Vegas Movie Studio 13 Review

Sony Movies Studio product range.

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!

sony-movie-studio-boxSo 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!

Vegas Movie Studio 12 Interface

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

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!

Summary

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.

Click Here to See the Vegas Movie Studio Range

4 / 5 stars     
Vegas Movie Studio 13 Review was last modified: September 7th, 2016 by Lance Carr
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17 comments to Vegas Movie Studio 13 Review

  • David

    Hello. I read this article with great interest. I had been a Pinnacle user since forever, but after Version 12 I decided to try Sony Vegas. They actually released bug fixes! Pinnacle seemed to carry the same bugs from one version to another. I currently have version 11 of Vegas Movie Studio HD platinum suite. Is the update to 13 worth the cost? Has Pinnacle finally figured out how to release software that won’t kill you from frustration due to the bugs? What would you suggest? I loved using Pinnacle Studio and would consider switching back if they have fixed the issues I mentioned.

    • Lance Carr

      Hi David,
      Yes Pinnacle has certainly has its fair share of “moments” throughout its history!

      Probably around the time you ditched it, it was bought by Avid and they made some inroads into getting it stable… but!

      Given that they are a software company used to only working at the pro end of the market I think they realized they has bitten off a little more than they could chew.

      Possibly by the time they were surrounded by enraged villagers with pitchforks and lit torches they made the decision to sell Pinnacle to Corel.

      Corel spent probably about versions 16 and 17 just trying to tame the beast and get it to behave which they did quite well.

      Versions 19 and 20 have been good solid updates and hopefully the instability issues are behind them now.

      As far as Vegas goes, Sony sold it to Magix last years so the entire Vegas range has moved over there.

      Magix have released a new version of Vegas Pro and a new version of Vegas Movie Studio is in the works right now and should be due for release pretty soon.

      I think you should wait until that release and then take a look at updating to the new version.

      Magix have undertaken to respect the upgrade pricing paths that people agreed to when they originally bought the software from Sony.

  • Sam

    Hi there, I’ve read the review on this as well as on pinnacle studio and I am in a real dilemma as to which one to choose. They both seem to be very powerful and professional editing softwares, have been around for a while and both do the job of allowing you to create high quality content. I am fairly new to editing, but am looking to invest in a software to develop my editing further. I also like how there are different types, eg with song Vegas you have the simple edition, followed by the platinum one and then suite and the same is for pinnacle studio too, again making it difficult to differentiate them! Please could you help in pointing me in a direction. I am slightly gravitating more towards Sony Vegas as I read one part where you said it is capable of doing anything you can think of. But then again, how you said the one thing that stands out about pinnacle studio is its control, also sounds really good. I would also like to add that this review website is the best I have seen and it has helped me narrow down my choice of softwares. It’s very concise, detailed and straight to the point, so thank you for providing us with this information.

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Sam,
      Well congratulations!

      You actually did the work and got it down to two… genius!

      So let’s clear up one point.

      They are both NOT “very powerful professional programs.” Yup! You read that right.

      They are both very powerful consumer levels programs that can do what the pro level programs of five years ago could do.

      They definitely are at the top end of what you as a relatively new user, will need for some time yet.

      At this point in time there is almost nothing separating them feature wise or performance wise so the good news is that you can’t go wrong here!

      The bad news is that you still have to decide!

      I am thinking that you feel more comfortable with Vegas Movie Studio so here’s another bonus.

      Once you get to the top of the range with Pinnacle you are done.

      Once you get to the top of the range with Vegas Movie Studio you can then (at a discount!) keep going higher to their fully professional editor Vegas Pro.

      That’s about all that is separating them really!

  • Withehld

    I just upgraded from Sony Vegas Pro 13 to Vegas Pro 14. It is a nightmare. The installation base on Windows 10 has increased 8 fold (VP-13 was 110MB, VP-14 is a whopping 990MB). The software itself is extremely buggy, it constantly throws Exceptions, crashed a few times in the first 30 minutes after installation and once it crashed my system entirely. The app shows low memory errors, fails to load projects with just 4 or 5 files and throws exceptions after every 5 or 10 operations. IT felt like Magix has taken Sony’s Vegas Pro and transferred all their bloatware into it and released the product without adequate testing or quality control.

