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Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Pro Pack review

Ben Pitt
30 Jan 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
71
inc VAT

End of the honeymoon in Vegas? Slick core editing tools, but Vegas is slipping behind the competition.

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Specifications

Back in 2001, a video editing application called VideoFactory arrived without much fanfare, but was the first affordable package that felt like a serious creative tool.

Eight versions, various name changes and a Sony buy-out later, it hasn't altered much. The precision and elegant simplicity that made VideoFactory such a delight to use remain intact, but Sony appears to be finding it increasingly hard to find ways to improve the package.

The most visible change this time is to the layout, with the timeline now at the bottom and the preview and other tabbed panels above. A New Project wizard sets the software to the appropriate region and output format, and a Cinescore plug-in generates musical accompaniments.

As usual, Sony has fallen back on improved format support to bulk out the list of new features. AVCHD support now extends to the latest cameras that record at 1920x1080 rather than 1440x1080 pixels. Sony claims the handling of HDV footage has also been improved, but when we compared preview and rendering performance between versions 8 and 9 we found no difference. It's now possible to upload to YouTube from within Vegas, and we particularly liked the option to upload at Normal or Higher quality settings. Perhaps the best news is the ability to export in high definition H.264 format, which is perfect for archiving HD movie projects on hard disk.

Vegas Movie Studio Platinum has supported high definition (HD) video for years, but this latest release is the first to offer a viable way to share HD footage with other users. Blu-ray Disc now appears among the Burn Disc options, and selecting it generates a menu-less Blu-ray disc of your timeline. It's also possible to write Blu-ray data to DVD media - a cash saver, as blank Blu-ray discs cost from £6, not to mention the price of Blu-ray burner drives. The resulting discs won't play in all Blu-ray players, though. Our Pioneer, Sharp and Sony players (including the PlayStation 3) worked fine, but Panasonic and Samsung players didn't. It's a shame Vegas can't write AVCHD data to DVD, as this format is more widely compatible.

Sadly, the main DVD authoring module, DVD Architect Studio, remains unchanged. It's still by far the most sophisticated DVD authoring tool at this price, but it's blissfully unaware of Blu-ray.

Choice cuts

As with previous versions, Vegas Movie Studio 9 is available in standard and Platinum versions at £37 and £50 respectively. The cheaper version lacks HD and various effects. The Pro Pack bundles the Platinum edition with Sony's excellent audio editor, Sound Forge Audio Studio 9, a sound effect library, some extra video effects and Cinescore Themes, plus - while stocks last - a 2GB flash drive. The audio editor alone is worth £30, and is a very useful addition for ambitious video editors.

However, it's these ambitious users who are likely to be disappointed by other parts of the software. The limitation to four video and four audio tracks compares badly with the competition, and object animation - for creating animated text, intro sequences and lots more - is clumsy compared to Adobe Premiere Elements. The biggest disappointment is the lack of full Blu-ray authoring. Premiere Elements (search for 242685 at www.computerbuyer.co.uk), Pinnacle Studio (218988) and Corel VideoStudio X2 can all create Blu-ray discs with menus, as can Sony's own Vegas Pro.

Vegas Movie Studio's core editing features are unsurpassed, but Sony needs to compete on features too if it's to regain its advantage.

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