Roxio VideoWave 7 test and review

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Roxio VideoWave 7

Like a bad penny, VideoWave keeps turning up. But under Roxio's care, this budget video editor might actually have some value. Is this VideoWave in name only?

We thought Roxio had swallowed a poison pill when it announced its purchase of MGI Software. While MGI was one of the first companies to push computer-based video editing into the home market, its budget editor - VideoWave - was by far the worst program we'd seen at any level. The interface was storyboard-driven, with no timeline option, and featured painfully poor audio tools, as well as clumsy, half-baked export options.
Anyone who successfully managed to complete a home movie in VideoWave qualified for a medal for bravery, membership of the Magic Circle and a week in therapy. And, rather than try to improve its existing product in the face of competition from Ulead and Pinnacle, MGI further expanded its range with an even more limiting editor, the wizard-based Cinematic. Why anyone would buy a company putting out software like this was a mystery, but Roxio did and, as a result, VideoWave is still with us.
However, in its latest Roxio-branded incarnation, VideoWave 7 is a very different animal - with an entirely redesigned interface and the kind of practical focus that, at this level, used to be exclusive to Pinnacle's Studio. VideoWave 7 Pro sells off the shelf for £50, and features the main editor, DVD Builder for video disc authoring, and the two wizard-based Cinematic applications, Cinemagic and Story Builder.
There's also Media Manager - a database application designed to organise and catalogue video, audio and photo files. Although £50 isn't a bad price, these applications are also bundled as part of Roxio's disc burning suite, Easy Media Creator 7, which costs only £10 more and includes PhotoSuite, Creator Classic disc burner and packet writing tools.
VideoWave comes with a CD full of media content, much of which is designed specifically for DV and DVD use. There's also a reasonable collection of presentation templates for PhotoSuite (despite it not being part of this bundle), as well as sound clips in MP3 format. Image files are prepared in JPEG format at a resolution of 720 x 540 pixels, and video clips are presented as MPEG files measuring 640 x 480.
While we applaud Roxio for distributing VideoWave in an Amaray-style DVD case instead of all the wasteful packaging associated with big display boxes, this also means that the program's printed documentation is very lightweight. The useful stuff is installed on the system as help files, so users aren't left totally alone, but there's no substitute for a printed manual when learning a new program.
As an editing application, VideoWave has made enormous steps forward. Its new timeline-based interface and advanced audio editing tools are major improvements, but we're still disappointed by the lack of support for audio splitting, and just plain annoyed by the need to create a self-contained DV file to the hard drive before it can be sent out to DV tape. No matter what else VideoWave has going for it, we can't recommend it as a serious alternative to Pinnacle Studio or Ulead VideoStudio until these issues are addressed.
But, whatever shortcomings VideoWave has are more than made up for by DVD Builder. We found this DVD authoring applet to be friendly and intuitive, and also highly adaptable. It doesn't patronise or limit users in the same way that Pinnacle's Expression or Sonic's MyDVD does but, at the same time, it's great for home users who don't need the advanced multi-audio and subtitling tools offered by more expensive, prosumer authoring programs.
Support for 16:9 widescreen footage and elementary MPEG streams would have been nice, but that's the full extent of our grumbles with DVD Builder. The inclusion of stereo AC-3 audio encoding is a huge bonus - and we hope it will set a trend at the entry-level. Even though we fully expect the keen amateur to quickly grow out of VideoWave, DVD Builder alone means it's worth every penny of its £50 ticket - underlining the fact that Roxio's Easy Media Creator 7 suite, complete with VideoWave and DVD Builder, yet selling for just £10 more, is a major bargain.

Peter Wells

Read the full review in August 2004's Computer Video magazine.


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Reviewed in this issue:

Sony Vegas 5.0+DVD
Roxio VideoWave 7
Ulead VideoStudio 8
Panasonic NV-GS200B
Reflecmedia ChromaFlex
Epson Stylus Photo R200
ADS Tech Instant DVD 2.0

In August's news:

Double-Layer burning arrives with a bang

MPEG editing in Premiere Pro

Apple Motion graphics

Edirol editor upgrade

X-oom video tools

High Def Final Cut Pro

TV-style theme music

Liquid Edition freebie

Cut-price ProCoder 2

Free After Effects plug-ins

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