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At first glance, MediaEdit Pro looks as though it might fill the gap between iMovie 4 and Final Cut Express. It sports slick packaging, a familiar interface, an impressive name, and a reasonable price.
The “Pro” at the end of its name gives the impression that this program is powerful despite its low price. After all, iMovie is a little too rudimentary for some people, and Final Cut Express intimidates others. It seems only right that a program would come along to occupy the middle ground between those programs. Unfortunately, MediaEdit Pro does not.
The program does have merits that you won’t find in other midlevel movie-editing programs. MediaEdit Pro’s painting and drawing tools, which are similar to those in Adobe Illustrator, let you draw directly on your movie clips – a cool feature. Media-Edit Pro also lets you use Apple’s iSight to quickly capture video.
The painting and drawing tools are helpful if you wish to attempt rotoscoping, or painting frame-by-frame over your clips. They may even lead to some visually innovative movies. But most casual users won’t want to take the necessary time.
MediaEdit Pro has four main windows: Movie Viewer, Clip Organizer, Controller, and Action History. Unlike iMovie or Final Cut – in which a browser window displays all movie clips, music, and images – MediaEdit essentially asks you to do your own media organizing.
You access the Media Browser catalogue utility, which acts as a hybrid of Adobe Photoshop’s File Browser and OS X’s iPhoto, from the File menu. It can preview any images and clips in your system, construct slide shows, do basic image editing, and import selections into a movie.
MediaEdit Pro’s approach to media organization makes it difficult to find all disparate music, images, and movie clips, even with its Media Browser. For example, adding music from an iTunes collection is tedious. Without the advantage of a quick search field, as in iMovie, you could spend hours looking for the right tunes.
The Clip Organizer is divided into two tabbed sections: Clips and Timeline. You can order clips by dragging them into place, or edit them by double-clicking to launch the Movie Editor, where you’ll do most of the detail work – such as adding titles; colorizing clips; assembling transitions and effects; adjusting clip speed; and importing, creating, and adjusting audio tracks. We were a little disappointed with the limited previews for transitions and effects.
You create titles as graphics inside of clips, essentially painting them on a clip in the Movie Editor. This approach may seem flexible, but it’s also time-consuming and imprecise. You won’t find fancy rolling credits, as you will in iMovie or Final Cut, unless you make them yourself – typical of this application.
Sometimes it takes something like Media-Edit Pro to make you realize how good iMovie’s simple interface is, or how powerful but easy to use Final Cut Express is. MediaEdit Pro lacks many features you’d expect to be pre-packaged, such as titles and pan effects.
While the program’s authors made a valiant effort to create an easy and powerful video-production tool, the fact is that Apple got there first and has set a high standard for ease of use and efficiency. We’d like to see a viable competitor for iMovie, but in light of iMovie 4’s latest enhancements, Media-Edit Pro barely makes the cut.