Features: Test of Ulead VideoStudio 8 for creating a Photo Slideshow
Ulead has always lead in graphics innovations. The Ulead PhotoImpact
program has seen many of its design innovations paid the highest compliment
by competitors - for example both Adobe Photoshop and Jasc Paintshop Pro
have taken to showing their filters in a matrix of 40x40 pixel icons that
give users a hint as to what each effect will do. Likewise Ulead Video Studio
has such innovations as an Overlay track dedicated to video in/on video
effects. Or there is the ability to apply video effects to still images while
my personal favorite is the ability to view and test any clip: still image,
video, audio, title, voiceover in the Preview Monitor as an isolated clip.
This allows testing a clip to make sure its working properly alone before
being combined in the Timeline with several other clips. Very handy.
So I fully expected Ulead VideoStudio 8.0 to do well in our tests of creating
a Picture Slideshow with transitions between all the slides and a couple
of audio tracks. This is adjacent to Ulead VideoStudio 8 (henceforth UV8)
real strengths in creating movies for CD and DVD, but it also gives a good
test of the tool and it features.
Workarea and Loading
UV8'8 workarea has two unique characteristics - first, it is always full
screen and cannot be resized. Second, the UV8 workarea has logical but
not physical sub windows or working panes unlike in Adobe Premiere Elements
where each of the Timeline, Preview Monitor, Media Windows and other dialogs
are each movable and resizable. The advantage for UV8's fixed layout is
that one quickly learns where to find things; the disadvantage is that
at fixed full screen UV8 can sometimes hog valuable screen real estate.
But the layout of the UV8 workarea follow a pattern we are beginning to
see in many multimedia tools. A Workflow Tasklist of immediate
command buttons across the top left of the screen - and at the extreme
right and top the traditional File, Edit, ... Help menus with
the complete set of commands for the program. The next group of are respectively:
Properties Pane -
which shows the properties of the current clip or object being used/edited
Preview Monitor - which previews either the current clip or the Project Timeline
Assets Pane - displays icon views of such assets as audio, images, effects,
And lying on the bottom of the screen is the Timeline Pane. It can be toggled
between two views - the Storyboard view shown above and the Timeline tracks view
shown below after loading in photo images into UV8.
Loading photo images into UV8 is fairly simple. First create a slides directory
for the new presentation and copy all the images and audio clips that will
be used into that directory. Next using File | New Project create
a new empty project. Save it to the new slides directory. ( a quick word
here - to my surprise, none of the three programs determines what is to be
created in the new project- a slideshow, screen capture video, or video to
file or to CD/DVD. This is very strange because that is valuable info for
setting default properties and behavior like the difference between a Java
applet, servlet, Bean, or application.)
Next go to the Asset Pane's pulldown
and choose the images option from the list. Then right click anywhere below
the pulldown or click on the folder icon to the immediate right of the Assets
pulldown. Up pops an open file dialog pointing to the slides directory
where you saved the project file. Select the photo images you want to import
using SHIFT+Click for a range of images files or CTRL+Click for adding individual
files to the list. When done click the Open button and UV8 loads the images
into the Assets Pane creating a thumbnail icon for each image.
To load the photos into your slideshow is trivial. Click on the Storyboard
view in the Timeline. then just drag and drop the images from the
Assets Pane to the Storyboard. Want to put an image in front of an existing
one - just drag the new image so it is before the existing one and release
the mouse button. Voila the new image is inserted in front of the existing
Users can also CTRL+click on the slides in the Assets Pane and the drag
all the selected images in one operation to the Timeline. To change the order
of the images already in the timeline just drag and drop either forward
or back and then release the mouse when you have arrived at the gap in front
of which the slide show go. In short, plop there. Finally by right clicking
on a slide in the Storyboard view users can change its duration in the show
from 1 to 5 seconds in increments of 1 second. If users need longer or more
precise durations, switch to the Timeline's Track view and then drag a slide's
start or end handle as required for precise duration settings.
