Sony Movie Studio
• Powerful video editing tools
• 3D capabilities
• Wide selection of transitions and effects
• Good audio editing
• Phone support costs extra
• Complicated for beginners
Sony Movie Studio gives wannabe movie makers a full selection of tools, effects and features but what it gives you in depth it takes away in ease of use. Sony Movie Studio is not the simplest video editing software to use and beginners may find it daunting. More experienced users, however, will appreciate the near-professional level of control available.
This review is based on the Sony Movie Studio 11 version. Where Platinum 12 features are discussed I have made a note.
The Sony Movie Studio set up system is pain-free and simple. You are provided with a wizard to speed you through the process and you can start editing within a few minutes. To create a new project you are given a pre-set group of settings based on where you are burning your disks. For example, a US location uses AVC-HD 1080i in NTSC format with stereo sound.
Movie Studio works with Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 operating systems – the software is not compatible with Macs. Operating requirements include 400MB of hard disk, a multi-core 2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and an internet connection. As with most other video editing packages this one takes up quite a lot of disk space so you do need to make sure you have enough.
Import your digital video and photos from a range of different devices including DV, HDV and AVCHD cameras. Super HD 4K content is not supported. Once imported, the audio, video and stills images are organized for easy viewing, however, Sony Movie Studio lacks tools for tagging that would allow you to classify your media more effectively – there is no auto analyzer and face recognition, for example. This organizational technology is included in other software packages and its omission here makes it trickier to find at-a-glance the clips you are looking for.
Sony Movie Studio provides a good selection of video editing tools and features you can use to put together a professional-looking video package. Transitions and text tools included with the software are easy to use – add in scrolling credits, animated text, or use the Titles & Text tool to easily see which effects you are giving your words on screen. There are hundreds of transitions to choose from and you can adjust the level of the effect as well as the type – the number of choices you have with many transitions can be a little overwhelming.
Features to give your video a different look include adjusting the playback so you see your video in slow motion, playing the video in reverse, and giving the video the green screen treatment. Create slideshows from stills images using the set of tools and transitions available.
If your videos are in less than perfect condition Sony Movie Studio includes image restoration tools and a set of color correction features to sharpen images, balance the colors, boost washed-out footage, erase red-eye and stabilize a shaky video.
The Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12 version gives you the chance to produce 3D video using a comprehensive set of video editing tools especially for this medium. The process is not as straightforward as with other software but it does the job. This version also gives you the Split and Trim buttons, allowing you to easily clip and insert sections of video into the timeline.
Creating a movie soundtrack is not simply about adding tracks to your images. A good video editing package should give you control over all aspects of your movie’s audio. With Sony Movie Studio you can add tracks from CD or MP3 and drop them into the timeline. Also, clean up the audio by removing unwanted noise from the movie so the soundtrack is more clearly presented. If you don’t have your own tracks or want something royalty-free there is a music and sound sample library. Movie Studio gives you 10 audio tracks and you can use some of these to record your own narration or voiceover for the project. Movie Studio Platinum gives you 20 tracks to play with. This version of the software also allows for audio time stretching.
Sony Movie Studio uses the same platform and concept as its Vegas Pro software so the performance is certainly there – with Movie Studio you never feel like you’re using a second-level software system, although at times the complexity of the program can be difficult to manage.
64-bit editing improves the preview performance and Sony offers a fast solution to your video editing needs. As the Platinum version of the software comes with 20 audio tracks you’ll find the performance of this version an improvement on previous. Graphics hardware acceleration also boosts performance power, making Sony one of the contenders for best video editing performance.
Sony Movie Studio Platinum is the version that allows you to burn Blu-ray discs. Burn DVDs or Blu-rays direct from the timeline as a faster way of creating the final product. Sony Movie Studio also makes it easy to create a menu-based DVD using ready-made templates, or by adding your own design features. Use the Preview Window to watch a TV-version of your movie using a virtual remote control in order to test the look and quality of the final project.
Export your movies on YouTube, Facebook and other social networking sites using the integrated “direct publish” link in Sony Movie Studio. You also have the choice, using the Make Movie button, of exporting your video to hard drive or a portable device. There is also a site provided by Sony called PixelCast which may not rival YouTube but could be of interest to someone who wants a simple way to get their video seen by friends, relatives and the community.
Edit in HD and export in high definition, and also work with both HD and standard definition in the same project. Sony supports a variety of HD formats so you can share your HD movie once it is created.
Ease of use
Sony Movie Studio is not as straightforward to use as other consumer video editing packages. The interface and layout is more akin to a professional software package than one for home video editors. For example, effects and transitions are found in folders rather than laid out in user-friendly spaces – a lot of features and language seem to be designed around the needs of the pros. That said, Sony Movie Studio does offer drag and drop functionality which helps when moving files around the timeline, which is stretched along the bottom of the screen, and adjusting them to your needs.
Setting up a new project is easy with the wizard that makes sure you are working with the right settings for an optimized end result. We also like the buttons that explain program elements when you hover the cursor over them, and the tutorials you can open for extra help with elements of the video editing process.
Help & support
The main support you get when using Sony Movie Studio is through the Show Me How tutorials that pop up when you want them. The tutorials contain dialogue boxes and pointers so you have more of an idea what to do.
Further help and support can be found on the Sony website. The Knowledge Base would be more helpful if it was divided into sections based on which software you are using – right now, you type a question and are directed to different answers that concern the whole suite of products from Sony. You can email to ask technical questions but phone support is only provided to US users if you purchase a Support Plan. There are a range of packages available though none are particularly cheap for a phone line that is only open during the week from 9am to 5pm CST.
Sony Movie Studio offers fewer templates and pre-set editing functions making it less suitable for complete beginners, but intermediate and more experienced editors will appreciate the power and functionality built into the software. Movie Studio is packed with features and helps you create a professional-looking video project.
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