Corel VideoStudio Pro X9 and VideoStudio Ultimate X9 are the latest version releases of Corel’s popular and feature packed consumer video editing software.
This product has been around for quite some time and VideoStudio is now a well matured and stable program benefitting from development by Corel and its predecessors for a number of years.
On a personal note I just checked the Corel site and my first copy of VideoStudio was version 6 under the now defunct Ulead name back in 2004!
The software has continued to succeed largely because when Corel took it over a few years ago engaged in an ongoing dialogue with their most active users on their excellent “user to user” forum.
They haven’t just tried to passively defend their program to their existing customer base or read their minds but have proactively sought both advice and ideas for future direction.
VideoStudio Pro X9 and Ultimate X9 is a great example of what can happen when a software company like Corel listens and makes an effort not to just correct errors but to satisfy needs.
The result of this smart move has been steady forward development in the functionality, usability and stability of each year’s final release candidate.
I have no reservations in recommending Corel VideoStudio Pro X9 or Ultimate X9 to anyone looking for editing software at this level.
The program does everything it is supposed to do, does it very well and easily holds its own against the competition in the consumer grade editing software market.
You can take a look at the video below to get an idea of what the software has on offer but bear two things in mind while you are watching.
First, the video was produced using VideoStudio Ultimate X9… which is a good thing.
Second, it is after all an advertisement so don’t get too carried away!
Pro X9 versus Ultimate X9
Before I go any further let’s first of all take a look at the difference between the standard Pro X9 and Ultimate X9.
The software is competitively priced within its market however by going from the Pro X9 to the Ultimate X9 version you get some serious bang for your extra $20.00!
The two are essentially the same except that with the Ultimate X9 version you get everything in the Pro X9 version plus premium special effects packs that take the software to a new level.
It is important to note that these individual modules are integrated into the overall program and it is these that give VideoStudio Ultimate X9 the pro tools appearing in many of the consumer level products these days.
Some brands have opted for completely separate modules to extend their capabilities and others like Corel have simply turned to the experts in their respective fields and incorporated those features into the main program.
Neither system is superior to the other however the difference is in how the company has achieved the integration.
In the case of VideoStudio that integration has been executed very well.
The additional features you get with the Ultimate X9 version are:
The premium special effects packs from Prodad, NewBlue FX and Boris which adds hundreds of extra effects, presets, filters and tools.
In the multicam editing module you can simultaneously edit up to 6 clips at a time rather than the 4 on offer in Pro X9.
The ability to import and edit MXF (XAVC) Video Files which is a broadcast quality video file format.
So What’s New and Improved?
To be honest this has not been the type of update that has been designed to wow the public with shiny bells and whistles and for me that is always a good thing.
Every time I see a video editing program maker loudly announce a whole bunch of new features I cringe a little!
More often than not those new features are half baked and generally take another version or two before they are running the way they should be.
This is not the case with VideoStudio Pro X9.
The main addition to this update is the inclusion of an editing module allowing you to simultaneously edit video from different sources at the same time.
Multicam editing gives you the ability to load a bunch of clips of the same event and then instead of cutting and chopping them all up into a sequence you can just “switch” between clips to achieve how you would like the end product to look.
The main use for this feature is when you have video files available to you of one common event. For example a children’s party or family gathering where more than one person has captured footage.
In a normal editing situation of course all this footage could be combined but the reality of doing that is that it is complicated, tedious and very difficult to do.
The major problem here is synchronizing all the video to the available audio to create a seamless looking and sounding sequence.
The new module allows you to add your footage, select a dominant audio track (the one that plays throughout) and then use a few different methods to synchronize that footage on the timeline.
Once it is all synchronized you can then just step through the timeline and switch between the different camera footage or camera angles which is a huge time saver and stress reliever.
Rather than go on about it you can see what it does in the video below.
The New Filters
A few years back now Corel embarked upon a strategy for adding new features to VideoStudio that was a little different from the rest.
Instead of unleashing their own army of code monkeys on the never ending task of adding new filters, effects, transitions and tools, they decided to let the experts do it instead.
The beauty of this is revealed in two very clear ways.
The first is that Corel were then free to use their code monkeys on the more “nuts and bolts” aspects of the program resulting in continued gains in stability and compatibility.
The second is that by using outside sourced add-ons they have been able to continue adding features but keep the user interface very clean and clutter free.
In fact of all the software at this level VideoStudio easily wins in the interface stakes and it really is as a direct result of that strategy.
This year they have added the effects, filters, transitions package again from NewBlue only this time they have upped it to version 7 of the NewBlue Essentials.
All of this is in addition to their extensive stock tools that are also built into the program.
This is another existing feature that has been given some meaningful enhancement in the new Pro X9 and Ultimate Pro X9 versions.
VideoStudio introduced motion tracking a few versions ago and it has always worked quite well.
For those of you unfamiliar with motion tracking it is simply the action of finding a point or an area that you wish to attach some kind of asset to and have that asset “track” (move) with the point or area you chose.
Imagine an arrow following a kid on a football field.
That arrow has to follow a path which makes sure the arrow is tracking with the child in question.
These are called “motion paths” and the manual way of doing it is marking the point, advancing the footage a little, making another mark, advancing, marking, advancing, and marking on and on and on!
Automatic motion tracking simplifies this by allowing you to select a point or an area then have the software do the hard work and make the path for you.
After that you just attached the image or object you have selected to that path and it follows along.
Unfortunately software can’t actually “see” the footage the way you and I do and often the point or area you select changes enough as the video advances, for the software to “lose sight” of it.
At that point you have to stop, re-select and start again.
This year Corel have introduced an extra way for you to track things automatically called Multipoint tracking.
Instead of choosing a single point to track or an area (square or rectangular) you can choose a shape of any description by selecting up to four separate points for it to track.
There have been a few upgrades made to the audio features in the program this year none of which are anything particularly new but all the same, have added convenience and functionality.
The first of these is a change to the Normalization effect.
Usually when you have video recorded on different devices or in different ways you rarely get any kind of consistency in the volume levels at which they were captured.
The result of this is that the volume levels jump up and down throughout your project.
The Normalization feature automatically levels all the audio tracks to a common volume level to eliminate those jumps.
Previously this feature was only available when you were about to render the entire project to a final distribution file which was OK but a little annoying at times when you were still trying to work on that project.
In the new version you can apply this filter from within the editing module at any time.
The second of the audio improvements concerns the Audio Ducking feature they added in the previous version.
“Ducking” is the action of lowering the background music or sound when any voiceover or narration starts then raising that sound back up when the narration finishes.
The ducking feature in VideoStudio can do this quite well automatically by analyzing the voice track and automatically ducking any other audio tracks at the appropriate times.
In the tests I have done using various audio files I have found that generally speaking the system is very accurate and gets it right most of the time.
There will always be the occasional time when you have to tweak the results a little to get it perfect but let’s face it. Tweaking the existing audio puts you miles ahead of trying to manually do the whole thing yourself.
In VideoStudio Pro X9 and Ultimate X9 they have added a few extra controls allowing you to change the sensitivity of the module to get better results and the ability to increase or decrease the rate at which it raises and lowers the background sound.
Finally in the Audio department they have added extra dedicated audio tracks to the timeline.
Whereas before you could add an extra 4 audio tracks on top of any video tracks with their own audio you can now add up to 8 and this applies to both VideoStudio Pro X9 and VideoStudio Pro Ultimate X9.
I would have to characterize this latest update by Corel as a pretty solid all-round one that has remained focused on genuine improvements as opposed to shiny new objects.
So that’s it for what new and exciting, on to the review!