Corel updates Video Studio, releases V7

Corel has long been a contender on the video front, and it has helped to thin out the ranks with its acquisition of Ulead, Intervideo, Roxio, and Pinnacle.

The company’s release in 2012 V6 was a major upgrade. This latest release, V7, bats cleanup, but it also solidifies some of the changes introduced in 2012 and it’s a good opportunity to look at how Corel is addressing the booming and difficult video market.

Right now, I should say that the feature I really love and use frequently is Screen Capture. Using it as a standalone module, you can capture a sequence of actions on your computer to demonstrate a process—here’s how you use a gradient screen in InDesign, here’s how to put a horse’s head in your boss’s bed. Or you can record a presentation to post as a video and it’s a kind of cool way to practice.

You can see if your presentation is the right length and identify annoying verbal tics. If only real life were so editable. Using the screen capture module creates a .wmv file you can use right away. You can also use the Screen Capture function from within Video Studio to continue to work with and edit it—add titles, additional narration, etc. Just as an aside, since Screen Capture is capturing everything that’s going on with your computer as you use it; it will also capture drive noises and clicks. You’ll want to have as little running in the background and use a microphone if possible. For instance, Adobe Acrobat will cause your CPU to work really hard as it tries to update the program any old time it feels like it, so (a) don’t have Acrobat running and (b) you can disable the update “feature” so Adobe behaves better. 

Multi -track photo support lets you bring in layered images as separate tracks.


Performance and reliability 

Over the past few years, Corel has been careful to check with its evergrowing user base to see what people want. Product Manager Greg Wood tells us that people don’t necessarily want to update their software, they want better tools for learning how to use their software. But way up on the list of user requests is the plea for performance and reliability. Truthfully, Video Studio has been pretty good on this front—sometimes a little slow, but it doesn’t often outrightly betray the user. One of the big huge nightmares of consumer video tools is that you go through a long process of editing and have the software choke during the finishing process. To know pain is to hear the screams of a person who has lost several hours of their life editing video that crashes in the end. Honestly, most of us only have to have that happen once to swear off a particular brand of software forever.

It helps that this version is Corel’s first with support for 64-bit. It’s a little surprising that it has taken this long for as venerable a product as Corel Video Studio to arrive in 64-bit, but loyal users will take what they can get, and what they get is snappier performance. And performance has been utterly solid as we’ve played with the software. Corel introduced support for 4K in V6 of Video Studio, but with V7, it has improved the ability of Video Studio to render those large files. Corel has added Smart Render, which can detect where there is editing and render just those sections, and it has added hardware support for Intel’s latest chips, which have media processing acceleration. Corel says hardware acceleration features have considerably speeded up rendering including 4K and also transcoding. We did ask about GPU support, and Wood said Corel has been working with AMD and Nvidia to take advantage of the GPUs across its product line and it would be reasonable to expect more use of the GPU in Visual Studio down the line. 

Handy learning tools 

Surprisingly, I didn’t find it as easy as I expected to relearn Video Studio 7, and in this I am a typical user, says Wood. Most people work on video sporatically after a vacation, or if they’re at work, when a project demands video. As a result, a big request from customers is better learning tools so they can get the most out of their software. There are several ways. First of all, Corel has added a discovery button that works across its products. This is nice; it provides random tips and they’re real world tools, stuff you would like to do,  but you don’t want to lose a day or two  learning. In general, what I find with  almost all tutorial videos offered by  companies is that they never cover the  subject you need. Corel’s video tutorials  try to hit the basics. For instance, in the  tutorial for creating a slide show, it adds  tips for adjusting motion and customizing  pan and zoom. And it covers getting  content into Video Studio and working  with transitions. All that can get you  pretty far along the path of doing that  stupid video your boss is making you do  because someone told him that young  people watch video more than they  read. (Which, apparently, and sadly, is  true.) Corel also offers written tutorials  for those who cannot bear to sit  through videos to get to one little question.  I would be one of those people. 

Fastflick is Corel Video Studio has new feature modules including tools from NewBlueFX for color correction, audio enhancement, picture-in-picture, etc.actually a useful learning  tool as well as a means to get to video  quickly. It is an additional module,  which is a klunky approach but probably  lets Corel adopt features quickly  in time for release, and the pre-built  templates are pretty corny, but it does  work well. When you’re done, maybe  you’ve got a sound track that makes  you cringe and a relentless and boring  pan and zoom (Ken Burns, you have  a lot to answer for), but you



can take  your video into Video Studio and there  you can see how it’s done. There are  title slides, transitions, a sound track in  the time line, and you can change and  edit whatever you need to. You can even  work with the Pan and Zoom effect by  right-clicking on a still and choosing  Customize Motion from the menu. It  requires poking around, but it’s a good  way to see why things are happening the  way they do.  


Aiming at the non-professional  

When we visited with Corel, they  made it clear that while they respect the  professional videographers and they’re  happy to sell them software, that’s not  who they’re thinking of when they develop  their tools. They see their customers  as being multimedia hobbyists, action  videographers, social media fans—yes,  they’re recording their cats, educators,  and marketers. Creating videos  is not  the first line in their job description.  Wood told us that GoPro is a big motivator  for people to take up video editing,  and now that it has introduced a 4K  camera, Corel’s developers are expecting  to be seeing a lot more 4K videos hitting  YouTube and the social networks. 

In spite of the fact that Corel is primarily  targeting consumers and hobbyists,  the company doesn’t hesitate to  add features generally associated with  professional tools. In V6, the company  added motion tracking, so for instance,  you can add text that follows a moving  figure. It also supports multi-layer  images  you might bring in from Corel’s  Paint Shop Pro. The layers will be on  separate tracks so you can work with  the assets of an image such as text, effects,  gradients. Images can also be flattened  on import if you don’t want that  capability. 

Corel Video Studio has support for  Smart Sound, which is a really great  way to create audio for your video without  worrying about breaking a license  with MP3s, and they’re adjustable so  you can get the mood you want. There  is a link to the online store to buy more  tracks if necessary. I had no trouble  putting together the sounds I wanted,  but I found the store kind of slow to  navigate. This isn’t just a problem with  Corel, it seems universal, but you can  waste enormous amounts of time trying  out different variations of sounds only  to find out to get one track will cost  $99.00 for the pack. 

Corel was really ahead of the game  when they added stop motion a couple  of releases ago. You can use a DSLR or  your webcam to create stop-motion animations.  You can also use the computer  to control your camera to capture shots. 

Video Studio also has captioning to  create  subtitles. Basically, the feature recognizes  when someone is speaking and  creates a blank caption for you to fill in  with the caption you want. So, if you’re  trapped indoors this snowy winter, you  can make your own Hitler-goes-crazyover- some-trivial-thing video by editing  the now-famous clip from the 2004 film,  Der Untergang, or you can subtitle the  family wedding or the soccer game.  Video Studio has been around a  while; it’s loaded with features, it’s solid,  and now it’s faster.

VideoStudio is available in two versions:  VideoStudio Pro X7 is $79.99  (USD/CAN), and VideoStudio Ultimate  X7 is $99.99 (USD/CAN). The Ultimate  version has everything the Pro version  has with the addition of a premium special  effects pack.