In this review, we take a look at the new video-editing software – ACDSee Video Studio 4.
Video is something that, as photographers, we seem to be delving into more and more. Whether that be capturing behind the scenes of photoshoots to create marketing material or simply a video of your photo adventures with friends, video is something many of us are either doing or may want to do. However, it’s not always as easy as that.
The main problem with video content isn’t necessarily shooting the video, but the editing process. I am sure some of you have lots of video footage that you always intend to make into a video (as I have), but it never gets made. You start with good intentions, but the editing always seems to be the sticking point. For those who don’t edit very often or are new to video, editing can be hard and so much software lacks user-friendliness.
Video software usually comes with a steep learning curve too. Those that many consider the standard, Premiere and Final Cut, aren’t particularly user-friendly to the novice user. You will end up spending hours of your time watching YouTube videos to simply understand the basics of how to create a simple edit for either of those pieces of software.
ACDSee has set out to change that. With their latest software, Video Studio 4, you get powerful video editing built into a software that is intuitive and simple to use.
Opening it up
When you launch the software, the layout you see may resemble others. However, with ACDSee Video Studio 4, this layout is streamlined, and the most useful stuff is there, ready and waiting.
On the left side, there are 10 different options for you to work with. They are laid out in a way that guides you through the process of editing from start to finish.
Let’s go through them to see how you can use each one.
The left panel
Video Studio 4 accepts a wide variety of formats for audio, video, and images. These are:
- Image formats: JPG, JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG, HEIC
- Audio formats: WMA, MP3, AAC, WAV, AC3, OGG, M4A
- Video formats: AVI, MP4, WMV, FLV, MOV, TS, MTS, M2TS, ASF, M4V, MPG, MPEG
As you can see, the software can handle pretty much any format you want to use. It is great to see such a wide range of options available. It means you don’t need to worry about converting files before editing.
Adding in titles and captions is simple and easy. A wide variety of fonts and placement options means you can create a title for your videos quickly.
If you make videos, sooner or later you will find yourself in a situation where you need to record a voiceover. With ACDSee Video Studio 4, you can record audio directly into the software, thus, keeping everything together. This means you don’t have to move between programs to record extra audio. A really fantastic little tool that you may not think is useful – until you need it.
With 30 different transitions to choose from, you can easily apply transitions between video clips. Tweaking these to your desired length is simply a matter of dragging them onto the timeline. Some are cheesy, some are incredibly cheesy, but you have options. I am a simple “fade” guy, but if you want something different, you will definitely find it here.
Adding fade in and outs to your audio tracks is simple and easy too. You can do it manually, but by using the presets and then tweaking to get the desired effect, you can really save some time. You’ll also get your content created much quicker and easier than ever.
New in this version of ACDSee Video Studio 4 is the ability to use keyframes to make custom animations. This allows you to create bespoke animations for your clips, which is great when using a still image in your video.
There are also some great presets to use as starting points, which you can fine-tune to get your clips just how you want them.
Behaviors are customizable entrance and exit effects. You can use these on a clip to really emphasize the clips’ start and end. Simply tweak each effect to customize it to your taste.
I really didn’t see where I would use this, and it feels a little gimmicky. This is a feature most people will not use too often, but in the right hands, I am sure you can do something cool with it.
ACDSee Video Studio 4 gives you many filter options to tweak the look of your clip. When applied, these filters tweak things like the clips color, and exposure. There are also several creative effects for quick and easy effects for your footage.
There are several options to explore here. Which ones you choose depends on your taste and preference, but there is something to please most people here. You will no doubt find your favorites when you have used the software a few times, and these will become your go-to filters.
You can add multiple filters should you need or want to. They stack on top of each other in the clip, and you can edit them individually.
Overlays are effects that sit on top of your clips. Some of these, such as the animated hearts and bubbles, are an acquired taste and most of you probably won’t touch them (but will no doubt serve a great purpose for the young generation). However, light leaks and film scratches can give a great effect, depending on the look you are going for with your project.
