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Straight to video

A new digital video software package makes creating movies easy.

Jack Kenny reports

If you are a PC user looking for a way into digital video (DV), there are two good reasons to consider ULEAD VideoStudio 7.0 software.

Most DV programs work the same way. Your PC or laptop must have a firewire connector and you will need the appropriate lead to link computer to camera. If you're not sure whether you have a firewire slot, ask an expert.

Once you have all that, you connect the DV camera to the computer, load the software and find the command to download the video from the camera to your computer. As it downloads, the video is broken up into manageable clips.

Editing the downloaded clips and taking out the bits you don't want is easy, and joining the edited clips together to make sense of them is fun and stimulating. You can do the same with sound. Your completed work can be stored on DVD or on CD depending on the length - the program will help you to do that.

In the package there are two CDs - with program, examples of completed videos and a tutorial. The package also includes a printed manual. Filters to enrich the quality of the finished DV are also included. These will be very useful if you want to create some abstract video. There are lots of transitions, although the value of some of these is doubtful. A welcome feature is the wide range of formats it can work with: nine video formats, 25 image formats and 11 audio formats are covered.

So what are the two good reasons? As far as schools are concerned, the advantage is that ULEAD supplies two manuals: the "student guide" and the "teacher guide". Although these manuals are produced in Australia, they are just what you need. The student guide is structured so that it will answer most technical questions, while the teacher guide has many stimulating ideas for using DV in the curriculum. Both are worth the price of admission.

Of the two, the teacher guide is the most useful. It does deal with some technical questions but most of the booklet is taken up with project briefs. These are outlines of the ways that the hardware and software can be used in the classroom. There is also additional resource material on a CD.

The ULEAD website also has resources: tools, templates, project ideas and training VideoStudio 7.0 - Digital video editing software and materials on two CD-Roms for PC. Includes teacher and student handbooks.Price: pound;39.99 Jack Kenny is an ICT consultant and a former head of English

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