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Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £60
inc VAT

Existing users needn't rush to upgrade, but Sony's low-cost video editor still dominates for its precision and sheer speed of use


There’s an overhaul for the design of titles, which finally includes the ability to animate individual characters. The animation templates are polished and elegant, with none of the gaudy schmaltz that dominates most home-oriented editors. Some employ blur and glow effects, although these take a heavy toll on preview smoothness.

Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11 bezier
Bezier curves allow the upmost precision over animations – if only they were available for more than just a handful of text-related settings

Incorporating these animations into a project can be surprisingly fiddly, though. We’d prefer something along the lines of Cyberlink PowerDirector 9‘s text animations, where Start and End animations are selected separately for each text object, and the length of each section – including the static portion in between – is easy to adjust. It’s confusing that resizing a text object in Vegas Platinum has no bearing on the pace of the animation (instead, the pace is defined by a Duration setting that’s independent of the object’s length on the timeline). With no overview of animation paths, we found it tricky to place text objects in the frame, and found that some animations interfered with opacity and tracking settings made elsewhere.

Ultimately, the new text editor is welcome, but it’s at odds with Vegas’s streamlined approach that rejects template-driven editing in favour of simple tools that deliver precise results. It’s ironic, then, that animation of other text parameters, such as its colour and position, is executed with the utmost precision using independent keyframe lanes for each parameter, plus Bezier curves between keyframes. This unlocks some seriously sophisticated animation techniques – but only for this limited selection of parameters. We’re still patiently waiting for Sony to provide this kind of animation for the rest of the software to bring it in line with Premiere Elements and PowerDirector.

Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11 preview
Glitch-free previews of three 1080p AVC streams with effects and a text overlay is a fine achievement, but it requires a fast PC

Other improvements include a new Render As dialog box, which makes it easy to locate often-used templates, as well as ones that match the current project. There’s now explicit support for 24p, 50p and 60p editing, although it wasn’t hard to type these settings in manually in version 10. Improved QuickTime AVC decoding is also provided – we saw a four-fold boost to the smoothness of previews when editing videos from Nikon and Canon digital SLR cameras, bringing it in line with AVCHD preview performance.

AVC encoding can now be handled by the graphics card (with both ATI Stream and Nvidia’s CUDA supported), but in our tests this was slower than conventional CPU-based encoding by around 50% – comparing our fast Core i7 processor with an Nvidia GTX 275. That said, CPU usage dropped from 60% to 30% when rendering on the GPU, which means you’re more able to get on with other tasks simultaneously.

Vegas Platinum’s performance is better than ever, but it’s still not as good as PowerDirector’s with its 64-bit support, background rendering and proxy editing facilities. That’s why PowerDirector is still our top recommendation for those who want to edit HD video on slower PCs. It’s also a better choice for designing complex animated sequences using its 100 tracks and full Bezier curve-based keyframe animation.

However, for simpler projects on well-specified PCs, there’s still nothing to touch Vegas Platinum’s precise, efficient core editing tools and overriding air of polish and sophistication. This isn’t the most exciting update, but Vegas Platinum is better than ever and still the one for the competition to beat – and for home users to buy.

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Price £60
Rating *****

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