PapaJohn Productions

Newsletter #182 - Dec 09, 2007
Vegas Movie Studio 8 - first look


The year is ending and it's time to clean up some left-over stuff and think about what's in store for 2008. One of my left-overs is a box with Vegas Movie Studio... Video Editing and DVD Creation Software... sitting on the sidelines for over 2 months ever since I bought it from Fry's at an offer that was too good to say no to... $60 (net of zero after free shipping and $60 in rebates).
The box doesn't say it can handle HD files, but I thought it could... I've got a few downloaded 1080i samples from a Canon HV20 camcorder to check it. 
As the world turns, I see more cameras and camcorders that don't work directly with Movie Maker... so my toolbox of software is becoming even more important than ever. To be comfortable handling all the different types of video files, to be ambidextrous with XP on the left and Vista on the right, maybe Vegas Movie Studio will play a key role... or maybe not. Let's take a look.
Before getting into it, here's a couple notes.

What's Patrick Leabo up to??
Those of you who use Transition Maker 2 know the great work that Patrick Leabo does. Although he's not planning to update TM2 to run on Vista, I see a number of forum posts that shows him exploring and having fun with Vista.
Click the picture, a link to his 40 second sample video collage at Putfile.... done in Vista.
To see how he did it and try something similar yourself, here's the forum thread in which he's sharing the details.
2008 - more about Vista 
This year saw the initial wave of change from XP to Vista... I expect 2008 to be mostly about Vista. And with all the HD TV sets sold this holiday season, there will be much stronger interest in HD.
I just signed up at an active Canon HV20 forum with over 5,000 members... to help me learn about things like '24p pulldown'. I don't have an HD camcorder but it's never too soon to find out more about them. 
Today I got my first iCard from an Apple store in Alabama... as I did my part in helping some friends and family members move from Windows to Apple systems this year... I'm hoping they give me better feedback about how things work... or not... in that environment.
... back to the main subject  

Vegas Movie Studio
Movie Studio InstallationThe installation disc is a DVD, not a CD... with two software apps
The default installations go to:
c:\Program Files\Sony\Vegas Movie Studio 8.0
c:\Program Files\Sony\
DVD Architect Studio 4.5
There were no issues with the setups, entering serial numbers, and doing online activations/registrations...

Initial Startup... immediately followed by the first updates
There was one DLL error message during the first opening of Movie Studio (I said OK and kept going). The install was followed by a notice that updates were available...
I downloaded and installed v8.0c (81 MB) and v4.5c (58 MB).... no issues installing on top of the previous installations, and this time there was no DLL error when opening the app for the first time.

Main Working Window of Movie Studio 8
After a quick look, and with the aid of some neat animated built-in help that points exactly to the icon or button you are looking for, and all but makes the choices and presses the buttons for you, I had...
I was looking at this timeline, previewing it in the monitor at the lower right. All was being previewed fine... all but the text clip, which I need to do more homework on.   
Movie Studio
Save MovieThat's enough for the first quick check. I don't need any real content. It's time to turn the project into a video file.
The main menu under 'File' showed 3 possible choices... 'Make Movie...', 'Render As...', and 'Publish...' Let's see what each offers.
I first opted for 'Render As...' and picked the widescreen NTSC DV-AVI option. Rendering
Bad choice... it happened so quickly that I almost missed taking a snapshot... 7 seconds to get a DV-AVI file!!! That give me much confidence that I had a good file. Good videos take time to render.
I saw only blackness and heard nothing when I played the saved 80 MB DV-AVI file in WMP and previewed it in Movie Maker 2.1. The file size seemed OK but the contents were totally missing.
The second try was to the NTSC DV option. That one took 8-1/2 minutes to render. It was 280 MB in size and looked great in Windows Media Player... all but the text clip which I hadn't done right.
I took the sample into Movie Maker to annotate it and make a
Newsletter #182 Sample
Of course the quality of a website file of 7 MB is far short of the 280 MB DV-AVI file, not to mention the starting HiDef files... but you get the idea. The rendering worked fine.

Main Working Window of DVD Architect Studio 4.5
I put the DV-AVI file I had just created into the DVD menu, along with two WMV files. One was last week's holiday Photo Story and the other was a sample file from Movie Maker...  the previews of all three looked great.
I didn't take any time to make a good looking menu. My goal was simply to run a quick check of the full process.
DVD Workspace
Here's a snapshot of the DVD preview in Architect Studio.
DVD Preview
DVD BurnedAfter a little previewing, I hit the 'Make DVD' icon to do the transcoding and burn a disc.
This was on my XP laptop. When I got the good news note and the drive door popped open, I put the disc back in the drive to check it in Media Center software.
It played well on my el-cheapo $29 DVD player also.

Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
Vegas Movie Studio was a pretty positive experience... here it was Friday morning and I didn't have a newsletter topic, just this unopened box sitting next to me for months. A few hours later I've gone from A to Z and watched a great-looking DVD made from WMV and MOV high def clips. Video making doesn't get much easier or better.
I now have another software package that is easy to recommend. 
Have a great week and a Happy New Year!!