- Comprehensive feature set
- multiple track editing
- A/B editing
- customisable GUI
- video stabiliser
- modular design.
- Overly complex interface
- some basic functions are too complex
- very slow MPEG encoding.
AIST is a German company with a considerable amount of experience in creating digital video software, although it has yet to make a huge impression on the UK market. Its most recent non-linear editor (NLE) is part of the MovieX family and shares the modular design of its siblings, MovieX One, MovieDV Suite, MoviePack VE and MoviePack V6. This allows you to buy the application that most suits your needs and budget, but lets you add plug-ins and modules at a later date should your needs change. It's little like Adobe's Premiere, but starts at a lower entry point and lacks the excessive price tag.
If you want something simple, MovieDV 4.0 is not the NLE you’re looking for. Part of this is due to the inherent complexity of advanced digital video editing, but the unnecessarily confusing front end does little to help matters. Generally speaking we consider customisable and rescalable layouts to be good thing, and the MovieDV GUI is both of these -- but taken to such an extreme that your biggest challenge will be arranging the numerous floating, docked, minimised or locked panes to suit. Choosing one of the less colourful colour schemes helps.
However, once you’ve got used to the interface and found where the primary tools are located, it soon becomes clear that MovieDV has a lot going for it. Like most NLEs these days, it offers both timeline and storyboard editing, although the timeline also provides A/B editing and multiple tracks, placing it ahead of most of its competition. It’s also the only NLE we know of that has a ‘negative’ timeline that lets you place material like counting leaders or test patterns in front of the zero point on the timeline without having to push clips forward. Real time preview of applied effects and transitions is provided with the resizable preview pane, and all of the effects, filters and transitions can be customised with the use of keyframes -- another advanced feature not often found on software of this price. Colour/contrast correction and video transparency are provided, and you also get some useful tools like rate control (for playback speed adjustment), CD audio ripping and an image stabilisation tool for steadying out any wobbly footage -- although this does reduce the overall image quality when used.
Capture is also well catered for, with scene detection and batch capture. The latter isn’t a single pass system, but this helps reduce hard disk usage if you only want to capture certain parts of the tape. This version only captures in DV AVI format. DVD/VCD authoring is provided, but not by the MovieDV application. Instead, you’re given the rather basic Sonic MyDVD for this task, which means that you need to transcode your DV AVI files to MPEG2 first -- a painfully slow process with MovieDV 4.0.
Overall, we’d like to recommend this product, as it reaches towards the capabilities of professional NLEs like Pinnacle Edition and Premiere for a fraction of the cost. But it’s just too badly designed. That said, it is extremely powerful for the price, so you might feel it’s worth the effort involved in learning how to use it.