For quite a while I resisted including a review of Vegas Movie Studio on this site because I just plain disliked the user interface and its complicated interface meant that I never really got very far trying it out anyway.
Every time I installed it and opened it up for business I would find myself just staring at the screen kind of blankly wondering where to start and wondering why everything seemed so unfamiliar and confusing.
However a year or so ago I was asked to write an article explaining how a new user should approach choosing a suitable editing product when all the user interfaces bear no resemblance to anything they are familiar with in either the real world or even on a computer.
It was at that point I realized that the problem I was having with the Sony product was the same problem any new person would be having with just about any editing program.
In addition to that I have always had a number of people whose opinions I respect tell me that the software was great and that I was just being stubborn… How rude!
So I decided to clear my mind and take a fresh look at Vegas Movie Studio to find out what the real story was.
Well the short answer to that is I have had a change of heart for a few reasons.
The first of these comes down to the history of the software itself and how it came to look so foreign to me.
Creative Software originally created Vegas as a high end video editor with aspirations of hitting the pro end of the market.
This meant that the user interface was specifically designed to suit existing professional editors, to make it completely familiar to them in an effort to attract their business.
At some point they seem to have discovered that there was a consumer or hobbyist level of the market worth pursuing as well, so instead of designing software for that market they took Vegas and tried to dumb it down for the masses.
The result was that they took a sophisticated and complex piece of software aimed at pros and turned it into a complex and stupid piece of software that could be understood by no-one!
The chief problem in designing the user interface of any video editing software is that there is no comparable thing in the real world to base it on. A word processor can at least start out with a “virtual” blank sheet of paper.
If you couple that with the need to include an overwhelming array of features and capabilities within that interface you begin to see the problem the designers have in keeping it workable.
Check out the image below… it certainly was busy!
Now because I cut my teeth on the “consumer style” layout, Movie Studio always seemed so foreign that I would simply give up.
The truth is that regardless of what software you choose there will always be a learning curve as far as the interface goes and this is an important point to keep in mind.
Whether you have come from one brand to another or from a consumer based product to a pro based product there will always be a learning curve.
Once you realize that and accept that is how it will be then the question is, “How well does the manufacturer of the product guide you through that learning curve?”
In the case of the Vegas product, Movie Studio, they have met the challenge admirably and have included with all their versions of Movie Studio a series of excellent interactive guides.
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 at 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.
So What Changed and Which Version?
I think it was about two years ago that someone at Vegas Creative finally realized that Movie Studio had a problem and that problem was its complexity.
To address the issue they separated out the two different markets and began to approach them more according to the needs of the market rather than by simply trying to simplify Vegas.
Vegas Pro remained as it was and has since been developed unto itself whilst Vegas Movie Studio has been taken forward along its own development path.
The New Interface
The other thing that always put me off dealing with Movie Studio was trying to sort out exactly which version of the software can do what.
The Vegas Creative website provides a side by side comparison but it always drove me nuts trying to sort it all out. I finally bit the bullet on this as well to get it sorted and as I suspected (but could never prove!) it is reasonably simple.
You can take a look for yourself at their comparison guide here but in a nutshell here is a rundown of the various versions.
Movie Studio 13
This is the bottom of the scale version. It offers basic editing features but has no ability to create discs of any kind. It has limited audio features and only ten available video or audio tracks.
It does have integrated uploading to YouTube 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 13 Platinum
At this level Movie Studio adds the ability to burn DVDs, Blu-ray discs and AVCHD on to DVD discs. You also get Dolby AC-3 surround sound capability for both mixing and output. There is a much wider range of audio effects, video effects and filters plus greater ability to control them.
Movie Studio Platinum 13 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!
The Platinum Production Suite does it all. It has hundreds of features and can do just about anything you can think of. It is at this level that the interactive guides really become necessary.
It also adds their Sound Forge audio software into the mix which gives you absolute control over the audio and to be honest, no other video editing software at this level comes even close to it.
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.
Vegas Pro 13 Edit, Vegas Pro 13 and Vegas Pro 13 Suite
This is their range of professional level video editors and is most suited to… well… professionals!
Starting at around $400 and topping out at around $800 they have everything the professional editor wants or needs.
For the home consumer I think we are definitely getting into overkill territory here!
There is no point going into what Vegas Movie Studio does 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 is easily the most feature packed product at each price level.
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.