It’s easy to fall into the habit of classifying all software in a specific category as alike. Yet whether we're talking about video editing software or word processors, for example, individual applications vary in ease of use, features, and cost. LoiLoScope 2 represents one flavor of video editing software. It is a modestly priced Windows software application geared to consumers who are interested in producing videos to post on YouTube or Facebook, or to e-mail to friends and family.
In terms of capabilities, LoiLoScope is in the same general category as Muvee Reveal X and Microsoft Movie Maker. One notch up from these entry-level applications are products like Corel Video and Adobe Premiere Elements 10. Beyond that, you'll find advanced applications such as Avid and Vegas.
As one distinction from the test of the pack, LoiLoScope contends that its software can run well on notebooks as well as desktop PCs. As one of the points covered in this review, we'll examine whether that holds true.
Yet before taking a closer look at LoiLoScope and delivering our test results, we'll do a quick run through of the process of making a video and how LoiLoScope supports that process.
At a macro view, LoiLoScope supports the same procedures as higher-end applications, although in a considerably less formal way. Essentially, the product lets you take a bunch of video and still clips and turn them into something that tells the story you have in mind.
In order to accomplish this, you need to be able to get the clips (which may be in differing file formats) into the software, trim the clips if required, assemble them into the presentation order that makes sense to you, and then create the finished video in a format that works well with how you want to distribute the movie.
Ease of use
For the uses that most beginning video editors will put it to, LoiLoScope 2 offers the needed features. If you’ve used another entry-level editor before, you’ll find your way around LoiLoScope 2 pretty easily.
If this is your first attempt at video making, you’ll find that the step-by-step Guides at the bottom of each screen will help a lot, walking you through most of the steps necessary to produce something viewable (assuming that you start out with video clips in viewable condition).
LoiLoScope 2 also has a pretty decent online manual. You might need that, too, because certain operations simply aren't that intuitive. (For example, when you choose the video clips that you want to work with by checking small boxes in the lower left corners of the clips, then what? Help is available by clicking on a box on the lower right side of the screen, but doing so only brings you to LoiLo's Web site and opens the manual for you.)
Operations such as setting output resolutions and video transitions can be performed either manually or automatically in LoiLoScope.
LoiLoScope 2 also comes with some nice sample media such as stamps and titles to use in your video productions. Although there could be more of these included in the package, it's also easy to find additional media on the Internet to slot in with your own material,
Video editing on a laptop?
Is LoiLoScope 2 really appropriate for doing video editing on a laptop? To some extent, yes, and to some extent, no. SD (standard definition) videos require only an Intel Atom (or Pentium 4) CPU and 1GB of RAM. yet many of LoiLoScope 2’s higher end features, such as creating HD (high definition) videos for Blu-ray disk burning -- call for a system with considerably more horsepower than that of a notebook PC.
Also on a notebook, you won't be able to take advantage of LoiLoScope 2’s ability to use nVidia’s CUDA. Some aspects of video creation, especially transcoding the finished video into a specific output file format, use a lot of CPU power. CUDA offloads some of this work into the GPU (Graphical Processing Unit) on the video card. This speeds up video processing considerably, but it requires a fairly high-end video card which supports CUDA. That kind of video card is more commonly available for top-of-the-line desktop PCs rather than laptops.
In any case, LoiLo’s system requirements officially specify at least a Core2 Duo running at 2GHz or better, at least 2GB of RAM, and, for notebook use, Intel G45 or better graphics. You’ll need to be running either Windows Vista or Windows 7 to use the software. Also, before you start, you’ll need to check that Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 is installed on the PC. If it’s not, you’ll need to download it from Microsoft’s download center and install it before you begin to use LoiLoScope 2.
How we tested
All of our testing was performed on a Lenovo X1 laptop with a 13-inch screen. This machine has a second generation i5-2520 CPU running at 2.5Ghz, 4GB of RAM. It's running the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional. As so configured, this is a fairly powerful laptop.
LoiLo explains that the software has direct video import from a variety of cameras, none of which we had available. We didn’t have a problem with this, because you can just import video and stills using drag-and-drop from the camera’s storage media (if it uses a memory card like an SD card), or by downloading it with a USB cable from the video device using the Windows Import feature. You can then edit away.
