GCN LAB REVIEWS
Taking agency videos to the expert level
VideoStudio Pro X4 lets modest agencies make high-impact videos
- By Nate Wooley
- May 03, 2011
Communication expectations are changing for government agencies. In a world with everyone voicing their opinions via websites, blogs, video blogs and social media, agencies have an unprecedented need to get their messages out in a way that will be heard.
It’s no longer enough for an agency to occasionally issue a press release. These days, the public expects frequent, even daily, communications from federal offices about their actions. Closer to home, the need for state and local governments to keep their constituents informed is even greater.
Those agencies wanting to connect more often with the public — but without the budget to do so — can now consider VideoStudio Pro X4, a video editor for Microsoft Windows from Corel. It’s a good one, too.
I could see harried government employees using this software to produce professional quality clips, either for video blogging or standard releases and demos, without needing to hire professional video production talent. All it takes is some time and a simple digital video camera to begin producing quality work. Any agency staff member should be able to begin using VideoStudio with a minimum of time and training.
Corel VideoStudio Pro X4
Pros: A great way for smaller shops to produce their own video work.
Cons: A lot of options might slow down learning or intimidate the timid.
Ease of Use: A
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In spite of the name, VideoStudio doesn’t leave audio out of the communications equation. Even the best visual presentation can be weakened when viewers can’t hear or understand the message. VideoStudio has an updated sound package that permits multilayering and manipulation that will end time in the studio and allow for a good off-the-shelf set of sounds and mixes for any agency that wants more than a standard voice-over-image presentation.
The features that come bundled with VideoStudio can be intimidating. Setting aside the basic features for a moment, the package reviewed here comes with access to 28 templates and seven title packages for those who want to experiment. There will be a learning curve for new users, but they are likely to quickly fall for a few favored features that enable good output before venturing into more esoteric features. Nothing here is truly difficult to handle, but the astonishing amount of choices available will take time to learn and handle properly. It took us several days of working with the program to become really proficient, but we were able to master the basic features in a few hours.
And there are features galore. This version of VideoStudio has functions that handle stop-motion and time-lapse video, a countless array of standardized effects and wipes, movie templates for ease of use, the ability to produce 3-D and high-definition video, automated exporting for the Web in addition to many, many other features. That is an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink solution to video production.
VideoStudio also doesn’t leave the user hung up on the back end. Corel engineers have thought this through and appear to know that having a finished video and not being able to expose it to the world is more frustrating that not having one at all. With a solid collection of finishing tools found here, the user can take the video and create DVDs, including inserting chapter breaks and controls, or upload it to the Web with a simple system that requires only a bit of set up. This isn’t a system that leaves you hanging.
In fact, it’s possible that VideoStudio is more than a normal office might need. The sheer amount of options will present one particular problem for groups that want to maintain a coherent style across subagencies. Without specific guidelines from the central communications office, I could see it being hard for a department or agency to make sure that all offices are on the same page.
It terms of price, VideoStudio Pro X4 isn’t a budget-buster. It lists at $99.99, is on the General Services Administration schedule, and has discounts available for government license purchasers. Considering that the gear I used in college for video production cost over $100,000 and did a lot less, the price is very reasonable. Sure, every piece of technology gets cheaper over time, but this is a real find. A federal department could easily outfit all its agencies with VideoStudio Pro X4 and cameras to boot for very little and begin a professional video program right away. Or VideoStudio could be used to create a training program on almost any topic, without the need to hire a firm to come in and do the same thing for a lot of money.
All in all, VideoStudio Pro X4 is a consumer product that can be used very well in government. It is easy to use, so agencies won’t need to hire staff members to handle production. And it offers a multitude of options so every department that purchases it can create their own brand and appearance with it. This is high-quality software that will make government employees' lives easier. It earns a Reviewer’s Choice designation for being a solid product that fills a useful niche at any agency.