By Chris Drage
Anyone involved with video editing to any degree soon realises that Windows Movie Maker is pretty limited. That’s why many school media departments opt for Ulead’s VideoStudio, Avid’s Pinnacle Studio or indeed Apple’s Final Cut Express as suitable digital video editing software.
However, over the past two-three years Sony’s Vegas Studio software has increasingly impressed me if, for no other reason, than its rock-solid stability. It seldom, if ever, lets you down. And the latest, Version 9, unlike its rivals, offers an upgrade path that will suit practically any school, college or university.
The entry level Vegas Movie Studio 9 software is video editing and DVD creation made easy. You can quickly create movies with professional features and importing your digital video and pictures and arranging everything on the timeline is simplicity itself. Editing too is easy, and enhancements like transitions, titles, and special effects (including green screen) are very accessible.
Completed movies can be shared via YouTube or on authored DVDs using beautifully designed themes or using you own custom menus and graphics. What I particularly like with all the Vegas software is the exclusive ‘Show Me How’ interactive tutorials which not only help you get started, but ensure that there’s help at hand at all steps en route to the completed movie.
Vegas Movie Studio 9 comprises the main program, DVD Architect Studio 4.5, 44 DVD themes and 360 royalty-free, music soundtracks. There’s online help, PDF manuals and quick-start manuals to get even the most reticent video editor started. New features include streamlined ‘New Project’ and ‘Make Movie’ wizards (which schools will find particularly useful), integrated upload to YouTube and single-monitor, full-screen preview.
High-definition video is quickly surpassing standard DV and, as HD imposes huge overheads on both machine and software, it is imperative that the video-editing software handles the footage quickly and easily. Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Edition has been designed to do just that with features like ‘smart’ rendering which provides faster throughput. Powerful features for video compositing, colour correction, and soundtrack creation help students get feature-film results including surround-sound and the choice of hundreds of professional 2D and 3D video effects, titles, and filters. And if you have the hardware, you can burn your timeline to a Blu-ray disc.
I expect many secondary schools will push their budgets a bridge further and go for the Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Pro pack which, in addition to all of the above, takes HD video and audio production even further with tools for professional-level sound design and more video effects and transitions. For the additional readies, Platinum Pro Pack gives you Sound Forge Audio Studio 9 for precise audio editing and New Blue Effects and 106 3D transitions with the 1,001 included sound effects - guaranteed to spice up any multimedia project.
I do like the 'new project' wizard which provides optimal performance and a ”best workflow” for the editing process by ensuring that the project environment is set up correctly. This can be a great time-saver initially until students are really confident with the workflow process. Similarly, the new 'make movie' wizard eliminates the guesswork for output and provides optimized files in a few simple clicks for the web, DVD, email or for publishing directly and easily to YouTube.
The additional transitions and effects provided with Platinum Pro offer more choices and creativity in video projects while giving students the freedom to personalise their video productions.
If Movie Studio Platinum Pro is seen as restricting in any way then your students might like to get to grips with Sony’s Vegas Pro 9 (reasonable upgrade cost from Platinum Pro). Vegas Pro 9 is used by professional editors all over the globe and possesses a wealth of professional features and tools. It is the jewel-in-the-crown, ultimate DVE package from Sony Creative Software but, like the more humble Studio 9 series, it too has all the interactive tutorials providing walk-through demonstrations of common features and functionality offering an easy step-by-step method of learning.
Daunting it may seem, but it certainly is not in practice. If your students can handle Studio 9 confidently then the upgrade to Vegas Pro 9 is a straightforward one. Sony Creative Software’s Studio 9 series improves year on year. Now it offers a comprehensive range of products suitable for education establishments from primary to tertiary level. Sony offers a free trial on any of its products from: www.sonycreativesoftware.com/vegassoftware.
SONY creative Software suites
Vegas Movie Studio 9, £43.95 ex VAT
Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Edition, £64.95 ex VAT
Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Pro Edition, £81.95 ex VAT
Vegas Pro 9, £494.95 plus VAT
Vegas Pro 9 upgrade from Movie Studio Platinum Pro 9 (download), £335.95 plus VAT
Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose 5
Ease of use 5
Value for money 5
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