We used video clips from a number of sources in our testing. Several were from different cameras including a Toshiba Camileo S30 digital camcorder, a Samsung SC-D353 camcorder, and a GE X500 digital camera.
For most of our testing, we used a HD clip of a recent satellite launch downloaded from NASA’s website in MOV format. This served as our main test file since we wanted to make sure that the quality of the finished output video was not compromised by the resolution or quality of the file being edited. (If you want to see the file we used, you can find it here.
Setup and configuration
The original file we downloaded consumed 74.5Mb, and it took less than a minute to download. Running the install was also quick. We were then presented with a startup screen that notified us that a new version was available. We were asked whether we'd like to download it.
We were a little puzzled by this, as we had just downloaded the application. However, we did download the new version -- which turned out to be slightly larger at 81.5Mb -- and reinstalled the software. At which point, we were ready to start using the software.
When starting LoiLoScope 2, you are presented with a list of possible steps you can perform, ranging from opening an existing project or beginning a new project all the way to choosing the output format and finishing the video.
This list scrolls down through the bottom edge of the screen, rather than being organized into layers or tabs that take up only a single screen. (In contast, in some other applications, we’ve found that a ribbon or tabbed set of screens lets you choose a grouped set of operations.)
Getting video from a supported camera into LoiLoScope 2 is easy and quick. A menu system on the opening screen lets you import from video tapes. Also, the application will search for any clips it can find on your PC or a device or card attached to it. It organizes the selected clips into a library for choosing which ones you want to use in creating your video.
Working with clips
Once you’ve chosen the clips you want in the media browser, you just drag and drop them out of the browser screen and onto the LoiLoScope desktop. When you have all the videos, stills, and audio pieces, you hit the “Output” button and you can do any necessary editing and sizing on the clips that you’ve selected. (Alternatively, you can also make these types of adjustments later on, if you discover a need to do so.)
When you’re done editing the clips, you bring them over to the Timeline screen and drop them onto the Timeline in the order that you want. A timeline is pretty much the standard way to assemble a video from clips. Most video editing software, from entry-level applications like LoiLoScope 2 up to professional editing tools, use this approach.
The Timeline is also where you insert transitions such as fade out- fade in, shrink and grow screens, and lots of others that you’ve probably noticed on other videos, TV, and movies. You might be tempted to go with with these, as there’s a nice selection. Keep in mind, though, that the object of a transition effect is to move smoothly from one scene to another, not to pull the viewer’s attention from the video to the transitions.
LoiLoScope 2 also lets you create titles and enter text or write on a scene using a pen tool. There’s an “Effects” tool that lets you blur, glow, and add stamps to your video. LoiLoScope 2 provides a variety of stamps including arrows, spray and rollers.
One area that’s not clearly self-explanatory is working with audio. There’s a button to adjust volume and to visualize waveform, but not much information on how you add music or voiceover. Actually, this is done with the use of an additional separate Timeline. Depending on the file format, the Timeline will be displayed in different colors.
Transcoding the video into a finished format
When you’re happy with the way your video looks and runs, LoiLoScope 2 provides a way to put it into a format designed for a specific purpose. This process of converting video files from one format and/or resolution to another is called transcoding.
LoiLoScope gives you options to finish the video and upload it to Facebook, YouTube, or Vimeo, or to set the output to be watched on portable devices such as iPad, iPod/iPhone, PS3, and others. You can also set LoiLoScope to create and burn a DVD or Blu-ray disc.
Pricing and support
LoiLoScope 2 is produced by LoiLo, a software developer based in Japan. With the reach of the Internet today, however, it doesn't much matter where a company is physically located, as most support is conducted by e-mail.
A 30-day free trial is available. If you download the trial, and then decide to purchase a license, you shouldn't need to reinstall the software. A license is currently priced at $79.99. A packaged edition of the software is also available, but only in Japan.
Overall, LoiLoScope 2 does a very nice job and is not difficult to learn. It’s fine for making videos for friends or family, or to upload to the Internet. Transcoding time isn’t especially different from that of similar products, depending on the power of your laptop or desktop PC.
The step-by-step Guides that walk you through each part of the video creation process make LoiLoScope 2 a good choice for a beginning video maker.
Software & Support
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