A lean, mean video-editing machine
Sony Movie Studio Platinum stands apart from other consumer video-editing software. Despite dropping the Vegas brand in this latest update, it closely resembles the professional Sony Vegas Pro rather than other low-cost editors. There are no themed templates that edit your footage automatically for you. It also rejects the tabbed interface used by most rivals to guide users from start to finish.
Instead, you get a business-like set of editing tools that make core editing tasks as efficient as possible. Arranging video, audio, photo and text objects on the timeline is extremely fluid. Functions such as fading clips in and out, dissolving from one to another or changing their playback speed can be performed directly on the timeline rather than having to visit a menu or pop-up window.
Other features demonstrate Movie Studio's close links to Vegas Pro. It's possible to adjust the volume of individual clips, audio tracks or the whole mix, and to gradually adjust the volume so it changes over time. Video effects settings can have gradual changes applied to them, too. The controls have been overhauled in this version so it's possible to tweak these gradual adjustments very precisely. The effects themselves don't offer much in the way of eye-catching spectacles but they excel for precise colour correction.
Creating DVD and Blu-ray movie discs is extremely sophisticated, with the ability to design menus and disc navigation structures from scratch. These features may be beyond the needs of most home users, but it's reassuring to know that there's room to grow with this software.
The biggest change in version 12 is the smoothness of its video previews. Editing HD video is hard work for a PC, but it's crucial that the software can play the contents of the timeline back without too many glitches. This latest version can harness the power of the graphics card to apply effects and play video, taking the load off the main processor. It also receives a significant boost when running on 64-bit versions of Windows Vista or 7. Export times are faster, too. You'll still need a powerful PC to edit HD video, but you'll be able to create complex chains of effects and overlay clips without running into problems.
The sombre appearance and lack of themed templates might intimidate novices, but Sony helps new users find their feet with an excellent set of Show Me How tutorials, which literally point at the buttons needed to complete a range of common tasks.
Movie Studio Platinum is an example of quality over quantity, with core editing functions that are polished, precise and extremely responsive. The lack of fancy effects puts the attention on the video footage and that usually results in better quality videos.
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Short on thrills and fripperies, but this video editor is elegant, efficient and has plenty of power where it counts
Smooth previews of HD footage; Precise timeline editing and colour correction; Sophisticated DVD and Blu-ray disc creation; Show Me How tutorials
Less hand-holding and instant results than in rival programs
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