Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 Review

by Reads (38,300)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 8
      • Performance
      • 5
      • Total Score:
      • 6.50
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Revised UI looks good
    • Great export options
    • Includes DVD mastering
  • Cons

    • Painful lags
    • No progress updates
    • Advanced mode still illogical

By Dustin Sklavos

Corel’s VideoStudio Pro X3 has a completely revamped user interface. Does it deliver on its ease-of-use promises, or is VideoStudio X3 all flash, no substance? We take a look in this review.

For someone like me, Corel’s VideoStudio Pro X3 creates a very tenuous situation. On the one hand, when last Corel and I spoke about video editing software, it was to give them a severe lashing for the stunning pile of mediocrity that was VideoStudio Pro X2. I was testing it against other contenders in the consumer video editing arena and it came up pretty short compared to personal favorites like Sony Vegas and Pinnacle’s Video Studio. Since then I’ve reviewed updated versions of Pinnacle and Adobe’s Premiere Elements, but my recommendations haven’t really changed. Corel seeks to change them.

Judging from the thrashing of my hard drives, Corel seeks a lot of things. And just like the still woefully empty library window, they’re not going to find what they’re looking for.

 

WHAT’S NEW

Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 first openBefore we get too far into this review, I’d suggest going back and reading my review of Corel VideoStudio Pro X3’s predecessor, X2, so you have a frame of reference when I start throwing around terms like “illusion of progress.”

From the get-go, you can tell that Corel went back to the drawing board for the new version. The interface has changed and is well abstracted, and it at least seems like this part has been majorly improved.

Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 advanced editorWhen you get into the advanced editor, you’ll find things have radically changed, even progressed, but it’s still not as intuitive as I’d like. The essential order of the timelines remains unchanged, and that was one of my biggest complaints: video timelines go in the order of “Video above Overlay above Title,” when the exact opposite order would be more logical.

The reason I showed you the advanced mode first was to give you a taste of what’s changed with the familiar; the advanced editor looks a lot like VideoStudio X2. What’s really new is the easy mode editor.

EASY MODE? NOT SO MUCH

The easy mode has the trappings of something that could be very functional, but it started downhill for me.

The first thing Corel’s software does is search your hard drive for media to edit with. Seems sensible. I went ahead and waited a few minutes for the program to index all my stuff, noting that I have nearly a terabyte of usable data on my system because, hey, I work as a videographer. But I didn’t want to hold anything against the program, so eventually I just hit “OK.”

Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 import windowOnce I got into the program’s “desktop,” I found that the user interface had been largely streamlined and in many ways for the better. I like the look, and going into the import drop box revealed very easy to understand, very visual icons for getting to what you want to get to. So I did the sensible thing and hunted down a folder on my machine that I knew only had a little over four hours of HDV footage in it. I checked the box next to the folder I wanted to add to the library, and presto…

…it didn’t show up.

Oh the swirling icon still powered along at the bottom right corner of the window, but none of my material actually manifested in the library. I waited. Nothing showed up. I waited some more. Nothing showed up. The autosearch having trouble getting everything at the beginning? That I could understand. But, frankly, my computer is far too fast for this to take so long.

Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 express editI went for the Express Edit of the sample video in the program. It took an abnormally long time to load, and didn’t offer any visual cue that it was loading until the Express Edit window finally materialized. I was worried I’d already made the program hang.

Here’s where Corel’s representatives would probably cry foul: I wound up not spending a whole lot of time trying to figure out how to edit video, and a large part of that is because I had such a devil of a time getting my own footage inside the program.

TOO MUCH GLOSS, NOT ENOUGH SUBSTANCE

Someone’s going to accuse me for not having enough patience, but the real disappointment here was that it looked like Corel’s developers spent a lot of time working on the user interface and experience for the easy mode. They went back to the drawing board and thought a lot about how their prospective users might muddle their way through the software. I respect and admire that. User experience has been a large part of what’s kept Apple doing so well, and the hard lesson Microsoft eventually learned and capitalized on with the release of Windows 7.

Unfortunately, things don’t seem to be running quite so well under Corel’s hood. My computer has a quad core processor running stable at 3.7 GHz, 8GB of memory, and my source video files sit on a striped RAID (you don’t need to know what that is other than to understand it’s fast and ideal for high definition editing). I have never used any video editing software on my machine that felt less responsive than Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 does.

When I import existing footage into the program’s library, it needs to index it and be done with it. It needs to show up yesterday, not make me wait for minutes on end. When you import existing footage in Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, the footage shows up immediately in your project window, and then a progress bar at the bottom right side of the window shows the footage itself being indexed for easy access. In an ideal situation you do wait for the video to finish indexing, but you know what? At least the program tells you it is indexing.

Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 express exportRight from the primary library view, Corel’s software gives you plenty of ways to export your footage, hitting all the right notes and covering the bases. From the editor proper, you can export to all the same places or even pop your project open in the advanced editor.

These features are all great, useful tools, but they aren’t going to do you much good if the software itself is largely unresponsive and you have issues importing existing footage off of your own hard drive.

I’m willing to accept the possibility that I got a bad egg. The beauty of free trials is that someone else can download and pop open the software and maybe even have a better experience than I did. I certainly like the changes made to the interface proper and Corel’s efforts to make things simpler for the average user. While they do suggest visiting their website for proper tutorials on how to use it, it seems clear to me the developers were looking to make sure just about anyone could jump in and get cracking.

 

CONCLUSION

I hate that I’d have to recommend the previous version over this one, but I do. Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 had its own issues, but at least it felt like it could work. VideoStudio Pro X3…I’m just not sure what’s going on under the hood. It’s a disappointment because Corel’s Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 image editing software rocked my socks, because the new user interface in this version held a lot of promise, and because I’d been hoping that (unlike Adobe’s most recent half-baked rehash of Premiere Elements) Corel would actually have improved their product.

I just can’t recommend something that barely works. Nothing should lag that badly on a system like mine; I can’t imagine how it’ll run on an average consumer machine.

PROS

  • Revised UI looks good
  • Great export options
  • Includes DVD mastering

CONS

  • Painful lags
  • No progress updates
  • Advanced mode still illogical



LEAVE A COMMENT

0 Comments

|
All content posted on TechnologyGuide is granted to TechnologyGuide with electronic publishing rights in perpetuity, as all content posted on this site becomes a part of the community.