Magix Movie Edit Pro 2013/ Video Pro X5

Posted on 15 December 2012

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After testing Grassvalley Edius and Sony Vegas it was time to test Magix Movie Edit Pro Plus Premium Extra MKII Unlimited Professional Enhanced Elite Ultimate. It is cheap, it sounds cheap, but is it bad?

So I started testing the trial of the $ 100 Magix Movie Edit Pro 2013 Plus. After that I wanted to try to compare with the $ 130 Premium version. Unfortunately you can’t install the premium version after the pro trial has expired. So I installed the $400 Video Pro X5 trial after I’ve tested Movie Edit Pro.  This is the exact same software but with a few extra options.

Everything below is about both Movie Edit Pro and Video Pro X. After the conclusion there is a chapter with a comparison and a chapter about smooth playback. Have fun reading.

Installation

Even when I choose custom install it installs speedburner, photo editor, photo designer and print studio. I really didn’t ask for that! I don’t like it if installers fill your system with all kinds of  stuff I didn’t ask for. Another thing that I don’t like is that it is counting the testperiod from first installation date.  I have uninstalled it for 10 days but it kept counting my testperiod, even though it has been completely uninstalled. This means it is leaving traces on my system, even when the trial period hasn’t ended yet!

MVC Decoder

When I import the first MVC videoclip (file->record) or click a MVC file in their browser it prompts me to buy a $ 5 MVC decoder. After doing this it will open and playback the MTS files in 3D just fine. But after two or three activations (I first tested win xp, then win 7 on parallels en then win7/32bit on bootcamp) I got this message:

No more activations possible
You have already used your maximum number of activations; another activation is
presently not possible. Please contact technical support if you have any
questions: http://support.magix.net

I explained and got my new activation code. But I think it is strange that I need to wait for Magix’ Sales department every time I use a new computer, to activate software I’ve actually paid for!

Features

This software is impressive, for a $100 package. There are great S3D features (S3D line-by-line or anaglyph preview), import (it recognizes the AVCHD folder structure by selecting ‘DVD view’) of and  (batch!) export to a lot of different formats, nice audio-cleaning plugins and great (auto) color-correction options.

encased rechter beeld eerst

The shortcuts are well chosen, for example JKL and I+O, plus:

6 = select one clip in timeline 7 = select all next clips
alt+Q / alt+W = prev & next cut
ctrl+Q / ctrl+W = prev/next item
ctrl+ arrow up/down = zoom in/out
ctrl+F fit all in timeline
(alt/ctrl)+comma =switch between S3D preview modes.

One downside is that preview rendering is set to default on 1/4 size, no S3d and Progressive. This has given me some problems with viewings in the past (edited in 2D, then viewing with client in S3D went wrong because of render files). You have to be aware. Don’t render previews!

A nice thing is that it shows which clips are used in your edit with a red marker. This way it’s really easy to make a first selection and then delete the unused clips from the harddrive. The selection on the timeline can then be saved to the takes folder so you can keep your in/out points.

S3D corrections

This works great, you can open this menu once and then go through the whole edit just by pressing ctrl+W. It supports keyframing. Only (big!) downside is that there is no autozoom option.

S3D correction menu

Extra plugins

You can download a free extra plugin set, under GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE. This one shows up under Plugin Manager -> VirtualDub Filter-Plugins (.vdf files).

AVCHD metadata

This software has a great way of viewing the AVCHD metadata:

avchd_metagegevens

Export

There are quite a few batch-export options, like wmv, mp4 or even quicktime mov:

 

The quicktime export only includes the sorenson or mpeg4 codecs. Maybe installing the free CineForm codec might lead to a cineform option there too, to get to os X.

It’s possible to export 2D (without 3D corrections) or L eye first and then right eye. Selecting mpeg4 leads to the option to select the h.264 codec and choose between progressive, interlaced fields an interlaced frames. For this compression Magix uses the MainConcept encoder. Without CUDA it takes ages: a 2pass h.264 takes 45 minutes to export 20 seconds of video. On my laptop with Intel HD4000 graphic selecting Intel QSV (using the i5 processor) brings it down to only (!?) 10 minutes. This is because my VirtualDub filter, without it it’s faster: only 1.30 minute.  It’s fiddly, because changing small things will make the encoder settings reset before you know it.

WMV encoding only shows progressive as an option, this might be because it sees the original as progressive?

I found that exporting AVI and selecting IYUV is one of the best ways to get a good master out. IYUV is a 4:2:0 lossless format.

