Launched alongside PaintShop Photo Pro X3 (see opposite), Corel is launching VideoStudio Pro X3, aimed at the digital video market. Despite the joint launches, though, there's oddly no combined suite, so each must stand on its own.
Well, almost. Corel has never been able to resist the urge to bundle so, when you first load the program, a Quick Launcher screen appears where you can choose between new Advanced Edit and Easy Edit modes. Choose the latter and you're actually loading a different application: VideoStudio Express 2010.
This allows simple movie creation, combining photos and videos based on a handful of starting templates. However, as the same starting templates are now available from within the more powerful VideoStudio Pro, it's unlikely you'll load Express more than once.
VideoStudio Pro is a far more efficient way of editing your videos anyway, and this is principally down to a significant overhaul of the front-end. In particular, VideoStudio Pro X3 now offers just three major workflow tabs - Capture, Edit and Share.
It's the central Edit tab that's been reworked the most and here you can view all your media, transitions, titles, graphics, filters and audio options. It really does cut through the complexity of the whole video-editing process, and makes it both intuitive and enjoyable.
The control over titles has been enhanced too, and multiple title effects can now be added on separate tracks. The same is true for audio handling, which offers two additional music tracks and new audio filters.
Most impressive is the inclusion of a wide range of AutoMusic tracks and track variations from SmartSound. The advantage of AutoMusic tracks is that they adapt themselves to the length of clip.
VideoStudio Pro X3's handling of effects has also been overhauled. There's now support for filters across multiple tracks, and the range of filters has been expanded, two of which immediately caught our eye.
The first, AutoSketch, takes a frame or photo and makes it look as if it's being painted onscreen. The second, RotoSketch, applies an attractive greyscale painterly effect to live video.
Even more useful is the addition of a range of sampler effects from NewBlueFX, including a Picture-in-Picture filter complete with animations, borders, shadows and reflections. Alas, X2's equally excellent NewBlueFX Film Look filter seems to have been dropped.
What really stands out about VideoStudio Pro X3's effects handling, though, is its speed. Thanks to hardware acceleration support for Intel Core i7 and Nvidia CUDA, Corel is claiming a doubling in VideoStudio Pro X3's overall performance.
The benefits of offloading to the GPU are particularly evident when it comes to encoding, 3D transitions and certain optimised filters where it enables real-time previewing.
Playback smoothness still depends on the number of tracks and effects, the resolution of your footage and the speed of your system.
However, thanks to VideoStudio Pro X3's enhanced Smart Proxy system, which creates smaller, low-compression clips above a given resolution, everything stays responsive - even when dealing with complex HD projects on relatively low-spec PCs.
The final tab - Share - provides VideoStudio Pro X3's output options, and here a number of useful improvements have been made, with added support for AVI, FLV and HD MPEG2 among others.
There are also targeted device output options, including iPod, iPhone and PSP plus automatic upload for YouTube and Vimeo for online sharing (the promised Facebook and Flickr options are mysteriously absent). Most welcome in this online context is the extended support for H.264 encoding.
Alternatively, videos can be burned to disc by hitting the Create Disc command. This opens another bundled application, DVD Factory Pro 2010, where template-based video discs with interactive menus, transitions and effects can be created. Output can be burned to CD, DVD or Blu-ray, but the most popular option is likely to be the AVCHD option providing HD quality on standard DVD.
With HD support from initial capture, including BDMV and AVCHD import, right through to final web and disk-based sharing, VideoStudio Pro X3 meets most modern video requirements, although it's disappointing that X2's WinDVD for HD playback has been dropped. Where the X3 shines, though, is in the efficiency of its workflow and speed of processing.
Since it feels so snappy, Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 encourages creative experimentation, which makes for a more enjoyable video-editing experience and better end results. It's enough to allow VideoStudio Pro X3 to seize the consumer-level video crown from the comparatively unwieldy Premiere Elements 8.