This is where the software gets seriously impressive. Here you will find some features most commonly found in high-end editing software, yet they come with the ease and simplicity of use that makes Video Studio 4 so user-friendly.
Starting with one of the new features in Video Studio 4 is Remove Color. This is most commonly used for green screen work. This allows you to shoot against a green screen (or other color backgrounds) and remove it from the clip. You can then add in a background of your choice. This is great for YouTube videos, where you can buy a cheap green screen (or even use a green sheet) and then add in a background you created in Photoshop or similar. It can give you a host of creative options, is incredibly simple to use, and really powerful.
A new cool feature is Color LUTS. These allow you to add a variety of different color grade options to your footage to enhance their look.
Another new addition allows you to adjust the speed of your footage. You can create time effects such as slow-motion, or speed up the timing of your clip.
The last new addition is Mosaic, which is great to blur out items in clips, such as car number plates. This can then be sized and tweaked to match your clip. Again this is one of those tools that you probably won’t use very often, but when you do need it, you will be glad the software includes this handy tool.
Using ACDSEE Video Studio 4
It’s one thing to list all the features of a software, but it is another thing entirely to put it in practice. With this in mind, I put a few things together in ACDSee Video Studio 4.
The first project involved taking a couple of clips from a photoshoot on my iPhone and making them into a quick clip for Instagram. I also wanted to try out the screen recording software that comes with Video Studio 4 so I used this to make a quick tutorial on creating custom animations in the software.
Lastly, I wanted to test one of the key new features, Remove Color.
Green screen test
As this was one of the new features of the software, I was keen to test it out. However, rather than test this with a perfectly lit green screen, I tested it in a more common situation. At first, I tried against a blue block wall, not expecting it to work at all.
Then I used a green screen I borrowed from a friend. Now, this is by no means a high-end green screen. In fact, one of the stands fell to pieces when we were putting it up and had to be held together with tape! I also didn’t iron the green material (as you can see in the clip). It was a very cheap eBay purchase, but it is the type of setup the most people will use when starting with a green screen, so I wanted to see the results.
I used no specialist lighting in the setup either. Again, with the right type of equipment, this is super easy, both for the editor and the software. But, I wanted to push it a little…
Here are the results:
As you can see, the software worked pretty well on the green screen (just a slight issue with the reflection in my glasses) and surprisingly well on the blue wall, even if it didn’t manage to get it quite perfect. I think that a simple, smooth painted wall, with decent natural light, would work perfectly well for this type of work. Moreover, with an ideal studio lighting setup, it would work great.
The tutorial video
ACDSee Video Studio 4 also comes with software that allows you to record your screen, which I wanted to test to create a simple instructional video. As I am reviewing the software, I decided to make a quick tutorial on creating a logo animation. I simply selected the inbuilt Mic and Webcam and hit the record button.
When you have finished recording your footage, it drops it directly into Video Studio 4 ready to edit. Editing is then simple.
Here is the result:
If you are looking to get into creating tutorial videos for your photography, or tutorials for any software, Video Studio 4 is great.
The Insta edit
What I see as the biggest possible use of this software is for quick, simple edits for Instagram. This software is perfect for that purpose –one of those situations where you just want to put a few clips together and make an edit as quickly as possible.
In this example, I had three phone clips I wanted to use. I also had my logo and background I created in Photoshop. With all I needed ready to go, I jumped into Video Studio 4 for the first time.
It is super simple to use, and within minutes I had a completed video.
The first thing I wanted to do was to create a quick intro using my logo. I saved my logo as a .png file so that I could keep the background transparent so it would work with layers. Then I placed both the background and the logo into the software. To add some animation, I used the custom animation feature in Video Studio 4. By dragging and dropping this onto the logo, I was able to quickly add two 360-degree motions to the logo to add interest.
It was easier than I imagined. Within 20 seconds, I had my animated logo.
Then I added transitions to the start and end of the clip as well as adding an old film overlay. That was it. One minute and I had a finished animated logo. If I wanted to, I could export this clip and use it in all future videos as an intro. That saves even more time when creating clips like this.
