The first “real” non-linear video editor I ever bought was Ulead Media Studio Pro version 2.5. That was back before there were any DV cameras, everyone edited MJPEG AVI files, and the biggest hard drive I could get was a massive 1GB.
Things have come a long way since then, and MSP was lagging behind most of the other players. Adobe Premiere grew in popularity in the medium market and was joined by lots of new products from other competitors. Meanwhile at the low end it became easier and easier for anyone to make a basic workable video editor so they competed on things like “one click” solutions and automatic editing wizards.
Media Studio Pro, unfortunately, lacked the gloss and brand name of the big players, and lacked the hand-holding (and the low price point) of the entry-level solutions. So it lay around with occasional updates to bring it into line with each development in the Windows platform but little else.
Finally, though, with the recent release of Version 8 it has cought up again. If Ulead get it right, with a few small tweaks it could even lead the field in some areas. Ulead have eventually adopted the modern standard “single track editing” rather than the old A/B roll style of earlier versions. The screen layout is smart and tiled and it feels really smooth in use.
They don’t make it very obvious in the manual, but they have also greatly improved the selection of fomats it supports. It will now load the ASF files produced by my small camera and anything else I could find lying around. One problem, though is that it does not yet include sensible MP4 or Quicktime output for devices such as the Play Station Portable and the new video-capable iPod. They claim seamless two-way inter-operation with their entry-level VideoStudio, although I’ve not tried that yet. As I mentioned a few days ago, MP4 output is now a free plugin for VideoStudio, so MP4 export could be as simple as loading a saved MSPproject file into VS and exporting from there. Apparently an MP4 plugin is “coming soon” for MSP itself – with any luck it will include optimised iPod export built in.
As befits a medium tier product it offers a lot of detailed control over the editing process, supporting an arbitrary number of tracks, grouping and including one timeline in another. It also includes supprt for a neat idea they call “templates”. A template is a kind of “fill in the blanks” video effect. Each template comes with its own editing interface which allows you to associate your own video and audio clips and tweak parameters, when you’ve done that it generates a kind of sub-timeline which it includes in your main edit. Very neat and powerful, but limited a bit at the moment as I can’t see any way of anyone other than Ulead creating these things. This is a shame as it seems an ideal base for a thriving third-party plugins market.
I’m currently using the “tryout” version, which is limited in some respects (and expires in a month) but can be upgraded to the full version. This is actually the first tryout version that I’d actually be tempted to buy.
I tried Premiere Pro 1.5 and although it looked lovely it simply did not support the input and output formats I wanted. I tried Vegas 6 but that also had limited IO. Premiere Elements 2.0 looks nice, but the only tryout version is for 1.0 which is not at all what I want.
I’m currently considering whether my budget will stretch to upgrading my old and clunky Ulead Media Studio Pro 6.5 to the hugely better 8.0. I’m very tempted.
Read more at MediaStudio Pro 8 – video editing software
Update I just found another review of this release at eventdv.net.