REVIEW: Corel Videostudio ProX5 Ultimate
Videostudio ProX5 Ultimate
I confess, not only am I a bit of an adventure junkie, I’m also a vanity junkie. Which means taking lots of photos on bike rides and climbs, and, er, yes – filming myself in these pursuits. Some of the video footage I got on Ben Vorlich in Scotland, for example, makes one’s jaw drop… and also made me realise how important it is to take a camcorder on rides and climbs.
As with any other data, once you have your raw footage you need something with which to manipulate this data – enter stage left, Corel’s VideoStudio ProX5 Ultimate. Now I’m an old hand at editing, having been playing around with similar packages since about 1996 – so did Corel win my heart and my custom?
I’ve used quite a few packages over the years, on both MAC and PC. My previous software of choice on the PC has always been the Pinnacle range of video editing software, despite the (many) flaws. I started – way back – with Ulead Video Studio 4 – this was back in about 1997/1998, when I and a few mates were making comedy sketches (remember BAD BABY? probably not… and school promo films (we were teachers/ the horror)). Then I upgraded to Pinnacle Studio 9, then a few years later to Pinnacle Studio 11 Ultimate – which, if you can believe this, arrived with a mis-typed serial code. As it was my Christmas gift with which to edit footage of my kids opening their Christmas presents and stuffing turkey into their maws, I was best not impressed. I spent a fun morning trying to get it to work, and I can tell you here and now there’s no easier way to annoy a consumer than with such a basic simple sloppy error. Another year, another upgrade. I (foolishly) upgraded to Pinnacle Studio 14 in the hope it would alleviate the regular random crashes. I’d started making a series of short movies and it was a long and frustrating process. The problem with crashes on a reasonably long project is – well, where was I up to? Which changes had I made to the whole project? Thankfully, Pinnacle’s “recovery” software was quite good, although on some occasions did scramble my entire edited project meaning I had to start again. Grrrwwwww.
Upon purchasing a MAC, I thought I’d try Adobe’s Final Cut Pro, which every man and his donkey bangs on about, especially on film making forums and casting sites like Shooting People. Now, I did use this software quite a lot – mainly because I was being told it was the best. But you know what? I disagree. I used Adobe’s range of Creative Suite software, including After Effects – and yes, they are very, very powerful, but yes, they need a lot of hand holding and schooling. They’re just so not fluid. I found every stage of Adobe’s user interface just massively counter-intuitive. Maybe it’s me (it probably is me) but time after time Adobe software left me tearing my hair out. So, back to Pinnacle, beautiful to use, intuitive, powerful, and yet time after time it left me tearing my hair out – with multiple crashing projects and mangled editing. Argh! What was an amateur adventure film maker to do?
So then. Corel’s VideoStudio had a lot to live up to, and a lot to overcome. I am a picky SOB and have a wealth of experience with different packages. With video editing software, I am not an easy man to please.
First, here’s some official blurb to whet your appetite and introduce new features over the outgoing Pro X4 version…
“Corel® VideoStudio® Pro X5 is an all-in-one video editor that brings together creative editing, advanced effects, screen recording, interactive web video and total disc authoring. Ultra-fast and packed with intuitive tools, it lets you create everything from family movies and slideshows, to fun stop motion animations, and screen recordings of presentations, tutorials and more. Get creative with advanced compositing and stellar creative effects. Tap into the full power of your multi-core processor with unprecedented speed. And share everywhere with native HTML5 video support, and enhanced DVD and Blu-ray™ authoring.
Fast & easy HD video
Get started faster with Instant Projects and templates—and finish faster thanks to high-speed rendering and support for GPU and multi-core processing.
Advanced visual effects
Be more creative with 21 multimedia editing tracks, support for multi-layer graphics and advanced drag-and-drop visual effects.
Complete screen recording
Make a video featuring anything you do on your desktop, including slideshows, tutorials, product demos, game recordings, how-to videos and more.
Create interactive online video and quickly burn pro-quality discs, complete with menus, titles and transitions.
Outstanding value—hundreds of bonus effects, filters, transitions and templates! BONUS! SPECIAL EFFECTS VALUE PACK – Get the full power of VideoStudio Pro X5 plus these professional-quality special effects applications:
- NewBlue® Video Essentials
20 high-end filters and effects
- Boris Graffiti 5.4
Template-driven, broadcast-quality titles and effects
- proDAD Mercalli SE
Advanced image correction and rock-steady video stabilization
- proDAD VitaScene V2 LE
100+ fully customizable, high-speed effects, transitions and filters
- proDAD RotoPen
Exclusive to VideoStudio Pro X5 Ultimate!
Apply animated pen effects to maps, graphics and photos
- Free download! WinZip® Pro
File compression, file sharing, file encryption and data backup.”
Sounds good eh? Sounds too good to be true! So how was it?