Next, I needed to insert my clips. Again, it was simply a matter of drag and dropping them to get them onto the timeline. To trim the clips to the required length, you have two options:
- drag the ends of the clip to where you want them, or
- split the clip where you want the edit and delete the part that you want to trim.
I found this splitting quicker, and this is what I did for the rest of the clip.
With my clips trimmed, I also needed to remove the audio. There are two ways you can do this: Method one is to adjust the sound level of the clip by right-clicking on it and selecting Edit Audio. This is great when you want to adjust the sound levels of a clip. In this case, however, I didn’t need the audio at all, so split the clip into separate audio and video tracks. This way, I was able to delete the audio from the clip quite simply.
I then added transitions between clips. While there are loads to choose from, you will probably find yourself going back to a select few. In my case, I have always tended to use Fade to Black or Cross Fade (called Fade in Video Studio 4).
For the last stage, I easily added a LUT to the footage. There are several LUTs in Video Studio 4, or you can upload them into the software. I decided to use the Tinsel LUT, which adds a color grade to the footage.
When I watched the footage back, I decided I wanted to add some music. I used a track by A Himitsu, the details of which are as follows:
Once I had the music in, I wanted to move my edits a little to match the music. Even though I had LUTs applied and fades in place, this was easy, and there was no lag when dragging clips around. The software felt speedy throughout using it, which was reassuring. With the music added, and clips altered, I just needed to add an audio transition to fade the music out, which I then tweaked until I was happy with it.
All complete, it was time to export my project. You can see the final edit below.
Exporting is quick and easy and helped by Video Studio 4 holding your hand through the process. You can export and save to a file, or you can upload directly to YouTube or Vimeo. Just log in to YouTube and follow the instructions. In terms of time, the software exported quickly, and I didn’t notice a difference in export times compared to using other editing software.
You can also export to an animated gif, which is ideal for things like action sports clips.
As you can probably guess, the theme of simple and easy continues here. Video Studio 4 guides you through things in the beginning while allowing you the ability to be more creative as your confidence grows.
ACDSee has some great training videos for their software on their website. For those of you new to video editing, these are well worth a watch to get you started with Video Studio 4. I am sure that more will be added over time, but they have everything you need to get started. There is also great technical support should you have any other issues.
Below is an example of their training videos with Director of Photography, Alex Watson. Before anyone says it in the comments, I know his delivery is a little better than mine.
Who is this software for?
If you use Premiere or Final Cut, you will have more than likely not even made it this far. It is not as fully featured as these programs and is in no way a replacement, but that is not the purpose of this software.
ACDSee Video Studio 4 is for those who are new to video editing or who just want to create quality content without having to spend large amounts of time learning to use software.
While Video Studio 4 is incredibly user-friendly for the beginner, it also contains many features for those wanting to delve deeper and use more advanced features such as the green screen.
In a nutshell, the aim of Video Studio 4 is to create professional videos quickly and easily for those new to video. It does this impressively well.
It is really competitively priced, and for those who are new to video and use PC, I can’t think of a better alternative.
ACDSee Video Studio 4 is a simple to use, yet surprisingly powerful video editor. It is not a replacement for Premiere, nor is it intended to be. There are some really powerful features in here, but it also contains some stuff that I would personally never use. For example, some of the fades and overlays feel cheesy and overdone. Then again, as a teen starting out with video editing, these will more than likely be fun, and I am sure they will get used in creative ways. Maybe it’s more me being an old stick in the mud for the classics?
If you have been thinking about adding video to what you do, I would recommend you try Video Studio 4. This is simple to do as ACDSee have a free trial, allowing you to try before you buy. When it comes to purchasing, you also have options. You can purchase the software outright, or you can get it as part of the ACDSee 365 plan, which also includes ACDSee’s Photo Studio software for a simple monthly payment.
ACDSee is known for offering alternative software that is feature-packed, simple to use, with a great price tag. With Video Studio 4, ACDSee has definitely cemented that reputation.
ACDSee is a paid partner of dPS.