This Vegas Movie Studio 15 review marks the second release of the software since Magix bought out the entire Sony Creative range of video and audio editing products the year before last.
Despite the doomsday rumblings of existing users regarding what Magix was going to do with the software, this update and the last have clearly indicated Magix intention to bring the software up to date and to continue its development.
So just as I do whenever I am embarking on any review, here is a video from Vegas Creative showing a quick overview of the software itself and what has changed in this new version.
Before I get into a full Vegas Movie Studio 15 review I think it is important to address why Movie Studio in many ways sits outside the box when it comes to consumer level video editing software.
Movie Studio is a bit of an oddball within the the consumer level video editing software market in that it doesn’t really look or behave like most of the others in this category.
The reason for this is that the product itself grew out of the original Creative professional editing software which we now know as Vegas Pro.
At that time video editing software was considered to be something only professionals would ever use.
The idea that average people would be shooting and editing digital videos on home computers was about as likely as us all having flying cars.
Sadly we don’t have our flying cars yet but we certainly do have a wide range of video editing products available!
All of those early editors were based on the terminology, techniques and workflows of professional film editors which is why when you look at the Vegas Movie Studio user interface, it can seem a little daunting!
However the reality is that no matter which editing software you choose if you have had no previous experience with it, it will all look a little daunting.
Every brand of software on the market will at least at some point in time make the claim that, “It’s easy to use!”
I don’t care which software you are using or are thinking about using, that claim is absolutely meaningless.
I have had friends who are professional video editors at the level of feature films sit down with an “easy to use” consumer grade editing suite and be utterly stumped by it.
So, is Vegas Movie Studio easy to use?
Yes, if you are a professional editor!
If you are not, then like the rest of us you have a bit of a learning curve to get over before you can unleash its full potential.
So the real question is, “How well does the product guide you through that learning curve?”
In the case of Movie Studio 15, they have met the challenge admirably and have included with all their versions a series of excellent interactive guides built in to the program.
For any person new to video editing or new to the software this is by far one of the best introductions and guided tutorial series I have seen.
Before you even get started with the software you can spend an hour or so just following the interactive lessons learning the exact procedure for any given task within the software.
You can get up to pace and be working on your project in no time at all and more importantly, any time you get stuck or want to know how to do something, you can access the appropriate guide and find out immediately how to do it.
To give you an idea of it check the video below for an overview of accessing features and generally moving around the interface.
Although a few years back Sony attempted to improve the overall look of the program and make the interface easier to understand I can’t really say they succeeded particularly.
The image below is the old interface and I guess if you were looking for outdated and clunky this would certainly fit the bill!
The good news is that in this latest release Magix have taken the bit between their teeth and completely revamped and streamlined how the software looks and behaves.
I think part of the problem for Sony was that they never really understood what “consumer level” video editing was and how the average person actually used the software.
Fortunately this is exactly where Magix’ expertise comes in and the new interface is clean, modern and does not make your jaw drop to the floor in horror when you first see it!
I think this is a bit better!
As far as other “New” stuff goes most of it falls into the category of bringing Movie Studio up to date with the other video editing suites at this level.
Magix’ task with this software was never really to introduce a bunch of shiny new toys for us all to play with.
What they have added are further improvements to the user interface, a new “Quick Start” window for when the software launches to quickly get you set up for your intended workflow.
At the basic Movie Studio 15 version they have added:
An improved interface for adding and organizing your project media as well as improvements to the support of certain video file formats especially those coming from iPhones.
The hardware acceleration has been upgraded in line with changes to CPU and GPU developments over the past year speeding up both rendering times and the overall editing experience.
One of the more interesting addition this year is a feature called Event Healing which I particularly like.
In the course of editing in general it is common to get to a point where you realize that an earlier editing decision you made needs to be undone.
In all video editing software the only way to backtrack on editing decisions like that is to repeatedly hit the “Undo” button until you get there, make the change then manually “redo” all subsequent changes.
With Event Healing you can select the clip or asset in question and undo the specific step you want without having to retrace evey editing step you took.
At the Movie Studio 15 Platinum Level they have added:
A couple of extra customization options for the interface allowing you to change the basically what adds up to the skin color of the program as well as options to set the background color.
Enhancements to the behaviors of the windows so that you can dock them or rearrange them how you like.
Two added plugins purpose built for applying Picture-in-Picture effects and for cropping overlays.
An instant freeze frame video creation tool which allows you to freeze the video for as long as you like without having to create an image and insert it on to the timeline and finally HEVC support for H.265 video files.
At the Movie Studio 15 Platinum Suite level they have added:
A package of “Jumpstart Templates” which are simply templates you can use for the fast creation of projects.
Put simply they are projects thshave been created with placeholders so that all you have to do to get a quick project completed is to replace the place holders with your own assets then render to complete.
iZotope RX Elements, which is a visually driven set of audio correction tools which makes audio corrections much easier and faster to deal with.
The Boris Continuum Film Style Unit plugin that you can use to create projects with a more cinematic or “film” look without having to go into seriously time consuming color correction or grading.
And finally the HitFilm Boost Pack which is another plugin that offers some pretty advanced filters and effects you can use to enhance your projects with.
Vegas Movie Studio is offered at three levels:
Movie Studio 15
This is the bottom of the range version.
It offers basic editing features but has no ability to create discs of any kind, has limited audio features and only ten available video or audio tracks.
It does have integrated uploading to YouTube and other services because that’s basically the style of editing or distribution it is aimed at.
It would ideally be for someone wanting to perform simple editing and uploading to the internet or mobile devices.
Movie Studio 15 Platinum
At this level Movie Studio adds the ability to burn DVDs, Blu-ray discs and AVCHD on to DVD discs.
You also get a much wider range of audio effects, video effects and filters plus greater ability to control them.
Movie Studio Platinum 15 Suite
This version represents the peak of the consumer level of the Movie Studio family.
It has all the bells and whistles and I think if you look hard enough you will find the kitchen sink too!
It has hundreds of features and can do just about anything you can think of and it is at this level that the interactive guides really become necessary.
There is just a bewildering array of video, audio and still image effects and features inside the program and to list them all out would take pages and pages which I am not going to do here.
You can see a full Product Comparison Chart Here
There is no point going into what Vegas Movie Studio 15 can do here… it does it all and it does it very, very well!
Of all the video editing software at the consumer level Vegas Movie Studio 15 is one of the most feature packed products at each price level.
It particularly excels in the field of manually controlling every aspect of video production and honestly if it can’t do what you want then you probably need to go up to a pro editor.
With its excellent tutorial system the learning curve is still a curve but much less painful than most.
Within a very short time you will have the software well under control and doing what you want it to do.