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Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 10.0 review

Ben Pitt
11 Jun 2010
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Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 10.0
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
51
inc VAT

The core editing tools are as good as ever, and with more tracks, Blu-ray authoring and some fantastic new effects, it’s an unbeatable package.

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Vegas Movie Studio Platinum has always scored highly for ease of use, but in version 9 it slipped behind its rivals in terms of features. This latest update puts it firmly back on top.

The colour correction facilities were already a cut above the competition, and now they’re even better. A secondary colour corrector isolates and adjusts only certain specified colours in the frame, while a white balance effect removes colour casts with a single click.

Also new are a simple Slideshow Creator wizard and video stabilisation to counteract wobbly camerawork. The latter is astonishingly effective, eliminating small jiggles entirely and transforming handheld camera pans so they glide as if floating on ice. The picture is cropped to give the software leeway to iron out shakes, and this crop is sometimes extremely tight – an option to ease off would be welcome.

Other improvements address the issues we had with version 9. Projects now contain up to 10 video and 10 audio tracks. One track is often all that’s necessary, but for intro sequences, complex text animations and other special effects, the previous version’s four-track limit could be frustrating. Another grievance was that the MPEG-2 and AVC export templates couldn’t be customised, and lacked options for 24fps and standard-definition widescreen MPEG-2 export.

Thankfully, these limitations are now lifted, with comprehensive control over all encoding specifications. The bundled DVD-authoring tool, DVD Architect Studio 5, now supports Blu-ray, and can even create 24p discs. Its menu-design facilities are far better anything else at this price, with straightforward default settings and the ability to customise not only the appearance but also the behaviour of discs down to the finest detail. It can’t generate AVCHD discs but can write Blu-ray data to DVD media, which plays in some Blu-ray players.

As ever, the best thing about the Vegas range is its speed and precision of operation. Edits are executed with the minimum of clicks and the controls remain extremely responsive no matter how complex a project gets. The timeline can zoom from viewing the whole project to individual frames as quickly as it takes to spin the mouse wheel, and frame-by-frame adjustments are far easier to make here than elsewhere. The revamped New Project and export dialog boxes will help less technical users to find the best settings.

There are extensive preview quality options for balancing resolution against smoothness, and a new option that optimises it automatically. We managed four simultaneous AVCHD streams on our test PC – an excellent achievement. For really complex scenes, it’s easy to cache a section of the timeline to disk for smooth previews, although this must be updated after each edit. Sadly, there’s no proxy editing facility for handling HD footage on slower PCs, although those with the patience could use the Replace command to swap files manually.

For people who want something simple and cheap, there’s Vegas Movie Studio HD, which currently remains at version 9. It has four video tracks, omits the best effects and can’t author discs, but costs just £31 including VAT. As for the Platinum version, with its track count and export limitations lifted, it no longer feels restricted compared to its rivals. There are better choices for HD editing on aging PCs, but otherwise, this is by far the most capable and rewarding editor within reach of home users.

Details

Price£51
Detailswww.sonycreativesoftware.com
Rating*****

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