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Vegas Movie Studio Platinum
The first thing I have noticed about the latest Vegas Movie Studio Platinum (version 14) is the lack of reference to the marque's new owner, Germany based MAGIX. I wonder if this is to differentiate the package from MAGIX' own software, or after being a Sony product for so long, trying to get people to call it MAGIX Movie Studio proved to be an impossible task?
The answer is somewhere in between I am sure, but doesn't in any way detract from the software itself I assure you.
Way back when - roughly 1998 - when digital video editing became a thing (most notably as I recall with Adobe Premiere 4.2, allied with a book by Michael Ferrer of Pixelan fame from Peachpit Press, you'd shell out hundreds of dollars to get what seems today just the basics. If you needed to do anything fancy, the a thou' or so was then needed for Adobe After Effects. (The basic Vegas Movie Studio is only AUD$49.95 and will most of what Premiere could do back then and some things it even couldn't!)
So, in those days, if someone suggested you could get probably 85% of the power of Premiere and After Effects together in a package that sells in Australia for under a hundred bucks, you'd think they were barking mad and aiming to be the Pres of the USA perhaps!
But that is what you are getting with Vegas Movie Studio Platinum ver 14.
And whilst all these nifty tools are there, the software has had a makeover too.
The familiar light grey facade of the Vegas family has been changed to a black motif in Vegas Movie Studio Platinum (and I suspect this will flow through to Vegas Pro as well. All the kids are doing it!) that is not unattractive. In fact, the whole interface has been made over and somehow looks cleaner and more businesslike. Text descriptions and icons are sharp and clear and if there is any criticism, you may have to change your monitor's contrast a little as on my Dell 27 XPS All-in-One, the vertical lines in the timeline were quite faint.
Apart from the mandatory already-in-place tracks for Text, Video, Audio and Music, the interface e is almost indistinguishable from Vegas Pro with tabs signifying different elements such as Explorer, Transitions, VideoFX and Media Generators. There is just no trimmer window immediately open that's all.
You are not limited to these ready built tracks by the way. You can add more as you need.
Along the bottom are transport controls and icons for such things as markers, regions, snapping, automatic crossfading, Auto Rippling and so on. All very logical.
As well as the preview window, there is also a Media panel that holds the media bins. All panels can be docked or floating and set into your own favourite locations to build the interface as you want it. Holding CTRL will dock a window back again from floating (a nice touch is little pop up hints that tell you these things. Well done MAGIX).
Adding media into the media pool is done via the Project Media tab that allows either drag and drop from Windows Explorer or simply choosing files from Vegas Movie Studio Platinum own Explorer window. I easily pulled in 4K footage with Vegas Movie Studio Platinum automatically invoking the Main Concept codec make it a smooth painless operation.
Once in the Media Pool, double clicking put the clip into the timeline video track. Double clicking the clip then invoked a floating trimmer window which of course you can then dock if you wish (and save this setup for later use). Up to 10 different layouts can be defined and save and recalled at will with a shortcut key. This means you can have one for trimming, one for audio, one for DVD authoring and so on.
Similar to Vegas Pro, MAGIX has invoked a "live" scrubbing playhead system whereby simply moving the mouse over the clip will automatically movie the playhead to a new position accordingly. It's not one of my favourite features if I am honest as I found it distracting, but of course your mileage may vary.
When you become familiar with the shortcut keys of Vegas Movie Studio Platinum, editing can be done very quickly indeed (eg "I" for inpoint, "O" for outpoint and them "A" or SHIFT A to add to timeline). I have a trusty Contour ShuttlePro under my left hand and in conjunction, this makes editing a breeze.
After adding a second clip, a manual cross fade can be performed by simply dragging the new clip backwards on the timeline and creating as much overlap as you want to. Right clicking the cross fade lets you fine tune this even further. If you want a different type of transition, under the transitions tab are a couple of dozen or so you can play with. To implement one, simply drag and drop it onto the junction area of the two clips.
Similarly, adding Video FX to clips is performed by dragging the required one from the Video FX tab onto the clip and adjusting the parameters in the pop up window as necessary. And there are LOTS to play with from the cheesy (Swirl, Spherize) to the super sophisticated (Secondary Colour Corrector, Chroma Keyer). Effects can be applied to entire video tracks too by clicking the fX button.
Just as in fully blown Vegas Pro 14, track motion is supported in 2D space (although not 3D) via keyframing. Track masking however is not available and nor are event FX; you'll need big brother Vegas Pro 14 for those sadly.
