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Review: Nero Video Premium HD

22 October 2010, Mike Williams

With digital cameras continuing to improve in quality, just as they fall in price, it’s never been easier to shoot High Definition movies – even on your mobile phone.

To get the most out of your movies you’ll need software that’s up to the HD challenge, though. And that’s where Nero Video Premium HD comes in.

The suite includes two components.

Nero MediaHub handles your media management needs, providing simple ways to view, sort and search your videos, digital photos, music files and Blu-ray discs. And its beginner-friendly slideshow maker allows you to create professional movies and slideshows in a click.

Meanwhile Nero Vision’s multi-track editor, quality video effects and Blu-ray authoring capabilities ensure it’s up to the challenge of more complex editing and creative projects.

If this sounds like a familiar mix, it may be because the core apps have been bundled together before, as a part of Nero Vision Xtra. Nero Video Premium HD sees them extended and enhanced, though, with many new features. If you need a consumer HD editing package with a little something extra then it’s worth taking a look at them again.

Nero MediaHub

MediaHub wants to manage all your media files, which can often be a difficult task. The interface helps out immediately, though, by providing a left-hand pane that provides quick access to many areas of your system.

So for instance your music, photos and videos are divided into separate libraries, and a single click will have you viewing any of these in the program’s thumbnail browser.

You’re then able to play or view them, get song information via the Gracenote Media Database, or edit a file’s existing tags.

There’s a simple photo editor, that can crop images or remove red-eye. There are one-click fixes to tweak exposure and colour; manual sliders for adjusting brightness, lighting, colour temperature, even image straightness; and simple effects to blur or sharpen an image, apply a sepia tint, and so on.

And it’s just as easy to select multiple files, then create playlists or burn your selection to disc. There are no complicated burning options, no settings to consider: just choose the files, click the Burn button, select your optical drive and click Burn again. It’s all very straightforward.

If the default library – your public and personal Videos, Music and Pictures folders – isn’t enough then you can tell MediaHub to watch whatever other folders are appropriate to your system.

And, usefully, this version of the program can now show and let you work with iTunes and Windows Media Player library content, giving a unified view across all your digital media.

Nero Video Premium HD also includes Blu-ray playback support, so now inserting either a DVD or Blu-ray disc will add a new icon under the Optical Discs, and you can be watching your movie in a couple of clicks.

And if you’re looking to share your media, then the Slide Shows feature makes it very easy indeed.

All you need to do is select multiple photos or videos, and click the Create Slide Show button. You can then apply a custom “theme” to your slideshow – Holidays, Kids and Families, Romantic, Seasonal and more – which defines the slideshow background, music and more. And immediately the program will produce a very professional slideshow, with for example pan-and-zoom effects on your photos; our first effort looked more like a segment from a TV show than something we’d thrown together in 30 seconds.

You can customise your work a little more if you like, though, perhaps adding opening and closing titles, tweaking background music or slide duration, or setting the number of seconds each slide will be displayed. Or, if you need more power, one click will open the project in Nero Vision for more in-depth editing.

And when you’ve finished, you’re able to burn the project to CD or Blu-ray, or upload it directly to YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, or Nero’s own My Nero community.

There are some limitations here. You can’t tag images, for instance, or look at their metadata, which is a shame. And more advanced options like face tagging are a distant dream.

Still, for general purposes MediaHub really is an excellent media organiser, packed with useful features. But of course if you’re buying Nero Video Premium HD for its editing capabilities, then you’ll want much more than the simple Slide Shows applet can offer, and for that you’ll need to turn to the suite’s second component.

Nero Vision

If you’ve any experience with Windows video editing software then the Nero Vision interface will immediately seem quite familiar.

There’s a My Media section top-right, for instance, that holds the videos, pictures, audio and other files that you’d like to use. You can drag and drop files here, or use the Import option to read data from (non-copy-protected) DVDs or Blu-ray discs, AVCHD files, any video or audio capture device on your PC, even PowerPoint files (useful, though importing them is glacially slow).

To the left of the My Media palette is a preview window where you can view your selected files, and at the bottom of the screen is a timeline and storyboard: you’ll drag and drop your files here to build up the finished movie.

Below your Media files is the Effect Palette, which provides quick access and basic previews of the video, text and transition effects on offer here.

There’s a decent selection, too, with filters to fix brightness, colour and lighting problems; a few sharpens and blurs; some panes and zooms; quality chroma key and image matter effects; various “Art Effect” options like Old Film, Posterize and Sketch; and more.

Considerably more, actually, not least because Nero Video Premium HD includes Nero’s “Video TransitionPack 1”, which adds 60 generally interesting and worthwhile transition effects to the host of dissolves, slides, zooms, wipes and other transition options already on offer.

Fortunately the program now also has a Favourites section for your Effects, Text and Transition palettes, so despite these extras it is, if anything, even easier to find your way around. A right-click on any effect will add it to the relevant Favourites list, and you can then jump straight to your most commonly-used options in a click or two. Drag and drop them onto a particular clip and they’ll be applied right away.

There’s also a new Picture-in-Picture (PiP) generator, which greatly simplifies the process of creating PiP effects by allowing you to choose the option you need from a categorised list.

So for instance you can choose from PiP effects that take place over an existing video track, or a static background. And you get to decide whether you want one, two, three or four PiP overlays, and how they appear and disappear.

Double-click your PiP selection, then, and placeholders for the clips appear on your timeline. Drag and drop the videos you’d like to appear in each PiP overlay onto the placeholders, and, well, that’s it – click Play and watch your creation in action. It’s generally very straightforward and produced excellent results in our tests.

Nero Vision is just about easy enough for editing beginners to handle, then. The interface can be a little intimidating, but once you’ve learned the basics then drag and drop and tweaking a few properties will generally get you where you want to go.

Meanwhile advanced users will appreciate some of the more creative filters on offer, like the chroma key and alpha adjust options. And there’s complete key frame control: you can step between existing key frames, create new ones, even choose the most appropriate interpolation method (the default Linear, Bezier, or Hold for a sudden change with no transition).

And whatever your experience, once you’ve finished you can save the finished video as a file, upload it online (YouTube, MySpace or My Nero), or make a CD, DVD, AVCHD or Blu-ray disc with the movie.

The latter options are particularly interesting, and in fact you can use them without touching the editor at all. Just import the files you need, choose your disc menu templates (there are static 2D, and animated 2D and 3D options on offer), customise them to suit your needs, then burn your disc with a click.

CUDA support ensures that any necessary transcoding happens at high speed, and the high quality end results make this a great way to archive your favourite movies for yourself, or create something special to share with friends and family.

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