    I have uninstalled Vegas Pro 14 and my system is back to normal. Luckily I had not uninstalled Vegas Pro 13 which, is still working fine.

    I have reported all the errors with screen-shots to Magix and have asked for my money back. Keeping fingers crossed.

    Stay away from Vegas Pro 14.

    • Lance Carr

      First of all for anyone reading this let’s be clear here.

      This is the review page for VegasCreative Movie Studio NOT Vegas Pro 13 or 14 so your observations are not relevant to this page.

      You are talking about a completely different product.

      However, I am not surprised that this latest update has been problematic.

      The sheer logistics of Magix taking over the entire Vegas and Movie Studio range must have been enormous.

      The idea that Magix would spend a bucketload of money on getting these products and then carelessly screw them up is just silly.

      Clearly your individual experience has not been pleasant but I have just been to their user forum and have seen nothing like this being reported anywhere there.

      In fact I specifically went there to see if YOU had reported it in an effort to resolve your problems. I guess I must have missed it.

  • I found your article as I have used version 11 for a number of years. I love it, but it crashes and stuggles with long video clips. So I thought I should look at upgrading and had no idea what this meant. Your article has given me a lot of encouragement. I absolutely agree about heir tutorials to help get started. I originally used Adobe premier elelments – they lost in in one of their upgrades everything changed so much, I did not have a clue what I was doing so ditched it and found Vegas 11. Thank you for your article, well written and honest.

  • John Norton

    This looks like the last version (13). So new users should consider whether getting to grips with it is worthwhile. Other software, PD etc will probably continue to be developed.

    I have version 13 and like you I put off getting it for a very long time, got ver 13, fabulous, powerful program. A bit of a learning curve definitely, can’t say I would ever know all of it, but enough to get by. I’d really never use anything else after using svp.

    • Lance Carr

      Hi John,
      I am not sure why you seem to think this is the final version of Sony Movie Studio.

      I haven’t seen or heard of anything like that.

        • Lance Carr

          Not at all John.

          Yes it has been purchased by Magix but they certainly did not buy it to let it slowly die!

          That’s just bad business.

          Magix have made pretty good products for a while now but have found it difficult to break out of the European market which is their traditional base.

          By acquiring the Sony stable they are most likely looking to keep the brand intact and continue development to maintain that market.

          • Lance Carr

            That’s pretty much the type of scenario I was expecting John.

            I remember when Corel bought Pinnacle there was endless gnashing of teeth and moaning but the reality is why would a software buy a piece of software and then not continue to develop it?

            Especially ones like those in the Creative stable with a huge, existing and very loyal user base.

            Magix don’t actually need the software, they have great products already.

            What they want is the customer base and the brand so I am sure they will do everything they can to please that customer base.

            In the case of Pinnacle, Corel have actually built that software back up from the buggy piece of crap it was to the point where I am thinking about putting it on this site as a recommended product!

            Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write!

  • Hazel

    I didn’t like it for the first hour or two of the trial software (Platinum Suite 13) – the lists and so on put you off. So I downloaded a trial of PowerDirector. Instantly liked that. After a couple of days of playing around I much preferred the Sony – it is very versatile, it’s clever, and once you’ve got the hang of it it is incredibly quick and easy to use. Went off PowerDirector. The only thing I wish is that some of PD special effects were in the Sony package! One thing I really like – when you upload a video, whatever frame rate it is at, the Sony one will ask if you want a custom frame rate to match it, and then set it for you. Clever. Also if you want to edit quickly, you can drag fades on very quickly and easily without wading through a load of transitions. It also handled a Quicktime video much better than Powerdirector. I like both, but after using them for a few days I preferred the Sony, even though PD looks slicker (initially).

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Hazel,
      Thanks for dropping by and giving us a rundown on your experience ans conclusions. It is much appreciated.

  • Jerry

    Had 11 upgraded to 12 (current) never invested quality time to learn the features, functions and benefits – got the job done taking more time than necessary and was about to change to another manufacturer til I read your article which basically described me. Will probably upgrade to v13 and pay more attention and learn how to maximize Sony’s efforts to make me look good or at least look like I know how to create excellent productions. Thanks for reminding me of that old adage: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush…”

  • Ramya

    Perfect post at right timing. Thanks for the post. It was very helpful!!

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