Review: MAGIX Movie Edit Pro MX Plus
|Platforms:||Windows XP, Vista (32/ 64-bit), 7 (32/ 64-bit)|
|Requirements:||4GB free hard drive space, 4GB RAM for HD/ Stereo 3D editing|
Opting for a consumer video editor doesn’t necessarily mean going short on features, especially if you choose MAGIX Movie Edit Pro MX Plus.
The program comes packed with high-end functionality, from the full HD support, to the 99 editing tracks, the multicam and 3D editing options, powerful sound editing tools, and wide range of output options: file, DVD, Blu-ray, YouTube, Facebook and more.
And this latest version has more than 60 new features. Movie templates make it easy to create professional trailers; image interpolation delivers smoother slow motion effects; export presets help ensure you produce the precise video file you need; and a host of performance optimisations deliver major increases in speed, from faster load times, up to 10x faster image stabilisation, or 3x faster AVCHD export thanks to CUDA and OpenCL support.
Sounds impressive – but what would all this mean in practice? We took a closer look.
After a straightforward installation MAGIX Movie Edit Pro MX Plus presents you with a familiar three-pane interface: video clips, transitions and effects top-right; preview window top-left; and your movie timeline displayed across the bottom of the window. Which works for us, although if you prefer another arrangement then panes can be dragged to rearrange them, or you can output your preview to a TV or a second monitor, leaving more space for the timeline and general editing tasks.
The media pool is similarly well designed. You can jump straight to a common media folder (Videos, Pictures, Music), use an Explorer-type view to browse elsewhere, or launch a search tool to locate particular clips, and you’ll see their thumbnails displayed right away.
At least, that’s the idea, although we found the program wouldn’t generate thumbnails for all our .MOV sample files. Explorer and other programs displayed them correctly (even Movie Edit Pro did once we added them to the timeline), though, so we’re not sure what the problem was.
All our other media files were clearly visible, though, no real surprise as the program supports all the main formats (including Stereo 3D videos, audio files and images). MPEG-4, MPEG-2 and Dolby Digital Stereo licences have to be activated manually, but there’s no charge, the small licencing fee last time has gone.
Better still, in one notable addition to this version, you’re no longer restricted to the default tiny thumbnails. A Zoom button immediately above the media pool allows you to choose from 6 thumbnail sizes, anything from 48 pixels wide to a giant 240, which makes it much easier to spot some videos.
And once you’ve chosen a clip, a Jog button allows you to preview it frame by frame, and a quick double-click will add it to the storyboard or timeline. The missing thumbnails were annoying, but if you’re not working with similarly affected source files then you should find the core interface intuitive and easy to use.
Getting started can be as easy as dragging and dropping any clips you need onto the timeline, then right-clicking a clip of choice to perform some action on it.
There’s capable scene detection, for instance. You get configurable image stabilization, which MAGIX claim is up to ten times faster than before; we didn’t test this specifically, but it is quick, just a few seconds for short clips (under a minute). And the versatile audio cleaner includes a DeClipper, DeHisser and excellent DeNoiser, a 10-band equaliser, compressor and stereo tweaker, all of which are both highly configurable and easy to use.
A “Find and remove ads” option tries to remove adverts from recorded TV. Results can be good for 16:9 movies as Movie Edit Pro will detect the presence (and absence) of the black stripes at the top and bottom of the screen, though it’s less reliable with other material.
And if you want to quickly apply some simple effects then you can add a pan or zoom, or maybe insert the movie’s date as a title in the opening few seconds, in just a couple of clicks.
There are some complexities here. The trimmers, in particular, are less than intuitive and it takes a little experimentation to figure out how they work. But for the most part MAGIX Movie Edit Pro MX Plus offers a good set of features which will have you producing your movie right away.
The download version of MAGIX Movie Edit Pro MX Plus only includes a few effects, to keep its file size down. And while there’s plenty of additional content available for free, downloading could take a while. The transitions pack is 135MB, for instance; extra title effects are 44MB; there’s more than 1GB of menu templates in three different files, and the list goes on. A fast internet connection is a major plus here.
With everything downloaded (eventually), we found more than 100 transitions under the oddly-named “Fades” tab. These are categorised a little vaguely – instead of “Slide” or “Spin”, say, you get sections like “Standard”, “Movement” or “Effect fades” – so at first it can take a while to find what you need. But there are plenty of stylish choices (which now include sound), they’re easily applied by dragging and dropping them onto the appropriate transition point, and right-clicking this later allows you tweak details like the transition length.
Clicking the Effects tab reveals plenty of additional options. There are a host of corrections, for instance: brightness, contrast, gamma, colour, sharpness, red-eye and more. Movement effects allow you to size, move, zoom, rotate, mirror and otherwise manipulate the movie. You can add fun effects from rain and snow, to thought bubbles, animated fish and other objects.
Advanced options include an effective chroma key, many picture-in-picture options, collages and more. And the Titles tab is just as packed with options, with over 200 styles on offer (including many 3D effects).
The sheer volume of possibilities is initially overwhelming, and a poor effects viewer doesn’t help. You can’t resize the effect thumbnails to better see what they do, for example, and the thumbnails won’t always rearrange themselves to fill the available space, so there’s some unnecessary scrolling.
The effects themselves are easily applied, though, and once you start work it won’t take long to figure things out. With the titles, say, you just choose a title style to see a preview, double-click to apply something you like, type your text in the editor, and that’s it – you’re ready to go.
Once your movie is finished, then MAGIX Movie Edit Pro MX Plus can export it in many different ways.
You’re able to save it as a 2D video in MP2, MP4 or WMV formats, for instance; as a 3D movie in WMC anaglyph or side-by-side formats; or ready for use on a mobile device (iPod, iPhone, iPad, Android phones or tablets). Format and device support isn’t exactly extensive, but it covers the basics.
The program can also upload your creation to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, or MAGIX own Online Album, ready for sharing with others.
Selecting “Export as media player” saves the movie in a web-ready form, both a video and HTML file linking to a video player, so it’s immediately ready for use on your own website. Though, bizarrely, there’s no progress bar, so after clicking “Save video” the program appears to have locked up until it finally finishes.
And of course there’s the usual ability to author DVD and Blu-ray discs, complete with a selection of animated and HD menus. There aren’t many of these, but they can be customised quite easily, and you can buy more online if you like (a typical price might be $1.99 if the disc is solely for private use).
More new features
MAGIX Movie Edit Pro MX Plus includes many new features, and the claim that it’s “on average 3x faster” (thanks to support for GPU-based acceleration) seemed particularly appealing. It’s true, too – the program is noticeably more responsive in just about everything it does. But of course the competition is also accelerating, and in particular we found CyberLink’s PowerDirector 10 outperformed Movie Edit Pro in most areas, from launch time to rendering.
This new version can still improve your productivity, though, especially with the new Movie Templates. Choose from multiple styles (Action, Adventure, Love Story, Travel etc) and an appropriate storyboard appears, with soundtrack, effects and animations already added. Drag and drop your own clips onto the various placeholders, enter your own credits, and you could have a professional movie trailer ready in minutes.
New frame interpolation support means that you can slow down a clip considerably, but still deliver quality results, as the program will generate intermediate images for you.
And there are many smaller additions dotted around, like the ability to view the EXIF data of images in the media pool, or the option to resize the heights of individual tracks according to your editing needs. Most of these are well-judged and genuinely useful, though, and they all play their part in creating what is a significant step forward for the Movie Edit Pro name.