Recommended (with caveats)
Once you actually have a video (a movie you shot or otherwise acquired), you may want to edit it. You know, drop off the first few frames that show “Tracking…” or end it right after the action ends, not 20 minutes later when the “videographer” remembers to hit “Stop.” That’s where Roxio Creator 2011 with 3D comes in.
Having learned from John’s fails, my installation on the Windows 7 laptop was simple and easy, leaving an icon on my desktop. Double-clicking the icon launched the program. The first screen (below) is a menu from which you decide which function you want to use.
One of the choices from the left-side menu is Learning Center (also shown there on the right side). I headed there first. I’m not a videographer and have only worked at the most basic level with a video program (Camtasia) so I knew I’d need help.
The first screen that opens has multiple choices down the left side. Each changes the larger right pane to display the options for that choice. At the bottom was Learning Center. Feeling quite the novice I clicked there, then clicked the Video–Movies button on left, then clicked the Video–Movies tab.
The Roxio website highly touts the videos and accompanying PDFs available from the Learning Center. Unfortunately, they weren’t very useful for me. I wanted the basics – I certainly didn’t want to begin with 3D. Besides, I can create all the 3D I want but without a 3D player, what’s the point?
Of the 17 available videos, the most prominently displayed were those dealing with 3D (see comment above). Almost every video has an accompanying PDF. Scrolling down, I finally encountered Editing a Movie with VideoWave – the next-to-last video. This gave me a quick overview of the quickest way to create a movie with some editing and adding sound.
I’m not saying it wasn’t useful. Without it I’d never have known to double-click on a video to launch the Video Trimmer to lop off parts from the clip’s start or end. The companion PDF wasn’t any more instructive. Opening the PDF, however, launched it in Internet Explorer. No “Mother, may I,” no attempt to open Acrobat, Acrobat Reader or Firefox, which is my browser of choice. I really didn’t care for that.
I began by clicking the Video–Movies button on the left, then under Edit–Transfer I chose Edit Video–Advanced. This launched the Roxio Videowave video editor and its Welcome screen opened. Choosing “New Production” there and clicking OK gave me an entirely new window to marvel at. And very little to go on.
When Creator (see below) opened I could at least identify the various areas on the screen like the Timeline, a Preview pane and the menu bar, but that was about it. Following the basic steps from the video, I imported several of the clips John had saved. But the Roxio video didn’t give me enough information.
For instance, the text was added as an overlay directly on the first video clip. I wanted to place my opening text on a solid color or still photo, then transition into the first clip. I then wanted that clip to transition to a different color or image with a new title for the second clip, then show the second clip and so forth.
It took a lot of exploring through different menus (particularly the Production menu, shown at right), and a lot more time than I’d wanted to spend, but in the end I achieved pretty much what I wanted as a final product. But when it came down to it, what would really have helped me was a step-by-step guide. I’d have been much happier with something just pointing out different elements on the screen and what they led to or did.
There are lots of options. For instance, there must be 30 transitions for use when moving from one video clip to another, but not one is a simple Fade. I finally settled on “Clouds” as the least intrusive. You can set each Fade individually or all at once, including timing.
As a trial I set up my little video-cam pointed at my hummingbird feeder and let it run. Once done, I wanted to Split it into several smaller clips, dumping the empty video between visits.
Well, it can be done, but only in Timeline view. Nothing tells you that, it just isn’t available from the menu unless that’s where you are. Then when you try to split the clip, you’re told you can’t because one or the other end won’t be large enough. So just how large is enough?
Then I thought it’d be nice to zoom in on the birds. Six feet is quite a distance when you’re looking at something about 3-4” long. I did locate Pan and Zoom and finally figured out how to set it up, but then it insisted on zooming back out. I couldn’t get it to stick to the end of the clip. I’m sure it’s easy to fix but I couldn’t figure out how. It’s exactly this sort of minor detail that takes up so much time without instructions. I finally just gave up.
The program really isn’t that hard. In a way, it’s sort of like PowerPoint or Photoshop Elements for videos. It’s probably pretty simple and straight-forward for someone with some video experience. For me, a little more guidance would have saved me a number of hours over several days, not to mention lowering my frustration level. And I might even have gotten exactly what I wanted instead of “settling” for what I could figure out.
There are neither books nor e-books available on these programs. The only videos I found were the same limited ones available on their website or from the Learning Center after installation. So if you decide to give the Roxio world a whirl, pack your lunch and your thinking cap – and take lots of time.
As I said at the start of this review, I recommend it – with caveats. The main one being you’re pretty much on your own figuring out how to use this program. I can see it could be very rewarding for those with the patience (and maybe a little more background?) to work with it. I’ll probably continue with it myself until the aggravation factor gets to be too much for me.
Roxio Creator 2011