The way we create and store media on DVD is about to change, as Blu-ray and HD-DVD will offer storage capacities that even two years ago would have seemed impossible.



So, it was only a matter of time before software supporting the new standards arrived. While Blu-ray isn’t supported here – you’ll have to wait until later in the year – MovieFactory 5 supports HD-DVD from the box.

What does this mean for the user? Well, it means you’ll be able to take any of your HD created content can be copied to disc or even transferred to MPEG2 if need be. Being the first application to support HD-DVD, there are teething problems and it doesn’t support all formats yet but we’re assured that free updates will appear regularly on the website. To this end, the software currently only supports drives from Pioneer and Toshiba but, once again, expect more support from the website.

With HD-DVD using up vast amounts of space, you’ll be glad this version supports dual-core rendering so if you’ve bought an Intel Core Duo based notebook recently, this will be the package for you.

Don’t think it’s only the support for new formats that is new, as Ulead has overhauled the look and feel of MovieFactory. The main interface, referred to as the Launcher, has been given fresh new look and feels intuitive. We haven’t had time to check out all the features but the main import/export and editing features are to hand and getting started is relatively trouble-free.

If you record TV footage to hard disk you’ll appreciate the inclusion of Ad-Zapper, a neat tool that cuts out the adverts. You do this from with the Multi-trim feature, which now also supports zoom functions, and we found it worked exceedingly well, managing to identify the breaks over a coupe of hours of recorded programmes. It works by flagging the adverts up as separate clips, which are easy to delete so you end up with a smoother program. The zoom function comes into its own when you want to trim footage precisely. Unlike previous versions, you can close crop into the actual frame-by-frame footage, which makes for a more professional finish.

Creating menus on your DVDs is handled by the SmartMenu, which allows you to show a still image from your footage, or in Loop mode you can even show a short sequence of footage. In the past getting these to look right has been rather time consuming but the new interface actually makes this easier to do – saving time and patience for better things.

If you’re looking to create an audio CD, or maybe just an MP3 selection, you’ll also find a tool to help you out and even offer label creation too.

Verdict

At the asking price this is a great set of tools that isn’t merely a refresh but a serious upgrade. If you’ve the previous version you can get a discount which we thoroughly recommend you take advantage of – especially if ready to take advantage of HD-DVD.