Okay. Installation was a breeze, although the “Ultimate Pack” on Disk2 could have been a tad easier – with a 1 click installation, for example, as opposed to installing every separate item from the ultimate pack individually. A minor gripe, but in these busy lazy days of our mad rushed lives, every minute counts. It could have saved me a whole ten minutes! And I like my ten minutes. You can do a lot in ten minutes.
You are immediately presented with a locked set of windows (as opposed to Adobe’s bizarre many and varied floating tabs and bars and junk), and in a colour-set very pleasing to the eye and promising many hours of easy editing. Yeah. We’ll see.
First thing I did was drop some really old (well, 2002) .avi files in to see what it did. I confess, I was trying to trip VSP5 up and crash it, or get some kind of error message. “I don’t understand that file”, that sort of thing. After all, I’d had them from every other package I’d ever used – especially Adobe. MACs are particularly anal about non-MAC file types. Anyway, VSP5 played them no problem. Aha! I’ll go older, then. So I dug out some old camera files, circa 1999 and 2000. MPGs these were. I dropped them in – and hot damn they worked! I dropped in some old 8mm transfer files, and it played them as well. There was no tripping up VSP5 and it had certainly covered its bases with encoding/decoding.
Moving forward a decade, I dropped in some AVCHD (Panasonic’s own) files – now I’d had many problems with these files on both Adobe and Pinnacle systems – but on VSP5 they played like a dream. And I wasn’t deleting these differing file types – just stacking them up in memory, like a house of cards, waiting for them to fail and fall. Next, I dropped in files from my Sony HDR. And every one worked like a dream. A mad mix of files from over a decade, a range of cams, all rendered at different FPS and sizes. Not once did VSP5 stumble or falter. Impressive.
I did some editing on mountain climbing films, including a video diary from when I climbed Ben Nevis, adding the usual sort of titling, splitting clips, splitting video and audio to add new layers of audio, adding effects to different sections and fading them together. I very much enjoyed playing with FX like old film grain (which in some programs can often look a bit… orange) and rotoscoping, which I absolutely love. Polar Express done on a budget. And without Tom Hanks! Result.
I spent a good day messing withVSP5, and my only niggle was I couldn’t find an indicator for real-time rendering – or an option to switch this facility on/off. Although, saying that, everything was happily rendered in real time anyway, all effects applied without any loss whatsoever (on my 6-core Phenom running 64bit Win7, 8GIG DDR3 memory). Not sure how it would run on a Core2 Duo though!! So, at this point I picked up the manual…. which is surely a VERY GOOD THING. The software and UI is so intuitive I hadn’t even flicked through by this point. I found page 33 – rendering. That’s what the index said. But… Nope. So I logged onto the website www.corel.com. Couldn’t find anything there, either. So I hit Google, and again couldn’t find anything. Maybe it was just me being antiquated. What I did find was this comment on a forum post, which I think backs up what I’ve experienced over the last few years – “I use Corel Videostudio x4 too. I tried Adobe premiere pro and cyberlink’s Power Director. Adobe is to complicated and not all in one. PD is super fast rendering but crashed every 30 min. Seriously. Videostudio does all I need. I prefer burning AVCHD DVD5 discs. Higher quality than mp4 and cheaper. The video time is shorter but I’m not charging admission and making popcorn. It took me some time to accept that a $50 software was actually better for my needs. I think it’s a perfect match for AVCHD prosumer camcorder editing and rendering. ”
So I stopped worrying about my niggle, banged through a sample copy to a DVD (16:9) quality file – which rendered pretty quickly, considering it was a 12min 36sec film filled chock wither FX and my PC was also running Word, Paint Shop Pro and Serif PagePlus at the same time. I do love multi-tasking.
What do I think overall, then?
Videostudio Pro X5 is an absolutely fabulous video editing program. It did everything I wanted, quickly, without fuss and WITHOUT CRASHING. I did have one moment when I got the dreaded “Not Responding” freeze, and thought “Oh yeah, here we go” but it was in fact the program simply letting me know it needed updating and would I like to do so? There’s a fabulous range of effects, intuitive user interface (I didn’t use the manual at all, except for one look up), and it was just so slick and professional. Home computer video editing software has come a long, long way from its infancy, and yes, you can buy very expensive “industry” standard software from Adobe that requires a PhD to understand and operate. But most of us want to spend more time out biking and climbing and running – right? And when you take that film footage of Helvellyn, Ben Vorlich, cycling through Sherwood forest or scrambling your KTM across a Welsh beach – well, I reckon this is the best software you can get to fulfil that role. Oh yes, one last note – there’s a very handy function for removing shaking from, for example, headcams – the proDAD Mercalli SE advanced image correction and rock-steady video stabilization. I applied it to some old downhill MTB footage and it worked a treat.
Very much recommended!