So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Sony Vegas Movie Studio + DVD
- Fantastic audio support, comprehensive manuals.
- Very long start up
More power than an entry-level video editor should ever need, however with a simple workflow and intuitive wizards, it won't take long before even the complete novice creates a compelling piece of cinema.
Price$ 239.00 (AUD)
Sony Movie Studio is an ideal 'all in one' video movie maker for the enthusiast and also a handy program for the entry level user. Extensive use of Wizards show you everything from saving to DV tape, writing a DVD or even sending your video over the web via email or onto your own site.
The big selling point, (if you are to believe the box), is the wonderful world of High Definition Video (HDV). However, as there are only a couple of HDV camcorders on the market at the moment and DV still dominates video camera sales, it's the normal DV functionality, features and output that this program should be judged. Thankfully, Sony has delivered an application that performs as a 'click and create' solution for new users - as well as a more robust application for the video editing enthusiast.
Windows users will be very familiar with its workspace as Movie Studio users a Windows Explorer-type view to locate assets such as video, audio, still images and graphic files for importing into the program. These files can then be dragged and dropped into the timeline as required, or assembled into a single folder created on the desktop, which then becomes an asset bin.
All the expected features are there such as automatic scene detection and drag and drop asset management. However it's the powerful yet simple workflow that will please both new users and those more experienced video enthusiasts. The audio extraction, compiling and editing tools are arguably better than any other entry-level package on the market. This superiority in audio is also an indicator of the programs history - with experienced users of video editing programs likely to recognise much of the functionality as being found in the Sonic Foundry's VideoFactory application.
Sony purchased both Vegas Video and VideoFactory, as well as Sonic Foundry's exceptional audio editing applications such as Acid and Sound Forge a few years ago - and have continued to develop the programs, adding some great value added features.
Movie Studio Platinum 6 deals with many video, audio and image file formats with ease. Simply scan a photo directly into the media pool area or bring the image directly into the timeline from a digital still camera. MP3 audio files are supported, or you can simply extract the audio you want from an audio CD. Platinum 6 also supports up to four separate audio and video tracks, which should be enough for most video editing projects. If you want to go with unlimited tracks, then you need to consider Sony Vegas 6, which is more of a 'prosumer' level application which also introduces a steeper learning curve.
A colour correction facility is easy to use and can prove to be a great way to deal with video content from different sources. Three colour wheels provide access to the appropriate primary colours where you can either fine tune selections of video or even pump up the colours to create some great effects.
If you want to go to DVD straight away, Movie Studio can save video as software-compressed MPEG-2 files, or keep your video content as an AVI file until you are ready to create your final masterpiece for distribution. Other output options such as to DV or HDV tape, the web or back to your hard drive, are handled either through simply exporting from the timeline or follow the prompts after selecting the 'Make Movie' icon at the top of the menu screen.
Extremely rare, in these times of online support and manuals on PDF, Movie Studio + DVD contains three manuals covering Vegas, DVD Architect and Acid XMC. An additional book on HDV by respected video editor, Douglas Spotted Eagle is recommended reading before you dive into HDV, with an extensive rundown on all the various digital video issues that you need to be familiar with before you get too far into your movie.
For the price, this suite is hard to beat and its features ensure that new users will still find the application a valuable tool as they grow more experienced over time.
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