Corel VideoStudio Pro
What do you need to know about free software?
The latest release of Corel Studio focuses on building up its consumer-level video-editing and production suite. Version X6 of VideoStudio is essentially Corel's response to the rise of HD content on affordable consumer gadgets. Corel has diligently kept up with consumers' pace when it comes to supporting such file types.
Using VideoStudio Pro as a primary editing program was a mixed bag; as someone who frequently produces videos on both a casual and professional basis, I had trouble envisioning the audience that Corel is targeting with VideoStudio. But first let's cover the core features.
Editing videos clips in Video Studio takes place in two workspace modes: storyboard and timeline. Here is where personal preference comes into play. On one hand, Corel's workspace layout is tailored to getting users quickly into the video workspace. To edit videos, simply drag and drop your clips into an area at the bottom of the interface. On the other hand, more-conventional editors use a tree-view library structure with folders that allow for better management of large projects. VideoStudio Pro lets you get to work quickly, but it can become a hassle as you work with more media clips.
Corel approaches video editing with a concentration on individual clips and moments, primarily on a single video track. The result is a workflow that forces you to focus on incremental production if you want to create a higher-quality product for longer movies. The workflow should be fine for a homemade movie trailer or 5-minute video sequence, but it is far less than ideal for bigger projects that deal with multiple takes, angles, and sound clips on one track.
Layering is limited to one main video track, with up to 20 "overlay" tracks, one main "voice" track, and up to three additional music tracks. You can easily make picture-in-picture effects by layering videos in the timeline and track. It's also a good way to sync multiple clips together of the same scene. However, I found myself getting the main and overlay tracks confused as more and more clips piled on.
Adding transitions and effects are also as simple as dragging and dropping -- navigate to an effect or overlay on the upper-right panel, then drag your selection onto the clip in your storyboard or timeline. Rendering preview animations from the menu caused noticeable slowdown of my machine, so you don't want to spend too much time with this option running. In my test setup (Core i7 processor, GTX460 GPU, and 8GB RAM), the program seemed to struggle when rendering dSLR footage at 1080p resolution shot with a Canon 600D; however, rendering 1080p footage taken with a Galaxy S3 worked flawlessly. Your mileage will likely vary depending on your specs.
Another major addition to version X6 is the ability to set motion tracking and define paths for overlay objects. Corel's VideoStudio comes packed with a few stock patterns and paths, but I can hardly think of many scenes or casual videos that I'd shoot that would be appropriate for those. Instead, I'd rather focus on the custom path or tracking tool. You can select a person or object in each clip, and VideoStudio will attempt to follow that person in the footage by scanning each frame. The result is an automated path that can also be accompanied by simple text or graphics, like a floating name, identifier, or even a silly face. A more practical application would be sports footage, where a bike racer or speeding downhill skier could be tracked and identified by name.
Though it's not perfect, you can edit and adjust motion paths to smooth jagged points and create more-polished effects. There are many variables that will affect the quality of your results, but overall it's a neat feature if used sparingly and correctly.
Corel has many interesting features to its base unit, with added bonuses and effects in the Ultimate package. Though VideoStudio X6 can certainly handle footage from more-advanced machines, professional users will probably prefer alternative options even if the price tag remains higher, because of the limitations of the workflow within X6. VideoStudio X6 is much better for casual or hobby users using nondedicated gadgets like smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras. At its reasonable price, X6 is close to hitting that attractive sweet spot for the right low-to-mid-end user.