Product Review (June 2005) - Ulead
MediaStudio Pro 7 Video Production Suite

MediaStudio Pro 7 is Ulead's latest complete, professional digital video post production suite, offering a powerful set of six integrated modules for Video Capture, Video Editing, Audio Editing, CG Graphics, Video Painting, and DVD authoring. Each of the applications included with MediaStudio Pro 7 is designed to maximize the potential of the final product and when combined, create professional looking results. This comprehensive digital studio encompasses CG effects, rotoscope animation, and other impressive filters and effects. The software is designed around a scalable architecture that takes full advantage of Pentium 4, hyper-threading technology and high-performance dual processor systems. Targeting both professionals and video enthusiasts alike, MediaStudio Pro 7 is priced at $499 (available for $299 for a limited time) and can be purchased through the Ulead website. MediaStudio Pro 7 offers real-time native DV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and Windows Media format capabilities directly through the IEEE1394 interface. Support for the increasingly popular 16:9 widescreen format along with Dolby AC-3 stereo encoding is fully provided.

High Definition Camcorder Support
Ulead offers their optional ($299) HD Plug-in 2.0 that supports the Sony HVR-Z1, HDR-FX1 and HVR-M10N as well as the JVC GR-HD1, JY-HD10U, GR-PD1 and GR-PD1EK. Due to the high-speed processing requirements, Ulead recommends using a 3 GHz Pentium 4 with 1GB of DDR RAM with Microsoft® Windows® XP SP2. Since we lacked an HD camera, we didn't get a chance to exercise some of this functionality. However, it appeared to be seamlessly integrated into the base software once installed. High definition transport streams can be edited and combined with other video and can take advantage of Ulead’s SmartRender technology to provide faster editing and rendering on high-perofrmance and dual processor machines. Furthermore, Ulead says it offers the same powerful editing and titling features, real-time audio mixing tools, library filters, motion paths and transition effects for HDV Video.

The 400+ page User's Guide is well organized and covers all aspects of the software modules in great detail. The Tutorial section specifically covers the Video Capture, Video Editor, Video Paint and CG Infinity applications.

Video Capture
The Video Capture module is designed to import video directly from a camcorder or other capture device. The user must select the current input device in the Device Control and the type of capture desired using the Capture Plug-in dialog box. We used our five year old JVC GR-DVL9500U mini-DV camcorder to stream digital content to our laptop via a IEEE1394 cable. The software was able to immediately recognized the camera streaming audio and video without a problem. The Audio Format button on the standard toolbar was used to define the quality of the audio being recorded. Users can select from radio quality (22 kbit/s, 8-bit mono) to high quality (44.1 kHz, 16-bit stereo) audio depending on the final product needs.

Direct MPEG capturing is possible using the DSW MPEG plug-in, which writes the MPEG data to a file when connected to DV source. Direct WMV (Windows Media Video) capturing is also possible with DV or analog sources using the Windows Media Format Capture plug-in. The lower section of the window has standard camera controls (i.e. Stop, Play, Record, etc.) that can be used to control devices connected to the IEEE1394 interface. Once a device is connected, the user can navigate through the DV tape using these buttons.

Also included is a Vectorscope and Waveform monitor used for video monitor from analog sources, although it can also be used for digital sources as well. Analog video can become degraded as the signal travels through cables and capture board electronics. Changes in gain and phase of a composite or s-video signal can lead to color errors since the color information is modulated with the black and white video signal. The Vectorscope displays both hue and color saturation in a polar form, making it easy to identify errors using a reference SMPTE (Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers) color bar image.

Video Editor
The Video Editor is where all of the elements created with the MediaStudio Pro software get combined. A combination of video files can be arranged with transitions, overlays and moving paths in the timeline toolbar. In addition, multiple audio clips can be added to the project and by using the Audio Cross-fade button, audio clips can transition smoothly. Manual level control is also possible using the control point on each of the audio tracks. Both percentage and dB level are displayed when adjustments are made with this feature. The Audio Mixing Panel provides the ability to adjust level and pan setting for up to five individual audio tracks using sliders. A master level control is also provided in this window.

The Project Setting determines the format of the final movie being created. Each track can be individually locked to prevent any changes from being made. The final product can be viewed in real-time as the cursor moves over the sequence of events. The video can be saved as an MPEG, WMV or Quicktime file. The software can also create a VCD, SVCD or DVD or send the content back to the camcorder. High definition content can be saved back to the HDV device (Transport Stream) or as a file (Program Stream) by selecting the appropriate template.

