In August 2010 I wrote about the viability of using Vegas Movie Studio (VMS) for production work. It's no secret that VMS and Vegas Pro are built from the same codebase. In some cases, features that first appear in one will show up in a later version of the other, and it isn't always Vegas Pro that gets the goods first. The new Vegas Movie Studio 11 builds on version 10's feature set with several useful upgrades, and it even includes some fun extras such as Hollywood-style special effects.
New Text Tool
The new text toolset is an example of VMS getting a feature before Vegas Pro. The new Sony Titles & Text tool is a new style of generated media and contains 24 presets, all with some type of exaggerated motion applied to the text. The name of the preset becomes the default text in the event when you select it. By looping the event and scrolling through the presets, it's easy to audition each one.
The New Sony Titles & Text tool in Vegas Movie Studio Pro 11
You can customize many of the parameters in the Titles & Text tool; customizable options include font, color, size, scaling, outline, and shadow. You can make additional movements and adjustments during the length of an event via keyframe animation, but the basic animation is built in and can't be changed. This is a limitation, as most of the presets are of the bouncy-text variety. Some of these would look right at home in a trailer, as part of a company logo, or in an edgy commercial or promo.
It's a fine line that Sony has to tread.
For a couple of years, users have complained that the ProType Titler (PTT) introduced in version 8 was nonintuitive and difficult to learn. The Titles & Text plug-in is kind of a "ProType Titler Lite" with built-in presets. Once you learn how this titler works, you can dive into the PTT with confidence. It will be interesting to see if the Titles & Text announced in Vegas Pro 11 (which was not yet available at press time) is exactly the same as this or if it will have more flexibility.
Improved DSLR Performance
VMS 11 has the DSLR enhancements that were first introduced in last year's Vegas Pro 10. It's specifically designed to work with QuickTime AVC and QuickTime AVC/H.264 video.
Stereoscopic 3D was introduced in last year's Vegas Pro 10, and it has made its way into VMS in this version. You can edit on any monitor with old-school red/cyan glasses or use RealD 3D glasses and a 3D HDTV as an external monitor.
Choosing 3D Project Properties in VMS HD 11
Another feature jumping from Vegas Pro to VMS in this version is the ability to use your video card to assist in rendering your project. Depending on the speed of your CPU and the speed of your GPU, you may not get any performance increase at all. This works with both NVIDIA and ATI video cards and is good for Sony AVC rendering only.
Speaking of rendering, the Render As dialog box has been completely revamped. You can now navigate to your templates and render preferences more quickly in most cases.
There's support for newer cameras, more included project types, and improvements to many of the core elements of VMS. Check the Vegas Comparison Chart at www.sonycreativesoftware.com for more information. You'll find that the least expensive version of VMS 11 (about $50) doesn't have 3D and some of the more advanced features, but even the most capable VMS Production Suite retails for only $130 and comes with all the bells and whistles, as well as a variety
of additional software for audio production and special effects.
Choosing an output format in VMS's Render As Dialog
As I've said before, if you're a Vegas Pro editor, you probably won't want to go down in capability. But if you're already using Vegas Movie Studio or want to get your feet wet with Vegas without spending a ton of dough, version 11 of Vegas Movie Studio is a great way to do it. Who says you can't get a lot out of Vegas with just a few bucks?
Even more intriguing this month is the 1.0 release of MoviEZ HD (available as a $45 download from Sony). What exactly is it? Is it an automated photomontage tool? Is it the elusive "one-click" program that does the editing for you? Is it Sony's newest nonlinear editor?
It's not really any of these, but it is kind of fun. Are we really down to the fewest number of mouse clicks to rate a software package? Click and choose your photos or video clips. Click and pick one of 10 included edit styles. Click and choose your music. Click Play and admire all your hard work.
Choosing an edit stule in MoviEZ HD
You can go back and alter the length of the music track, the order of clips, the parameters of the style-all sorts of things. Your final output options include social media site presets, DVD, and HD. How does this compare to similar programs such as Animoto and Muvee? Well, Animoto is an online service that charges $39 a month if you don't want the Animoto logo on the production and is just for stills. Muvee is a stand-alone software package that is very similar to Sony's MoviEZ HD and ... hey, wait a minute ... this sure looks familiar ... I'll be darned, they're the same! How do I know this?
I know it because in version 1.0 of MoviEZ HD, there is text specifying "Begin Muvee" and "End Muvee" in the dialog box to edit the LifeStory style. In fact, you can buy additional editing styles at the Muvee website (and download a couple of free ones), and they work fine with Sony's MoviEZ HD. There you have it, your early Easter egg.
MoviEZ also includes simple splash intros and end credits (with sound effects) that are customizable. You can add voiceover or narration simply by plugging in a microphone and clicking the record button. There's even a rudimentary mixer for adjusting the levels of all the inputs.
Recording voiceover in MoviEZ HD
Is MoviEZ HD for you? I know lots of high-end video companies that are using Animoto for knocking out photomontages, and this is where I think MoviEZ HD shines. We normally use Ultimate S Pro from VASST for our photomontage work and will definitely use this as well. When I showed it to Christie (my wife, partner, and head photomontage-maker), she exclaimed, "That's pretty cool!" and agreed that she'll use it too. It might be perfect for one job and overkill, gaudy, or just not right for another.
Both Vegas Movie Studio 11 and MoviEZ HD are available now for download and purchase. As always, try before you buy and see what you think.
David McKnight (david at mcknightvideo.com) is half of McKnight Video of Houston. He is vice president of the Houston Professional Videographers Association (HPVA), has Sony Vegas and HDV certification, is the technical editor of the forthcoming Vegas Pro 9 Editing Workshop (Focal Press), and is a contributor to TheFullHD Book (VASST). He and his wife, Christie, are winners of multiple HPVA awards.