Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11

I’m a Sony Software fan.
I’ve been using Sound Forge, Acid, and Vegas since before they were acquired by Sony, and were still Sonic Foundry products.
These products were largely responsible for putting a more pleasing look on top of normally austere, “functional” software, and introducing tools to make editing a little easier.
The release of Vegas Movie Studio HD 11, brings some very pleasnt UI tweaks, but underneath is a suprisingly capable consumer video editor.

I currently use Vegas 10 Pro, so firing up Movie Studio 11, I was surprised to see how much of the pro version is retained in the “consumer” version of the suite. All of the major pieces seem to be in place, the layout is familiar, and I was able to edit immediately.

Support for differing file types has always been a welcome feature in Vegas. Out of all the NLE’s I’ve used, it’s surprisingly one of the more tolerant in pulling in video from different (and mismatched) sources. This could be, for example, pulling video from a camera, and from a phone, and using them in the same project. Often they’re different frame rates, different audio sampling rates, and this can sometimes affect other editors. Vegas usually handles these differences in the timeline rather well.

In use, I still think Vegas is one of the easiest NLE’s to learn how to use; importing files into a project (dragging and dropping them on the timline) making edits, even incorporating effects is all very straightforward, and the general layout of the program helps accomplish tasks easily. Looking at the recent UI updates for other programs (like say GarageBand for example), Vegas seems to have been ahead of the curve in many respects when it comes to consumer UI.

Effects are pretty well stocked. I was a little bummed to see that while things like 3D are supported, that often audio effects I liked in the Pro version would be missing–especially things like 5.1 mixing; but I would also have to assume that few people are really going to use something like this.

Unlike Pro, where you can have an unlimited number of video tracks, Movie Studio limits you to 10. This really isn’t to much of a problem if you’re editing a limited number of video files, but I was also disappointed that project nesting is disabled, which would’ve helped balance the lack of tracks available.

On the rendering side, There are pre-built templates for a variety of outputs, including: DVD/Blu-Ray burning, iPod, Sony PSP, Windows Media Player, and a direct to Youtube feature (which is oddly lacking on the Pro version of Vegas). GPU rendering is also available, and using it freed up my computer during the render as the CPU wasn’t bogged down.

On the whole, the things most missing from the pro version are the things most people wont have to worry about, like gigapixel images, 4K video, support for multi-layered Photoshop files, and AAF importing/exporting.

At $100, this really is a fantastic little editor for the weekend warrior “prosumer.” It’s a really solid PC counterpart to a program like Apple’s Final Cut Express, and in several respects I find it to have a superior ease of use (especially since FC Express is DOA).

Now if only we could have a brief chat with Sony about the name of this suite…

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