It is a lot easier nowadays to create digital videos than it was ten or even five years ago. Today, nearly every smartphone in existence comes with cameras and apps that you can use for that purpose.
There are also webcams installed in nearly every laptop and many tablet computers, and the rise of video telephony has introduced them to desktop systems as well.
What has not really changed that much is what happens after you have recorded the video. It is usually in a format that you can play natively, but once you want to share it with others, upload it to Internet sites, or burn it to DVD to watch on the big telly, you will realize that you may need to convert it into a compatible format before you can do so.
Conversion on the other hand is just part of the movie editing process. Maybe you also want to cut parts off it, or add something, music for instance or opening credits, to it.
That's where programs like Ashampoo's Movie Studio come into play.
Movie Studio provides you with the tools to author and edit movies on your home PC. It enables you to cut, trim and convert videos, add background music and effects to it, and export the edited video files afterwards or burn them to disc.
When you first start the program you are asked to pick one out of four possible activities:
You can create a blank movie project, or make use of a wizard that walks you through the configuration. If you select a blank project, you are taken to the main interface for that.
It is divided into three main parts: first the preview area on the left, second the add menus on the right of that, and third the timeline at the bottom.
You can add videos or pictures via drag & drop, or use the add options at the top to do the same thing. It is interesting to note that you can use Movie Studio to create photo slideshows as well as videos.
If you add videos, you may run into compatibility issues depending on the formats your videos are in. Movie Studio supports several popular formats such as avi out of the box, but lacks support for other formats such as flv and even mp4.
You need to install the appropriate codecs to add support for these video formats to the application.
As far as supported video formats go, the following ones are supported:
*.263, *.264, *.ASF, *.ASX, *.AVI, H261, *.H263, *.M1V, *.M2T, *.M2V, *.MP2V, *.MPA, *.MPE, *.MPEG, *.MPEGTS, *.MPG, *.MPV2, *.VC1, .WEBM, *.WMV, *.WMX, *.WTV, *.WXV
Incompatible files are visualized with a yellow exclamation mark while compatible videos with a preview icon so that you know instantly which you can add and which you cannot.
Once you have added at least one video or image, you will notice that it appears in the timeline in the lower half. You can preview it at any time right from here, or use some of the tools made available to modify it.
Here it is for instance possible to add effects to the video or part of it. This includes improving brightness or contrast, rotating or mirroring the display, normalizing the audio or applying effects such as Sepi or Old Movie to it.
Other tools provided include cutting or splitting the video. Both operations are really easy to use. If you select split, a new window opens that you use to select the position that you want to split. This can be useful to divide a video into different parts, for example to add different types of effects to it.
Here you can also add music, transitions, overlays or themes to the video that you want to create.
If you add music, it is added as a new row in the timeline which you can manipulate independently of the rest. That's great for photo slideshows for example, as you can control when music starts and for how long it will play.
Once done, you may select output related information. Ashampoo Movie Studio supports avi, wmv and mpg as output formats, and DVD and Blu-Ray discs. Here you need to select a resolution and quality of the output video format as well.
The way the resolution is selected is not ideal though. You can select HD 1080p or HD 720p, DVD quality, TV quality, or mobile quality from the selection menu. The problem here is that you can select a resolution that is higher than that of the input material.
The encode quality configuration on the other hand is excellent. You get a preview of the video file and a quality slider on that screen, so that you can preview the selected quality level directly and in real-time. In addition to that, the estimated file size is shown as well.
Ashampoo Movie Studio is an easy to use software that enables users of all experience levels to edit and create videos on their home computer. Its greatest strength is the program's ease of use.
The program needs support for additional codecs though as it lacks in that area significantly when compared to other video editing applications.
That's however the only gripe that we had with the software during tests.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.