S3D export

The S3D export options are a bit limited. You can’t do line-interleaved export. But you can do SbS or TB export, both full- and half frame. Unfortunately it doesn’t import TB files.

I’ve tried exporting S3D full-frame top-bottom movies in both mp4 and mpg format. The manual states: Note: When exporting into the one-over-the-other-formats, make sure that the vertical resolution is the sum of both images, but that the aspect ration (e. g. 16:9) relates to the partial image!  Unfortunately it didn’t give the 3840×1080 video’s I expected, but just 1920×1080 with letterboxing on the side. When I set the resolution to 3840×1080 manually everything is fine. Later I found that this depends on the type of encoding you use: 2pass software encoding needs it to be set to 1920×1080 16:9 for a 3840×1080 resolution, but for hardware encoding it needs to be set to 3840x1080px (8:9). Again: it’s fiddly, because changing small things will make the encoder settings reset before you know it. My Philips TV didn’t recognize any of this automatically as S3D video.

I’ve also tried exporting shaky S3D movies in both mp4 and mpg TFF format. It is shaky but only 8 shakes per second: it shows 3 frames left, then 3 frames right eye, then 3x left again and so on. That’s not what I was hoping for as a way to get S3D on my TV.

You can also select anaglyph output, but this is always Dubois optimised and there is no way to turn that off.

To end with: you can also burn MVC Bluray disks!

Crash

One time this program didn’t want to start. Google told me that I am not the only one. I guessed it had something to do with the screen layout, deleted the magix folder from C:\Users\~user\AppData\Roaming and things were back on track.

Conclusion

This is a great program to make a first edit fast and deleting unused source clips. But if I compare it to the $ 100 Sony Movie Studio  it’s a difficult choice. This software works easier (you don’t have to dig for the S3D options), it has a lot of good (automatic) color and audio-features and it adds batch-export options. Also there is a nice way to view the AVCHD metadata. Together with the Sony package it’s the cheapest way to make MVC blu-ray disks.

But it lacks a lot of the good video-effects that Sony has. Installing the Virtual Dub plugins is only a partial solution, as there is no way to sort or automate them like the native Magix plugins.

Other real cons of this package:

  • It does not save in/out point of the source clips and you can’t make subclips like in Sony movie studio. The roundtrip is to set in/out, drag them to the timeline and then drag&drop them to the takes directory. Now they get saved as takes you can use later on. Unfortunately I have not found a shortkey to edit them to the timeline or as takes.
  • There is no autozoom option for S3D convergence corrections. This is really annoying!
  • There is a batch export function for clips but not for the edits. There is no way to queue the export of a few edits overnight.
  • Bigger projects are pretty slow on saving and opening.

The biggest problem is that there is no real smooth playback of the edits on an i5 computer. At 960×540 pixels it is kind of to select source material, but it really is too choppy for editing. It is possible to render a preview but S3D preview rendering is always side-by-side so still not full resolution. I found MJPEG rendering is faster then the MAGIX format, added advantage is that you can playback the preview files from the PerfBounce folder in any player. But I really don’t want to have render an edit without real effects applied.

Using it on a Win7/64 system with enough memory real-time playback  at 1/4th resolution of 960*540 pixels is good enough for me.

Comparison with Video Pro X

  • Same interface. But now you can also open a source monitor next to the program monitor
  • You can open your deluxe files
  • You can export your edit as EDL file.
  • Effects before/after comparison in program/source monitor
  • Still no smooth playback

There also are a few extra nice things like a “View partially interlaced” preview option for edit preview Polarizer TV’s. They also added an export preview screen with a nice ‘turn computer off after encoding’ feature.

Neat video

I didn’t get Neat Video to work with Magix Movie Edit but it does work on Video Pro X5, so if you need to clean up your material the extra $  300 for Video Pro X might be worth it. On the other hand, you might be better off with VirtualDub:

Using neatvideo on a few clips i get “a memory allocation request failed. Maybe there is no memory available or an internal error has occured” on both preview render and export of a 30 seconds clip. Then it says: “The following error occurred while processing the video plug-in NeatVideo.vdf: Not enough memory. Please restart the program.” On another clip it did work but not on a iYUV .avi file at SD resolution. Same clip as HD mp4 did have neat working well. This is strange.

Conclusion

Video Pro X5 looks and feel just a bit better then Magix Movie Edit. There still are no real pro tools like a videoscope and such. It has the same great options as Magix Movie Edit and adds only a few minor extra’s, so you should only buy it when you really need one of those options like neat video support or partial interlaced preview. Playback of MVC .mts files on my computer isn’t smooth, so it’s not the solution for me.