You can perform composites however, by clicking the composite button in the track header. Compositing basically lets you define how transparency of a track is generated and whether and how tracks "below" the current one are visible. Composite child tracks can also be created allowing groups of tracks to be composited together. When you fully understand compositing - and it does take a little getting your head around - this gives you a very powerful tool to use in your video editing.
Multicam production is supported with up to four cameras in a single timeline and a simple click of the mouse lets you select between them. The Vegas method of multicam editing I have always found to be easy to implement and use so its carry over to Vegas Movie Studio Platinum is very welcome news indeed. Many other NLE's way of allowing multicam editing is a bit convoluted to say this least; this is easy and intuitive as well as visual.
The last tab is for Media Generators, and this is where you'll find solid colours and patterns you can use in your videos as well as the titling tools and credit rolls and crawls.
One word of note here regarding Media Generators, Video fX and Transitions. As Vegas Movie Studio Platinum uses an open architecture similar to that of other packages (Hitfilm springs to mind) any effects etc these packages have installed will also automatically show up in Vegas Movie Studio Platinum letting you use them inside the package. There is no guarantee they will work, but in my experience the failure rate has been very minimal.
In this version of Vegas Movie Studio Platinum, NewBlueFX are included in the package further widening your range.
At any time, you can play the timeline and get smooth playback complete with rendered transitions, even though you have a mix and match of media on the timeline - AVCHD, Quicktime, MP4 etc. But then again Vegas has always been able to do this. In Version 14, the RAM Preview has also been beefed up giving better performance than in previous versions.
Version 14 automatically adjusts to your monitor resolution, and if you are lucky enough to have a new 4K monitor, it will take advantage of that too.
A new addition is that of "Music Maker", a method of combining premade sounds, loops and vocals to build your own soundtrack. OK it's no PerSONUS but for musical beginners it is a great little app to get started with. It is supplied with a bunch of tools to get you up and running. Additionally, the audio editing functionality has always been very strong in the Vegas family (Vegas started lie AS a multitrack audio editor) and the range of effects and "sweetening" tools available here is extensive enough to satisfy all but the most dedicated audiophile / sound engineer.
When your masterpiece is complete (are they ever?), as well as being table to save the finished product to a portable device, your hard disk or to DVD or Blu-ray, Vegas Movie Studio Platinum is now able to send it seamlessly direct to YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo. Indeed, you can send to all three at once if you wish. This takes all the guess work out of choosing the right codec, bit rates and so on that confuses so many people, and is a large step forward from previous versions.
If at any point, you get stuck on a function or cannot remember how to do something, a nifty little "Show Me How" button on the top of the screen walks you through the type of issues you may be having to find the right one and then runs a little tutorial to inform or refresh you.
Personally, I still like to see a full blast manual available, but maybe I am in the dinosaur age; I remember fondly just sitting down with real paper manuals and having the occasional browse and always learnt something I didn't know. PDFs just don't' have that!
Vegas in all its forms has always been a solid package. I was aware that when Sony sold the suite off to MAGIX that there would be some disquiet as to how the evolution of the program(s) would develop. Well I think with this version of Vegas Movie Studio Platinum at least, any fears can be dispelled. At AUD$79.99 this is astonishing value for money for the editing power you get and with the exception of masking, places Vegas Movie Studio Platinum in the higher echelon of NLEs.
It's is not a huge download (<500MB) unlike others, and is quick to get up to speed with even if you have never used an NLE before. The built-in tutorials walk you through as you go when you get stuck, and a one click post to YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook takes all that pain away. Even DVD or Blu-ray burning is made easy with lesser chance of the dreaded "coaster".
If you are a newbie, wanting to take your smartphone, compact camera or video camera footage to new heights, then I think you'll be pleased, with Vegas Movie Studio Platinum. If you need more, then the Suite version also includes SmartSound Sonicfire 6 (another product we love and recommend by the way) NewBlueFX Titler and the HitFilm Toolkit Pack for an extra $60 which we also think is money well spent.
David is the owner and publisher of Australian Videocamera. He has a background in media dating back to 1979 when he first got involved with photojournalism in motorsport, and went from there into technology via a 5 year stint with Tandy Computers.
Moving back to WA, David wrote scripts for Computer Television for video training for the just released Windows and Office 95 among others, and was then lured to Sydney to create web sites for the newly commercial Internet in 1995, building hundreds of sites under contract to OzEmail including Coates Hire, Hertz Queensland, John Williamson, the NSW Board of Studies and many, many more.
David can be contacted via [email protected]
Sony Vegas, Vegas Movie Studio Platinum, Video Editing
Source:Digital Media Online.
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