To add transitions between the slides is just as easy. Click on the Assets
pulldown and choose the Transitions type you want - this demo uses the 3D
transitions. Ulead has well over 100 transitions so there is certainly one
to fit your requirements. In fact users have to be careful that the transitions
don't overwhelm the show. So stick to ne major transition alternating with
One of the nice features of UV8 is the fact that Video
Filters can be applied
to slides. Camtasia has one, zoom and pan, while Premiere Elements has dozens
but they only apply to clips. UV8 also has dozens of Video filters (see screen
shot at left above)and since they are user customizable, they can be adapted
to work with still images.
Again applying the basic Video Filter is simple. Just choose the Video Filter
option from the Assets pulldown (see the Screenshot at left above) and as
usual, drag and drop that Video filter onto the slide to be changed/effected. In
the Properties Windows (see screenshot above at right), users can choose
from a number of preset options or customize their own for the specific effect
they want. We found the Ripple and Old Film filters very useful and customizable.
Audio and Title Slides
is starting to be a drill with each new media we use in the presentation.
Go to the Asset Pane pulldown select Audio - if the audio tracks you need
are not there, just click on the folder icon and go get them(you may want
to first copy the audio files to the slideshows project directory to have
all the assets in one central place). Now drag and drop the audio clip(s)
to the timeline.
As usual you can trim the audio clip by dragging on the Start or End handles.
Users can also reposition the audio clip by dragging the center of the clip
to the left or right as required.
There are are series of clip wide audio adjustments that can be made from
the Music & Voice property pane(see screen at left). Duration allows trimming
the audio clip from the end. The Volume setting just below allows setting
the overall audio clips volume level. The Fade-in and fadeout allow buttons
allow the same effects. However, not they only apply to the complete clip
- so you may have trimmed away the fade-in and fade out effects.
Next there is a set of five Audio Filters that can be applied to the clip
as a whole and supply some interesting composite effects. Finally by pressing
the Audio Track button it is possible to edit the volume profile for any
audio clip. Just go to the midline of a clip and drag it up for increased
volume or down for decrease. move further along the midline and drag another
point u or down to make the desired sound effect(fade in, fade out, swing
or whatever). In sum adding sophisticated audio tracks to your slideshows
is fairly easy to do in UV8.
So you would expect adding a title slide would be easy as well. Right on:
click on the Storyboard view in the Timeline;
make the first slide
visible by dragging the Timeline slider all the way to the left;
3) Select Color in the Assets Pane pulldown;
4) from the 12 color slides that appear; choose one, drag it and drop it in
front of the first slide;
5) to this new color slide add a title by clicking on the Title button in
6) double click as the Title suggests and type in your title.
Done, simple, and you can even add an animation effect if you want. Or more
titles and credits at the end of the slideshow. As always color and title
slide can be lengthened or shortened by selecting them and then dragging
on their Start or End handles.
Producing the Slideshow
Since most photo slideshows are stored on and rendered from a laptops hard
disk or a CD, the options for producing a slideshow are fairly simple. We
tried both outputs with a small slideshow of 30 images and a large one of
170 images. In the case of the large slideshow we chose the Best Quality
Windows Metafile format (720 x 480) 30frame per second with Windows compression.
The file took 42 minutes to write on a 2.8GHz Celeron with 700MB of RAM and
ended up 33MB in size with high quality output. However, some slides which
were inherently large to start with inevitably lost resolution in the downsizing
to to the 720 x 480 format. The small slideshow was just about linear in time
to write (8 minutes) but for some reason was more than proportionately larger
- 8MBs despite using identically the same settings and the same computer.
Again the slideshow images were of fairly high quality but again not the
Finally we rendered the small slideshow onto a a CD using VCD format and
writing the Ulead player program as well. That took only five minutes to
run and the quality of the images were still good but not as good as the
.wmv files. For some reason some of the images on CD degraded in quality
more than others. It may have to do with the fact that the original images
were not all of the same aspect ratio and original size.
In sum, I was very pleased with the output of UV8 - Ulead VideoStudio 8
in creating slideshows. Ulead could provide a little more documentation on
how to produce the best results for different media output; the Help file
is terse and pragmatic - we await seeing the full documentation. However,
the results did past muster at a local camera club; a pretty fussy audience.
However, the bottom line is that UV8 is rich and impressive for creating
photo slideshows; this is another example of the versatility of the new multimedia
UV8 for App Screen Demos