ArcSoft MediaImpression

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Reasonable performance - slow on winxp. Not intuitive."

    February 12, 2010  |   By gr33nman

    Pros

    It comes as an autoinstall when you buy a kodak Zi8. It's a solid application that does what it says it will do - edit video and make a movie. It will edit Full HD. On a windows machine it has a decidedly Itunes look and feel. It's not crash-prone.

    Cons

    The interface is not entirely intuitive, but with a little patience, it can be figured out, even without reading a manual. It's frustratingly slow on large files - anything longer than a few minutes. Get out a book while it's rendering.

    Summary

    It allows for hardware acceleration. It performs surprisingly well on a seven-year-old Centrino/Dothan/ATI Radeon 9700 Mobile/WinXP laptop with 2MB RAM - albeit slowly. You can download a few extra themes/transitions from the arcsoft website. Real-time preview is not possible for 720p or FullHD on a slower machine like mine, though it performs fine at 480/360p. I've been able to at least edit 720p video without problems, though I have not tried 1080p.

    Themes/Transitions: Themes in this application mean transitions with stuff happening during clips too. Some are fairly clever. Others are standbys you'll likely use the most. There's one called 'rain' that puts ripples between images and then shows 'drizzle' during clips. If you select 'rain' it will show 'drizzle' through every single clip. If it were just the ripple transition, that might be useful, but drizzle throughout an entire show? No thanks. Similarly with 'snow' and 'old photo'. These can be cute when you're nine, but they quickly lose charm when you're an adult. You can only choose one theme/transition per project. So unless you want your viewer to get tired of that 'blinds' transition or 'snow' theme or zoom, there are only three real choices here: random transition, crossfade and none. There is no granularity to the controls here. Fade-in and -out are fixed, but reasonable.

    Theme terminology: The term 'Theme' implies a templated system where you can save the color scheme, background, type family, size, etc. with one setting so you can quickly apply it to new or existing clips/frames/projects elsewhere. This understanding of 'themes' does not exist in this version of MediaImpression. So it's just some good and some whacky 'transitions' for now.

    Captions: You _can_ add captions - for instance if you want to translate something or introduce a speaker. Captions are added one at a time and, unlike text frames can have multiple consecutive/coexisting captions on one clip. You cannot add fancy color bars or image overlays or any transparency options to the captions - just straight text in your selected style and color. You _can_ have multiple text styles, sizes and colors in one text box. There is no scrolling caption capability, so, there will be rolling credits at the end. There is some degree of granularity here, which is helpful with regards to ADA considerations.

    Image Frames/Clips/Text Frames: You _can_ import images the same size as your video instead of using single-color Text Frames. You could probably come up with a fairly creative title page and credits page with some well-edited images or video clips. As suggested before, there are no frames, borders, transparency or other types of image overlays except text. There is no way to duplicate a text frame or image frame from within the timeline. You can selectively show, cut or trim parts of an existing clip for use in your movie.

    Audio: There are no audio loops included with the system. If you select only one sound file, it will repeat however many times are necessary to complete the video. The only way to selectively create silent areas and multiple sound fades is to edit these into one new audio file the exact length of your video in a separate audio editor. There is no way to 'punch in' audio to create a running commentary. Granularity of control is lacking on this front too. There is no way to fade in or fade out on audio. As a video clip audio gets louder, your audio clip fades into the background. So if you were thinking about making an audio commentary with clip audio faded, that won't work here. Clip audio will have to be turned off.

    Accessibility factor: Control keys, right-clicking and standard text selection capabilities are entirely inaccessible in this software. That can be frustrating if you are used to being able to select a text box to copy it and paste it somewhere else. You'll have to manually configure every... single... text... consideration... each... time.

    Manuals: There are some html help files available from the one pulldown menu labeled 'Extras' in the top right-hand corner of the main window bar next to the minimize button -- entirely non-mac, non-windows, non-linux intuitive. There should at least be a pdf editing manual. Even better, they should have some links to video tutorials of how to actually create movies on line. In about ten minutes of video tutorial, a lot could be cleared up.

    Regardless of its shortcomings, this solution is better than many other similarly-priced solutions available. It might seem odd to repeat, but doesn't crash like most video editing software usually does on Windows machines. If you buy a Kodak Zi8, it comes preinstalled on the camera, and will attempt to install on our computer when you first plug in via USB in Windows. (Mac Users rely on the excellent iMovie.) Until I can afford a Mac or Adobe CS4 Master Collection, this will remain a standby in my system.

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