There aren’t many options in the video editing marketplace if you want to edit 360-degree video, but Corel VideoStudio Ultimate is one of them. That might be enough to sell it to you if your needs are that narrow, but for everybody else, there’s still a lot to like about this application.
Along with 4K video editing, you also get advanced color grading, multipoint motion tracking, video and text masking, seamless transitions and more. VideoStudio is one of the easier to use tools on the market, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t depth available to those who want it. It's one of the best video editing software programs for beginners, but experts will be right at home too.
VideoStudio was originally released by Ulead, but after that company’s acquisition by Canadian graphics giant Corel in 2006, the software became Corel VideoStudio. It’s been through a lot of versions since then, settling on an annual update schedule and taking the year as part of its name in 2018. Since then, it has split into two versions, Pro and Ultimate, with the latter offering additional features but costing more.
Corel VideoStudio Ultimate review: Ease of use
As a non-linear editor aimed at a consumer audience, you’d expect Corel VideoStudio to be easy to use, and it is. The company has a tight relationship with its user-base thanks to its online forum, and many improvements in the software have come straight from user suggestions.
VideoStudio is a Windows-only application, and comes in two forms: the cheaper Pro and more expensive Ultimate. The price difference between them is quite narrow, and with regular online discounts there’s little reason to get the Pro version unless you’re absolutely sure you won’t need Ultimate’s features and want to save $20. For this small cost upgrade, you get six multicam tracks instead of four, enhanced color grading, a 3D title editor, better video stabilization, additional brushes for the painting system, more than 100 templates for the DVD menu creator, and a great many additional effects over the Pro version.
The 360-degree video editor, available in both versions of the app, offers both tiny planet and rabbit hole effects, 360-degree titles, transitions and filters, the ability to convert 360 footage to standard video, and lens corrections for dual fisheye or equirectangular videos. Being one of the few applications to support 360-degree video gives VideoStudio a boost if that’s your thing, but it’s still a niche avocation.
Painting is also included, and enhanced in this new edition, with brushes inspired by those in Corel’s other apps, Painter and Paint Shop Pro. These allow you to create custom overlays, with animation. Your brush strokes are recorded, and played back as part of the video, and you can import a graphic to paint over or start from scratch.
While the app includes import options that go way back to mini-DV cameras and FireWire ports, it doesn’t support tagging of your clips beyond being able to sort them by date, duration, FPS etc. This means, if you’ve got a large library of clips, that you need to be on top of your organisation game. The Library panel does a good job of displaying your media, as long as you were able to find it in the first place to get it there. Again, though, it only has a filename search box.
As for the actual editing part of the app, you get 50 tracks of HD or 4K video, and there are separate tracks for video, overlays, titles, voices and music. You can drag and drop them into place, rotate them, crop and resize and modify playback speed. The all-important lens correction lets you fix the fisheye effect you get from some action cameras, and a mask creator lets you apply effects to only some areas of a video clip, leaving the space outside the mask untouched.
VideoStudio 2020 Ultimate is certainly comprehensive, with multicam functionality for up to six cameras, and a stop-motion creator that grabs still images from a video camera, webcam or DSLR and creates a moving image from them. It can mimic your DSLR viewfinder and give you access to camera settings from inside the app - if your camera is compatible.
Exporting is similarly well-stocked with functionality, housing the ability to upload direct to YouTube, Flickr or Vimeo, or create a file on a local drive with a high level of control. You can burn to disc if your PC is equipped with a disc burner, and create labels for the packaging.
Corel VideoStudio Ultimate review: Speed
The speed of a non-linear video editor completely depends on your CPU. While VideoStudio 2020 supports both Intel Quick Sync and Nvidia CUDA (GPU) hardware for exporting, the bulk of the editing process appears to sit squarely on your CPU.
This aside, there are several new features in the latest version that should speed up your workflow. These include a new user interface designed with 4K screens in mind, meaning you don’t have to use Windows 10’s built-in hi-DPI interface-scaling settings.
Then there’s a Smart Movie Creator, which analyses your movies and still images to create a ‘highlight reel’ of the best parts. This can save enormous amounts of time - as long as you agree with the algorithm’s choices!
Elsewhere, the Storyboard view in the main editing window offers a fast way to organise clips and media together yourself. There are transitions you can insert and trimming tools, but it’s a very basic way to edit video, maybe good enough to bash together a rough outline of a project to keep the idea in your head.
Corel VideoStudio Ultimate review: Value
The problem laying in wait for applications such as Corel VideoStudio 2020 is that there are free applications out there which duplicate the important bits of its functionality - the bits that actually edit video. If you can get these for free with Shotcut or DaVinci Resolve, what are you paying for here? Well, those two apps aren’t nearly as beginner friendly, and the amount of documentation and video help available on the Corel website is considerable.
The Ultimate version should be at the top of the list for anyone looking to invest in VideoStudio. Buying the Pro version, even if it does save you a little money, makes no sense when you look at the number of exclusive and enhanced features available in Ultimate.
Should you buy Corel VideoStudio Ultimate?
Yes, if you want to edit 360-degree video. Also yes if you want to work through the tutorials on the website and learn video editing. If you would rather be taught inside the app, then consider Adobe Premiere Elements instead - the two are available for a similar price, and Premiere is the bigger name in the video editing industry. Anyone who already knows how to edit might want to pass this by, and pick up one of the free alternatives instead.