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Turn your PC into a powerful video editing studio with this simple to use package from MGI. Rick Maybury puts down his camcorder and picks up his mouse to put VideoWave through its paces...



Nowhere is the pace of PC development more clearly illustrated than in their ability to process moving video. It is an incredibly complex business, that until very recently remained out of reach of all but the most knowledgeable and well-heeled users. Faster processors and tumbling prices have changed all that. Now it is possible to put together professional-looking productions on a home multimedia system.


However, the hardware is only part of the story. Software has had an equally significant role in the PC video editing revolution. MGI VideoWave is one of the first of a new generation of personal video editing suites, that are no more difficult to use than a word-processor or paint-box program.


VideoWave puts all of the main features of a pukka video studio, into a PC. The PC in question needs to be at least a 486DX/66 with 16MB of RAM and 10Mb of free hard disc space, though as ever MGI are being somewhat optimistic. Unless you enjoy watching paint dry a more realistic minimum specification would be a P133 system with at least 100Mb space on the hard disc and 32Mb of RAM. Better still would be an MMX machine, for which the software has been optimised.


The publicity blurb and packaging needs to be treated with a certain amount of caution. Video capture is at the top of the feature list, but itís important to note that this requires a video capture card, that is not included in the basic package. Itís also important to say that the quality of the finished video will depend to a large extent on the capabilities of the capture card, moreover, if you want to get the video out of the PC and onto tape you will also need some form of video output device. However, you can still put together movies without a capture card, the package includes a CD ROM stuffed full of demo files, video and sound and clips.


The rest of the features are rather more straightforward. After video editing -- more about that in a moment -- the main areas of interest are transitions, special effects, titling and audio editing. The transitions range from a simple cut or dissolve, to a choice of  20 animated wipe patterns.


There are nine special effects categories:

* Swirl -- stirs the image into a whirl of colours

* Spherize -- turns the image into a ball shape

* Brighten -- alters the luminance level of the picture

* Tile -- breaks up the image into a pattern of square blocks

* Relief -- creates a 3D effect by adding texture

* Ripple -- makes the picture appear as though it is seen though water

* Smoked Glass -- adds an opaque filter

* Oil Painting -- exaggerates colour contrast, crating a cartoon like effect

* Oval Frame -- inserts the video into an oval shaped frame.  


Titling is handled by a simple text editor, that adds titles, credits or captions to the video. The colour and transparency of the text can be customised, and it can be made to move on and off the screen. Audio .WAV files can be added to the video; up to three tracks can processed, mixed and edited as required with just a few simple mouse clicks. 


The instruction manual deserves a small pat on the back for being so easy to follow. It assumes little or no prior knowledge and thereís a very useful section on making better video movies.  Installation went smoothly on our testbed PC (P133/16Mb). The program opens with a friendly-looking desktop. At the top thereís the Storyline, represented by a filmstrip, showing the clips and the transitions. On the right side of the screen thereís the main toolbar and library window. In the middle is the main preview screen, control panel and editing time display. Below that are controls for the effects and transitions.


Editing is a doddle. Imported clips are shown on the library window, simply click on the screen icon and drag it to the preview screen. Edit in and out points are determined by two buttons on the control panel, which also shows timings and clip duration. When the cuts have been made, and any necessary adjustments to brightness and colour, the clip is transferred to the Storyline. Transitions, effects and audio clips can be added at any time. The technique is basically the same, and once theyíre completed, can be added to the Storyline.


The Storyline can be saved at any time as a work in progress but the final step is to save the video as a finished production. At this point youíre presented with a number of options. They include the file type (MPEG or QuickTime) and settings for frame size, frame rate, number of colours and compression settings. The instructions do a good job of explaining the ins and out of compression, and thereís an introduction to video streaming. This enables video and audio clips to be incorporated into Internet Web page. VideoWave supports four streaming protocols: VDOLive, Vxtreme, Clear Video and Vivo Active.


The quality of the finished video depends on a number of factors, including the speed and configuration of the PC, capture card and the nature of the original video. The results on our very modestly-specified system were most impressive, the excellent range of special effects will keep most budding video directors amused for hours. Arguably thereís too many of them, the temptation is to over use the more eye-catching effects (Swirl, Spherize and Ripple), and end up with a dogs-dinner of a movie... Video footage shot on an 8mm camcorder were stored using a MediaVision capture board. Playback at the default compression and quality settings was relatively smooth, there was some loss of detail but colours were reasonably natural-looking.


VideoWave is an ideal introduction to PC video editing but it has enough advanced facilities and effects to appeal to more adventurous or demanding users. The most impressive feature has to be ease of use. Video editing is basically a simple process but a lot of packages and systems manage to make it appear a lot more complicated than it actually is. VideoWave cuts through the jargon and mystique, the user interface is largely intuitive -- Windows veterans should be able to get it up and running with no difficulty whatsoever -- making it suitable for video movie makers of all aspirations and abilities. Recommended.



Simple to use video capture and editing software for PC

How much?                   £99

Features                       video capture (with capture card, not supplied), special effects, transitions, titling, text animation, MPEG encoder/decoder, audio editor and mixer

MGI sales information, telephone (01628) 680227            ,



Features                       *****

Ease of use                   ****

Value for money            *****



R. Maybury 1997 1009



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