and image files from hard disk, capture video from tape, and import from DVDs or mobile devices. Then choose a theme template, with a title, background music, and nice fades/transitions between clips. Finally, save the result: export as a video file, burn to disc, or send to the VideoStudio Editor for further editing.

        Movie Wizard

VideoStudio can help scan your clips to find poorly shot scenes, or use the Ad-Zapper to automatically detect commercials. You can split scenes, and trim and delete them as desired.

Editing Step-by-Step

But for more editing control, the main VideoStudio Editor has a full-screen user interface, with tabs for each editing step along the top of the main window. The interface has three main areas: the Library of clips and other elements on the right, the large Preview window on the left, and the Storyboard / Timeline for assembling clips along the bottom (you also now can switch between several alternate layouts).

You can start creating your movie by importing clips under the Edit tab.

        Edit

The Library not only provides access to pre-supplied editing elements (including Colors, Transitions, Video Filters, Titles, Decorations, and Animations), but you also can use it to import and organize your own media clips -- Video, Audio, and Image. Just click the Add button, or drag and drop files from Windows Explorer.

Then use the Preview window to view your clips, or the production you are building in the Storyboard / Timeline.

VideoStudio provides a Storyboard view for quickly assembling a list of clips. Like the Movie Wizard, you can use the Storyboard to quickly drag and drop to build a collection of clips. You then can save the result, or move on to perform more editing under the various tabs.

The multi-track Timeline provides more control for laying out a series of clips, and then adding Overlay and Title text to the video, and mixing Voice recordings and Music tracks with the audio. You can drag clips in the Timeline to adjust, trim, and split them, and to sync them with other tracks.

But the big news in new consumer video editors is support for high-quality media. VideoStudio now can work with HD video and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. To handle the big HD files, even if you don't have the highest-performance machine, VideoStudio uses a Smart Proxy technique. You edit with lower-res versions of your clips, and then the final production is created by going back to the HD originals. VideoStudio even has a Surround Sound Mixer to steer and pan sound channels between the 6 speakers.

Capture

To bring in more clips to edit in VideoStudio, use the Capture tab to capture video from a camcorder, or to import from a DVD or mobile device.

When capturing video, as with the DV-to-DVD Wizard, you can use DV Quick Scan to split the tape into scenes (based on the time when you shot each segment), preview the scenes as a collection of thumbnails, and then decide which ones to capture.

VideoStudio now supports high-definition video and the new HDV camcorders, so you now can capture from devices including a DV and DVD camcorder, VCR, Webcam, set-top DVD recorder, TV tuner, Digital TV, or HDTV.

If you already have some material on DVD that you would like to re-use, VideoStudio can extract tracks from a DVD or DVD-VR (from a set-top DVD recorder) -- but not from copy-protected commercial DVDs.

And it can interface to portable media players and other external devices, to list and copy video and image files.

Effects

One you've imported and captured all your clips and assembled the basic flow of your movie in the Storyboard / Timeline, it's time to move on to enhancing your production with effects and overlays.

Use the VideoStudio Effect tab to first add transitions between your clips so they do not cut abruptly from one to the next. Try conventional Wipes and Slides, or have fun with more dramatic Film and 3D transitions, even with mask patterns.

Next, apply video filters to correct and enhance the video, much the same way we now enhance and get creative with photos. Use Auto Exposure and Auto Level to clean up the tone and brightness, or Anti-Shake, Enhance Lighting, or DeNoise to correct problem clips. Then have fun with the more creative filters, to add Strobe or Ghost Motion, or Clouds, Rain, Wind, or Lightning look.

        Video FIlters

You also can adjust the playback speed to slow or fast motion, without altering the pitch of the audio. Or use reverse playback to play the video backwards.

Overlay

Once your main video production is in good shape, you can add additional elements in the VideoStudio overlay tracks.

Use the Overlay tab to size and position additional clips in the frame for picture-in-picture and montage effects. Add motion to have the overlays fly and spin over the frame, with up to six overlay tracks.

Use Chroma Key to have video shot against a green-screen (or other flat color) background superimposed on the main video. Ulead even offers a handy blue Chroma-Key Cloth for $14.99 for shooting blue-screen productions, 2 x 1.6 meters square.

VideoStudio also supports Flash animation overlays using Macromedia Flash moving objects or clips. For example, the built-in animations include clapping hands, floating bubbles, and a beating heart.

Just as with clips, you can move overlaid objects in the Timeline to synchronize their timing with the other tracks.  

Titles

Also use the Title tab to add text overlays to the clip. Type the text and adjust its position and size, or use the pre-defined style templates. 