Audio Editor
The Audio Editor is designed to play, record and edit audio tracks of the video project. Sounds can be imported or sampled at 11 kHz, 22 kHz or 44.1 kHz using 8 or 16 bit data in mono or stereo. Editing sound clips is made easy using simple drag and drop commands. The main toolbar has the basic controls for editing audio (stop, play and record) and includes a zoom slider that zooms in and out of a selected clip. Buttons for adding cues and moving to the previous or next cue are available. These uniquely named cues are used when running the Video Editor to synchronize specific points in the audio track to the video. Several Effect controls are available for altering the audio. Amplify is used to adjust the level, Pitch is used to adjust the pitch, Remove Noise tries to remove background noise and Quantize allows the user to adjust the sample word size to optimize space.

CG Infinity
One of the most impressive applications included with MediaStudio Pro 7 is CG Infinity. This specialized drawing program allows flexible manipulation of text and graphics that can ultimately be used with other clips assembled in the Video Editor program. The vector-based motion generator is great for creating rolling credits and animated titles, giving the presentation a professional appearance. Each object can be displayed in Preview or in Wireframe mode. Using the Wireframe mode significantly increases performance, since the full set of image attributes are not being continuously updated in real-time. Objects can be grouped and layered making it easier to manage several images. The Shape tool is used to creates common shapes such as circles, squares and polygons, while the Path and Freehand tools allow users to draw virtually any type of shape using the mouse and even trace over existing images.
The Object and Envelope tools allow text and objects to be manipulated creating realistic looking three-dimensional effects.

Video Paint
Also included with the MediaStudio Pro system is Video Paint, an application that allows users to create, edit and assemble individual frames for various effects. This powerful rotoscoping tool allows users to paint over any individual frame in a series making up a video sequence. The Filmstrip panel displays each of the frames in a sequence and allows the user to click on any one to edit. Users can quickly add simple effects such as lightning bolts, laser beams, virtual sets and mattes. The Lasso tool allows the user to select irregular shaped areas by drawing freehand and by using the AutoSnap and Sensitively controls, this task becomes easier.

Performance
We downloaded the latest patch for MediaStudio Pro 7 (Service Pack 3 released on 04/06/05, Build Number: 7.30.0003) from the Ulead website. We also installed the HD Plug-in 2.0 for editing HDV video content. Using sample HD clips found on the net, we were able to get a feel for how the software handles these high resolution sources.
Processor speed becomes a significant factor when dealing with HD content and it was apparent on our 2.8 GHz P4 system. Users can encode and author their HD or SD video content to DVD with interactive menus and buttons. MediaStudio Pro 7 can take HDV content and encode it to 720p or 1080i and send it back to the camera.

The Scan DV Tape is powerful feature that provides a thumbnail list of the entire tape with timetag information. Once scanned, individual scenes can be selected and the results can be saved to a PSF file. The best part is that the file size is relatively small for the entire tape since it does not contain the entire video content. The video and audio editing tools included with MediaStudio Pro 7 allow you to create video for all occasions.

Conclusion
MediaStudio Pro 7 is a powerful and comprehensive video production tool that produces professional results. Best of all it is not too difficult to use. In fact, we were up and running is a relatively short time, learning new features as needed. The ability to mix DV, HDV and MPEG content together to produce a variety of output formats is simply amazing. The price is slightly higher than other video production tools, but none I have seen are as powerful MediaStudio Pro 7.

- Kevin Nakano






OneCall: Your Home Theater, Digital Camera, and HDTV Experts



Review - At a Glance


Ulead MediaStudio Pro 7

Key Features

  • Video Scan/Capture
  • Video Editor
  • Audio Editor
  • CG Infinity
  • Video Paint
  • DVD Authoring
  • Real-time MPEG Capture
  • Real-time Preview in Any Format
  • Real-time Output to TV, Tape or DV
  • All-in-one DV to DVD
  • Advanced Format Support
  • Native MPEG Editing
  • Dolby Audio
  • Auto Slideshow
  • On-disc DVD Player
  • Ulead 3D & Graphics Software Integration



    Company Information
    Ulead Systems
    20000 Mariner Ave, Suite #200
    Torrance, CA 90503

    Tel: 310-896-6388
    Fax: 310-896-6389
    Tech Support: 310-896-6391
    Website: http://www.ulead.com


    Source: Manufacture Supplied
    MSRP: $499

    Optional HD Plug-in 2.0
    MSRP: $299

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