Smooth playback

Below is a report of my quest for smooth playback of MVC AVCHD material:

Playback on MBP win7/32bit

Before anything else, I think it is important to have smooth playback from the timeline. This has been hard for both Edius and Vegas, so how will Magix cope? Not well either. It is fine for a source video, but as soon as you edit more videos to the timeline and/or add effects or transitions it gets choppy.

On their website, Magix recommend 4 GB of RAM and a dedicated graphics card with 512 MB VRAM or more. “For accelerated AVCHD output: NVIDIA® GeForce® 8000 Series and better (CUDA™) or AMD® Radeon™ 5000 Series and better (OpenCL™) or integrated graphics with Intel® Quick Sync Video”. 

I’ve tried everything:

  • update the Nvidia driver for the GeForce GT 330 M. The bootcamp drivers are REALLY old: i’ve updated from about v.190 to around v.360 or something. The continuous graphic card driver crashes have dissapeared. And also my SDcard reader doesn’t make my computer brick anymore. From now on, I officially don’t like bootcamp drivers anymore!
  • Set the graphisc card 3D Settings to performance instead of quality
  • Tried playback from a fast external FW800 drive, didn’t help.
  • Tried Display Options -> Video Mode settings set to both ‘VideoForWindows’ mode and ‘Direct3D, hardware acceleration mode with both DirectX11 and DirectX9’. Checked if DirectX11 is installed and yes it is.
  • Tried with external and internal display.

The following does help a lot to get it smoother, but still sometims it’s not 100% smooth:

  • Video/Audio -> Movie Display set to half.
  • Video/Audio -> render effects on GPU set to OFF.

Frametables

One thing that did help was to create frametables for the clips by right clicking on the clips in the arranger. Creating the frametable took forever but after it was finished, playback was smoother. You can also set it in preferences to create the frametables while importing. However, it didn’t solve all of the playback problems, but it does make it more predictable.

CPU and memory

The stupid thing is that taskmanager shows that CPU usage is only about 20-40%. Even when I use the VideoForWindows mode (which switches hardware acceleration completely off). So is it even using the GPU then? And why isn’t it using the full capacity of the CPU? It’s time to dive a little deeper into the memory specs of this machine.

The system has 4GB of memory, but for some reason only 2,18GB (2229 MB) is reported as ‘usable’. In the resource monitor I can read: ‘hardware reserved 1867 MB’. This is because 32 bit windows can only address 4 GB for memory and hardware addressing togetherHere is a nice post by Jeronimo Colon explaining the Bootcamp bios emulator needs to address certain pieces of hardware, so it borrows addresses from the upper levels of your address space so they can’t be used to address your memory anymore. The more cynical approach is that the bios emulator is purposefully crippling your windows experience, here is some evidence of that. So with 32 bit systems, adding more memory will not help: There also are reports of 8GB macbooks that only show 2GB of usable memory.

On top of that, the 2,18 GB of usable memory also is shared with the graphics card. The GeForce GT330M has 1370 MB of RAM, of which only 512 MB is GDDR3 dedicated video memory, the other 858 MB  is shared system memory.

Here is a nice explanation of the memory-usage you can readout from Task Manager: in my case only (Total-Available)= only 1150 MB is used. Windows Committed 2135 MB to it’s programs, this means that if all programs need all of their ‘promised’ memory, it would still not have to use the page file on the disk. But what I can see is that they system is always writing with 1MBps to the disk: it seems like it is writing the ‘modified cached’ files to the disk, so this memory is ‘standby (available)’ again.

All in all, it’s not perfect but I’m starting to think it might be the MBP or the windows7 install, instead of the all that NLE software I’ve tested so far. I guess the next step is to upgrade to the 64 bit Windows 7 or 8 and see how it holds up there.

Playback on Toshiba win7/64bit

So I started testing on a Toshiba with win7/64bit, the same processor (Intel i5), the same 4 GB of RAM and an Intel HD Graphics 4000 video (BIOS 2130.2). I’ve updated the driver to the latest version with DirectX 11.0 and I think it also supports OpenGL (there is OpenCL 1.1 for the i5) and Intel QuickSync Video. QuickSync is recommended by Magix but there are also other nice things like this free QuickSync DirectShow Decoder. One thing to note is that the screen driver is a Generic PnP Monitor: 60p only!

With this setup I get smooth playback at 1/4th resolution of 960*540 pixels (set with the properties -> video/audio tab) and Standard video playback modus (hardware Direct3D). Sometimes it gets really bad and then it seems to help to defragment the harddisk.

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Posted in: Editing, S3d