Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12 review

17 Aug 2012

A massive performance boost thanks to 64-bit and GPU acceleration – this no-nonsense video editor is ready for serious use.

Price when reviewed: 
60(£60 inc VAT)
5

Sony’s latest update to its affordable video-editing suite has, bizarrely, dropped the Vegas branding, but with a host of new features including 64-bit support, this cut-price suite is back and better than ever.

The arrival of 64-bit support is welcome and has been a long time coming – it was added to Vegas Pro 9 back in 2009. It’s better late than never, though. Comparing versions 11 and 12, we saw a big jump in the preview performance, up from four to seven simultaneous AVCHD streams without dropping frames. This was with the preview monitor running at 960 x 540 pixels. There was no improvement for 1080p previews, Sony’s latest version managing the same three streams as its predecessor.

Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12 - Preview window and interface

Still, Movie Studio makes it easy to adjust preview quality as necessary for smooth playback, and there’s a live frame rate readout to help keep an eye on performance. Seven streams in our standard preview-performance test make it one of the fastest performers at this price. The maximum video and audio track counts have been increased accordingly, up from ten to 20 of each.

According to the feature comparison table on Sony's website, this version doesn’t include GPU acceleration for effects. Our performance tests suggest otherwise. We imported a 1080p clip from a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and applied three effects – Color Curves, Color Corrector and Gaussian Blur. Preview playback in version 11 came in at around 1fps. Version 12 managed 21fps. There’s an option to disable GPU acceleration in the preferences, so we can confirm that this 2,100% performance boost was entirely down to the GPU. Exports were four times faster, too.

Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12 - panning and cropping

Not all of our test results were this dramatic. Four stacked instances of the Gaussian Blur effect gave a 12-fold improvement, while the Chroma Key effect showed a three-fold improvement. A handful of effects, such as Wave, Pinch/Punch and Film Effects, aren’t accelerated at all. However, there’s no question that the combination of 64-bit code and GPU acceleration amounts to a massive upgrade. Graphics card support is wide, too, thanks to Sony’s use of the OpenCL framework – see the system requirements for full details.

There are some drawbacks to the GPU acceleration. One is that stability suffers a little. We experienced a couple of crashes during testing, and given that Sony has had time to iron out problems with Vegas Pro 11, we suspect that it might be an inevitable downside of harnessing the GPU via OpenCL. We also experienced some visual tearing in the preview monitor when complex effects proved too much even for the GPU acceleration to play smoothly.

Details

Price ex VAT £50
Price inc VAT £60
Overall rating 6
Ease of Use rating 6
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6
Software subcategory Video editing software

Requirements

Processor requirement 2GHz

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? no
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no
Other operating system support Windows 7