        Title styles

Apply text backdrops with color gradients and transparency. Animate the titles to have the characters fly into position. VideoStudio even supports multiple titles that appear and move independently.

Audio

After all that work on the video, move on to the Audio tab to add and mix additional audio tracks, and to apply audio enhancement filters.

Within VideoStudio, you can import additional material from Audio CDs, and record your own voice tracks using your sound card and a microphone.

As with video, you then can adjust the playback speed, and apply audio filters to enhance the sound -- level the volume, remove noise, or even shift the pitch (with a nice preview as you adjust the options).

Then mix the tracks together in the Audio View to see the actual audio waveforms in the tracks, adjusting the stereo (or surround-sound) balance between the tracks. You also can precisely adjust sound levels within the tracks using rubber-band lines.

VideoStudio also includes the SmartSound Auto Music Maker to create royalty-free music compositions in your selected style and variation, and adjusted to exactly fit the duration of your project. 

Sharing Formats

When you're done editing, it's time to save and share your project, in an almost bewildering variety of formats.

Click the Share tab in VideoStudio to build your final movie production and choose how and where to save it. You can export as a disk file or to the Web or to a mobile device -- or burn a disc, or record to tape. In addition, you can take any Library clip and use it for a creative project -- output as a Web page, via E-mail, as a greeting card, or as a movie screen saver.

The most direct export option is Create Video File -- saving your movie on hard disk, typically in a compressed video format. Similarly, use Create Sound File to export an audio-only file in a variety of formats.

For full TV-resolution video playback (720x480 for NTSC), VideoStudio can export in DV or DVD formats -- either 4x3 standard aspect ratio or 16x9 widescreen, and stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound on DVD. And it can export in compatible MPEG-2 and MPEG-1 formats for VideoCD (VCD) and Super VideoCD (SVCD).

For computer-based and Web playback, you can export in Windows Media Video (WMV), Apple QuickTime, and RealNetworks RealVideo formats, each with a variety of options for compression type, resolution, frame rate, and therefore size and data rate. For Web video, you also can use the Share Video Online presets for WMV (640x480, 30 fps, to 160x120, 15 fps).

Plus, there are presets for MPEG-2 HD and WMV HD for new high-def videos (1280x720, 1440x1080), and a range of MPEG-4 and WMV presets for low-res portable devices.

For specific portable devices, use the Export to Mobile Device presets to choose the appropriate format, resolution, and frame rate for the devices (i.e., 320x240, 15 fps and lower), including WMV for PocketPC and Smartphones, and MPEG-4 for the iPod, PSP,  PDAs/ PMP (Personal Media Player), and Mobile Phones.

To move your movie back to the living room, use the DV Recording option to transfer back to a DV camcorder, or Project Playback to play full-screen out to a recorder (i.e., through your DV camcorder's video output).

Finally, you can burn your project to DVD. VideoStudio actually contains significant portions of Ulead's DVD MovieFactory application, so the Create Disc tool actually is a mini DVD authoring tool. You can assemble clips (import files and VideoStudio projects, import from DVD or mobile devices), add and edit chapter points (which also can be set in the VideoStudio Editor Timeline), select a menu design template, customize with menu effects, and then burn the result.

        DVD creation

VideoStudio 10 also adds some cool DVD menu options, including menu filters to animate static menus with ripples, waves and pan/zooms; menu transitions to segue smoothly between menus and DVD content; and SmartScene menus where the project titles share a single preview area, rather than appearing as separate motion buttons.

DV to DVD

As you can see with Ulead's VideoStudio 10, the process of getting from DV to DVD is getting both easier and more creative. For quick viewing, you can transfer a tape directly to DVD, or assemble a list of clips into a single movie. And these can look quite snazzy, with pre-built design templates and default transitions and slideshow effects.

But with a little more effort you can go a lot further, enhancing the video and audio quality, adding dynamic overlays and flying text, and mixing background music and voice-overs from multiple audio tracks.

And we're not just talking standard-definition video: VideoStudio also supports widescreen format (very nice for DVD), the new high-definition formats, and amazingly Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

So if you've got video on tapes, this is a great time to do something interesting with it. Try extracting some clips to play on your computer, or transfer from tape to DVD so you can share your fun. You then can get more creative in making a movie.

You can download trial versions of VideoStudio and similar applications over the Web, so go ahead and give it a try.


References

Ulead VideoStudio 10
            www.ulead.com/vs

Originally published in Camcorder & Computer Video magazine, Buyer's Guide 2007.