MediaStudio Pro has long been the underdog in the semi-professional video-editing market: while Adobe Premiere has often attracted attention for mid-level users, Ulead's package is the secret weapon deployed by editors who want power without paying a steep price.
Indeed, on a straight head-to-head comparison of features, MediaStudio is often ahead: the latest iteration does not - at first glance - offer the same wealth of features as previous versions, many of those extras are now accessed from the main program rather than being add-on apps.
Thus, users have access to sophisticated sound editing, titling and compositing tools, as well as the ability to create DVDs and - something which really establishes this as a professional quality tool - extended support for HDV (high definition video).
However, while the interface of Premiere is a model of elegance, Ulead's flagship editor often looks cluttered and clumsy. Nonetheless, important changes have been made: the timeline has been updated so, rather than A/B roll editing, you have single-track editing. It is also possible to create multiple timelines to work on parts of a project separately. However, you will appreciate such improvements only after you have mastered the program.
Of other features included in version 8.0, the most important are tools for HDV editing. Smart Proxy allows real-time editing of high-quality video even on mobile systems by using lower-resolution proxies. When you have completed your edit, the final output is streamed in the original high-resolution format. On suitably powerful PCs, you can still edit in full-resolution, lossless mode.
Elsewhere, changes include a Smart Compositor – professional-quality masks that are intended to be combined with your video to provide smart introductions and segues. The intention is that you can quickly build up transitions that won't look as contrived as those created with a pre-made template.
More significant, although less flashy, are the other video and audio tweaks. These include better colour-correction, chroma key and title tools. It is also possible to create Dolby 5.1 surround audio tracks.
No integration frustrations
MediaStudio 8.0 offers improved integration with other Ulead apps, such as VideoStudio and PhotoImpact. This would seem to be an obvious move, but ultimately not that important as most users will be more concerned to import Photoshop files or work with compositor packages such as After Effects. Much more useful are the MovieFactory and DVD DiskRecorder apps, separate programs that can be accessed from within the main editor to create a DVD or record footage to devices that support DVD-RAM or DVD-R.