Firewire cards and digital video camcorders make it look easy to create professional training and promotional videos in-house. In reality, good video is deceptively hard to do. Ulead's MediaStudio Pro 6.5's five interrelated programs tackle every aspect of video production, including capture, editing, titling, audio enhancement, and output. Though the program supports the ability to save finished video to tape, you can now create streaming video and DVDs as well.
Unfortunately, the program doesn't ship with support for DVD-R drives, but updates are available on the Ulead Web site. Right out of the box, you can burn DVD-like video onto CD-R discs, which play in some DVD players and most PCs. We had mixed results; our CD-R movies would only play in about half of the players we tried. Nonetheless, we made some convincingly professional discs complete with startup menus just like commercial DVDs.
Ulead's video capture tool has been enhanced dramatically; you can now create videos of unlimited length, obliterating the old 4GB limit imposed by Windows. In addition, MediaStudio finally supports automatic scene detection, a feature that cuts video into scenes for easier editing.
More powerful than Adobe Premiere, MediaStudio includes numerous extras. There's a built-in color calibration tool for optimizing video capture from analog cameras and some truly innovative transition effects. Best of all, MediaStudio includes a paint program that we used to retouch and animate moving video. You'll need to do your homework to make great video with MediaStudio Pro.
MediaStudio Pro 6.5Rating: 95
Manufacturer: Ulead Systems310-896-6388; www.ulead.com
Price: $495 ($199 upgrade)
Requirements: Windows 98/2000/NT/Me; 64MB of RAM; 300MB of hard disk space
Pros: Comprehensive digital video capture, editing, and production features
Cons: Densely packed features may be too much for many users; some options hard to find