Just bought a snazzy new camera that records to AVCHD but don’t have the software to edit it? No problem. Ulead’s VideoStudio 11 Plus pitches itself as the only app capable of fully editing video captured using Sony’s and Panasonic’s new H.264-based codec, which works with mini-DVDs, hard drives, and flash memory inside cameras. (Nero was technically first, but its editor is pretty threadbare.)
That’s not the only new feature in Studio 11 Plus, though. The app now supports burning to HD DVD, but not Blu-ray. We find this limitation odd because we still haven’t seen an HD DVD burner on the consumer market while Blu-ray burners are approaching the $500 mark. In any event, Ulead says it’ll offer Blu-ray support “soon” and cites standards-ratification problems as the holdup.
Unfortunately, most of our complaints concerning Studio 10 remain true for Studio 11: playback that halts when you change the scale of the timeline, keyboard commands that are difficult to find, and various instances of slow performance. It’s also clunky. If you insert video into your project, the application doesn’t automatically shift audio or other elements to make space for it. That’s just plain dumb.
While we did successfully capture and edit HDV-resolution video from a Canon HV10, performance was subpar despite the ability to use a “smartproxy” method that uses a lower-resolution proxy. And as we mentioned, performance hasn’t improved since VideoStudio 10. Encoding, playback, and responsiveness were sluggish on our Athlon 64 FX-60 box with 2GB of RAM. Premiere Elements 3.0 and CyberLink PowerDirector 6—both capable of editing HDV content—felt far more responsive.
VideoStudio does some things nicely, though. White balance and color correction are fairly intuitive. We especially like the white-balance icons, which most people will find familiar from their digital still cameras, and a couple of new filters helped clean up noise on video recorded from TV and the Internet. The app imported video from unencrypted commercial DVDs without a problem as well.
Sadly, while there’s plenty that’s new here, there are plenty of problems, too. Right now, VideoStudio’s main saving grace is AVCHD capability, but there are better choices elsewhere, such as Pinnacle’s new Studio 11 (which also now does AVCHD) or even Premiere Elements.
One of the few AVCHD editing suites out there; nice white-balance and color-correction tools.
Sluggish performance; no Blu-ray burning; lots of UI problems left over from Studio 10.