Look at enough YouTube videos and if you don't cry at the state of humanity, you'll certain cry at the lack of production work on many of them. Sure, programs such as Windows MovieMaker and YouTube's built-in editor can easily trim video and add a simple title, but if you want to fix a shaky camera hand or add more panache to your videos, you'll need a more powerful editor. That's where the $79.99 Corel VideoStudio Pro X5 comes in. This stable and inexpensive video editor features plenty of templates to get users' creative juices going, plus it now has native HTML 5 encoding, making it easy for users to add videos to their personal websites.
Open up Corel VideoStudio X5 and you're greeted with a window advertising the Corel Guide, which includes video tutorials and mostly free downloads of additional templates, titles, fonts and audio files. While it's helpful information, the call to sign up for the guide is heavy-handed. A first quick glance at the window made us think that we couldn't use the program without registering for the Corel Guide. You absolutely can--just close the window by clicking the "X" in the upper right corner.
Once you're past that, VideoStudio X5 is laid out much like other video editors such as Windows MovieMaker and iMovie. There's a preview/trim window on the upper left side of the screen; the library of videos, audio and effects sits on the upper right; and the timeline/storyboard pane runs along the bottom half of the screen. New in this version of the software is the ability to scale the size of the workspace so that VideoStudio X5 can be easily spread out in multimonitor setups. When you've adjusted the workspace to your liking, it may be saved as a custom layout that's easily accessible via hotkeys.
VideoStudio Pro X5 retains the three-step workflow introduced in X4: Capture, Edit and Share. Oddly enough, the program opens by default in the Edit stage, which now supports up to 21 tracks of video. Though the program accepts a wide variety of files, it renames them after import--so forget about giving your clips memorable file names in place of tagging. Speaking of which, we wish Corel had included support for tagging and search in the file library so that files and effects could be found more quickly.
One of the new features in VideoStudio Pro X5 is screen capture, which records what you're doing on your screen along with the audio from your laptop's microphone. It's ideal for YouTubers who enjoy creating how-to videos, and in our tests, it was dead simple to use. Press F10 to start recording and F11 to stop. The video and audio is automatically saved in your library and ready for editing. While recording our screen, we were impressed by how it didn't cause any noticeable lag on our Intel Core i3 system. According to Corel, VideoStudio Pro X5 avoids lag by using Windows Media API, which provides acceleration benefits.
With this version of VideoStudio Pro, Corel has also enhanced multithreading capability and leveraging of recent multicore processors from AMD and Intel. VideoStudio Pro X5 takes advantage of a processor's multiple cores by assigning different tasks to each available core, which makes everything from playing back HD video in the preview window to exporting HD video run smoother and, ideally, more quickly. We layered four 720p tracks on top of one another and played them all back at once. While the video wasn't ultra smooth, it was still recognizable as it played and the audio was clear.
Another new feature in VideoStudio Pro X5 is HTML 5 encoding, which gives video watchers DVD-like menu controls and the ability to access HTML links directly from the video. From here you can create interactive videos that let the viewer choose what they want to see. Not only does it give the viewer more control, it provides a fun way to for editors to put videos together. For example, we could see a prospective bride creating an interactive video as part of her wedding website.
The only downer is that if you decide you want to make an HTML 5 video, you have to decide that at the beginning. The initial HTML 5 selection of templates and titles is greatly reduced, but more may be downloaded from Corel Guide. However, the benefit of HTML 5 is that VideoStudio Pro X5 will render videos created from an HTML 5 project in both the WebM and H.264 formats. Translated-- your video will work in Adobe Flash-based players and HTML 5-based players and browsers.
Finally, VideoStudio Pro X5 sets itself apart from comparable video suites with its ability to create stop motion video clips. Though you could previously do it with just your webcam, the new iteration of the software includes support for Canon DSLRs. Just connect a Canon DSLR to your PC via USB, set up your shot, and you're on your way to creating a stop-motion masterpiece. The program takes all of your shots and instantly compiles them into a video clip, which makes it easy to add titles and effects, but not so easy to modify a stop-motion shot that's a little off. Thankfully, there's an adjustable translucent outline of your previous shot that helps keep your shots consistent.
VideoStudio Pro X5 never crashed while we were using it on our two-year old HP G62 with a 2.13-GHz Intel Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM, and it only stuttered when we purposely tried to crash it by overloading the timeline with four video clips played back simultaneously.
Still, VideoStudio Pro didn't blow us away with its video output speeds. A 40-second screen capture with one static title overlay took 3 minutes and 4 seconds to render into a 1920 x 1080 MP4 file. A 2:21 720p video with a 5-second animated arrow effect took more than 35 minutes just to render 50 percent of the project as HTML 5. That same 2:21 video placed on a static background template with a cut, a transition, a charcoal effect and background music took 34:03 to render to 1920 x 1080. When we rendered the same video using the MPEG Optimizer, the program recommended we output it at 720 x 480 and took a more respectable 12:16 to render. Using the same 2:21 clip with a similar charcoal-drawing effect and a static title at the beginning, Windows MovieMaker took 6:09 to render it to a 1920 x 1080 WMV file. Granted, we weren't using the fastest system around, but it was still well within Corel's minimum specs, which require an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.83-GHz processor or AMD Dual-Core 2.0-GHz and 2GB of RAM.
When you're ready to share your video, VideoStudio Pro X5 provides the option to upload it directly to Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube, or YouTube 3D. Yes, you heard that right, VideoStudio Pro X5 also supports importing and editing 3D video formats such as MVC and MPO, giving you a chance to make changes to your "Avatar" sequel before sending it to YouTube.
If you're looking to take home videos a step further than Windows MovieMaker, Corel's VideoStudio Pro X5 is a good place to start. The program will run well on most mainstream laptops (save for rendering time) and it's a good deal at $79.99 considering all of the templates and effects that are included and the myriad more that are available for free from Corel Guide. We really had fun using the screen capture and stop motion tools--the former is a must for teachers and the latter is an easy way for the next Walt Disney to get started. If you're interested in a video suite that's easy enough for the whole family to use, VideoStudio Pro X5 is worth a look.