Like Adobe, Sony has two tiers of editing suites: the professional grade, aptly named Vegas Pro, and the consumer grade, Vegas Movie Studio. The latest version of the latter, Movie Studio 8, may seem like the Pro version to first-time users, but its step-by-step instructions make mastering this powerful program a cinch.
Installation and How-Tos
Installing Sony Vegas Movie Studio 8 took a very short five minutes and completed without a hitch. Upon launch, this program hits the ground running. No wizard appears to help you create your future funniest home video, not even a dialogue box asking if you'd like to start a new project. There is, however, a small window providing tutorials and links to everything you'll need to know to win with Vegas.
To the editing novice, Vegas Movie Studio may look intimidating. It's really not; it just looks more complicated than a basic user might expect. Fortunately, Vegas Movie Studio has some of the best how-to options we've seen. Want to know how to create a video crossfade? The tutorial will walk you through it step-by-step, creating the crossfade at the same time. We liked that this particular tutorial also showcased how easy tasks are in Vegas.
Vegas Movie Studio has a timeline across the upper half of the screen, a preview window on the lower right, and a tabbed box that defaults to a file explorer on the lower left. After choosing your files, you can access the clip trimmer, all of your project media, transitions, video effects and various media generators. The media generator is more akin to the visual effects and title sections in other suites. The generator also includes the color-bar television test pattern, which is useful for checking the color on your monitor or television.
Adding a title opens up the Video Event FX window that includes options for editing the title font, the text color properties, the font effects, and the placement of the title. The placement section allows you to enter numbers for plotting specific points on X and Y axes or to move the text around the screen with the mouse. Either way, your changes are reflected both visually and numerically. You can also use the title timeline at the bottom of the window to insert points for where you would like the title to move across the screen.
Overall, Vegas Movie Studio's interface was similar to other editing suites we've tested, although we liked that Vegas only has a timeline view instead of both storyboard and timeline views. For us, the timeline view is generally a much easier way to follow the flow of a video and to see what effects are active on each clip. We also appreciated the light-colored background for the main window, as the graphite look thatAdobe Premiere Elements 4andCyberLink PowerDirector 7sport can be a strain on the eyes when you're editing darkly lit video.
One of our favorite features of Vegas Media Studio is its true scrub control, which lets you view and listen to a clip in forward or reverse based on how fast you move the cursor over it. This is a must-have feature in professional editing software, and we are very happy to see it included in a consumer-based program.
Vegas Movie Studio also includes several color presets that will drastically alter your video to create interesting effects (for example, giving clips a red hue) or will help correct colors that fluctuate from one clip to the next due to lighting differences. You also have the option of adding your own presets. Although it was a bit difficult to tell which preset was applied due to the lack of an OK or Apply button, we like the option of color-correcting a clip at multiple points within that one clip.
Other tasks in the program are completely intuitive. If you want to fade in a clip, simply grab the upper corner at the beginning of the clip and pull it down. This method is almost as easy as Premiere Elements' menu option for fading.
Waiting for YouTube Support
With its lack of direct YouTube upload, Vegas Movie Studio is due for an update and will be getting one soon. The next version, Vegas Movie Studio 9 (available in August) will add that feature along with Cinescore Studio soundtrack creation, which is based on the professional version of Sony's Cinescore software.
Vegas Movie Studio has a steeper learning curve than Premiere Elements 4.0 and CyberLink PowerDirector 7, but it's a powerful program that is well worth exploring. We hope the new version continues to include the comprehensive tutorials, while avoiding oversimplification of the software.