Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12: Video-editing software is still solid, but adds little oomph
Among consumer-level video-editing applications, Sony's Movie Studio Platinum is one of the most capable, offering more features than most of its competitors do. That existing wealth may be why version 12 ($95, 15-day free trial) doesn't add many new features: In pure breadth of ability, there just wasn't much to add to a program in this price range.
How many bits for 64 bits?
Sony does claim that the application is now 64-bit-compatible, like its pricier stablemate, Vegas Pro 11, so it can take advantage of more system RAM. I can confirm that the application did install to the (64-bit) Programs folder on my Windows 7 64-bit system. The only other 64-bit video editor that costs about the same is CyberLink PowerDirector 11.
However, whenever I played back the timeline or rendered video, a second, 32-bit process called 'FileIOSurrogate.exe *32' appeared in my system's Task Manager. Sony says that some third-party components, such as QuickTime, are not available in 64-bit form, so Movie Studio Platinum needs a helper process to support those components. The second process consumed nearly twice as much RAM as the main application did; at one point the main application was taking up 500MB of RAM, while FileIOSurrogate.exe *32 was consuming more than 800MB of RAM.
But whether Movie Studio Platinum 12 is truly a 64-bit application probably isn't a big deal. The project I set up to test the memory usage contained 20 high-definition video tracks and a few audio tracks. (Movie Studio Platinum 12 now allows you to add up to 20 video tracks and 20 audio tracks, up from 10 each.) Even on that fairly demanding project, the application didn't run out of RAM, and the fact that it splits up the work between two separate processes—even if one is a 32-bit one—indicates to me that it has headroom. The application itself is pretty lean, especially for a video editor; the digital download was only 177MB.
YouTube without the YouTube
Sony also added the ability to upload videos directly to its new hosting and sharing site, Pixelcast. With Pixelcast, you can share videos and photos, and then alert family and friends that you've done some good work there and that they can upload photos and videos of their own. It has an attractive interface and some neat features, including the ability to invite people to your "group" via Facebook or email, the option to put media on a timeline and/or a map, and the ability to apply some basic rights management.
Movie Studio Platinum 12 comes with a "Plus" Pixelcast account, which includes 5GB of storage space and an unlimited number of "experiences," and it removes the watermark applied to media that's hosted on a Pixelcast free account. Access to your Plus account lasts one year, after which you'll have to pay its usual $49-per-year fee.
Pixelcast blends some features of YouTube and some features of Facebook into one site. Although it has some good things going for it, I'm not sold on the idea of paying for Pixelcast while those other, free services exist. Sony says Pixelcast's collaboration features give it a key advantage over other video-sharing services: Because more than one person can upload their pictures and video to a group project, the group experience is enhanced through the expression of multiple points of view.
Other than that, Movie Studio Platinum 12 has few new features. It has a new stereoscopic 3D project template designed for Internet (YouTube) uploads, a couple of very minor timeline updates (one new button for splitting and another for trimming, which are pretty common features), a new way to trim clips in the timeline via a menu command, and a new way to adjust stereoscopic 3D clips.
While Movie Studio Platinum 12's cost is pretty typical of consumer-level video editors, you might consider spending a few extra bucks and choosing Sony's $130 Movie Studio Platinum 12 Suite instead. That extra $35 buys you Sony's Sound Forge Audio Studio 10, additional NewBlueFX 3D titling and video effects, and a tutorial DVD.
Pro look, consumer appeal
The fact that Movie Studio Platinum 12 has gone 64-bit isn't especially big news other than the fact that it doesn't have much company in that area, and the ability to upload to Sony's Pixelcast service doesn't wow me. It's a good video editor—but then again, so was Movie Studio Platinum 11.
Note: The 'Try it for free' button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.