Creative Labs Video Blaster MovieMaker

(02/12/2001) – I don’t want to be Fellini. I just want to transfer my aging VHS tapes of classic horse races onto a more stable medium. It’s almost as if Creative Labs Inc. designed its an estimated CDN$300 Video Blaster MovieMaker video converter just for me.

Measuring 1.5 by 6 by 8 inches (width by depth by height), the stylish silver-blue, shark fin-shaped Video Blaster actually improved the look of my desktop. Aside from its rugged good looks, the Video Blaster offers real-time encoding of analog audio and video from Hi-8, VHS-C camcorders, and VCRs. Once you’ve converted your analog video to digital format, you use the bundled Ulead VideoStudio 4.0 video-editing software and Video Blaster for MovieMaker software to edit your videos, add sound and titles, and even throw in basic transitions and other effects.

Let the Moviemaking Begin

Connecting the Video Blaster to your PC is easier than plugging a VCR into a cable TV converter box because you don’t have to bother with a coaxial cable. You just run the three color-coded RCA cables (left audio, right audio, and video) from the source’s output to the front of the Video Blaster, and then you run the USB cable from the back of the device to your PC’s USB port. The box also includes a microphone port so that you can add voiceovers to your videos. I loaded the drivers without a hitch and watched Sunday Silence outduel Easy Goer in the stretch of the 1989 Kentucky Derby on my PC just a few minutes after I cracked open the Video Blaster box.

In my tests the brightness, contrast, saturation, and sharpness were all easily adjustable through a slider on the Video Blaster Control software. My main complaint with the software is that I would have liked numeric equivalents for more-precise adjustments so that copies of videos recorded at different times or on different devices could be more easily made to look similar.

There are plenty of other recording options available. You can limit the recording time; select MPEG-1, MPEG-2, or Video CD as your output file format; choose among four video quality settings, ranging from 500 kbps to 2 MBps; and select from two audio quality settings, 192 kbps or 224 kbps. I was pleased enough with the Video Blaster control software to bypass the included Ulead VideoStudio 4 and use the extra disk space for my MPEG files. When I was ready to transfer my videos from my hard drive to CD, I had no problems using Video Blaster software’s one-click CD-burn feature.

The main drawback to creating digital video is that it requires lots of memory and processing power. Creative recommends a system with a 350-MHz or faster CPU, at least 64MB of RAM, and 2GB of free disk space.

If you have the horsepower and the bytes, the Video Blaster MovieMaker could make the transition from yesterday’s medium to today’s quite a bit smoother.

Prices listed are in Cdn currency.