I received a message from a reader who said, “Hi, I just bought a Sony laptop and it has this Imagination studio with Movie Studio Platinum 12 already installed. I have been using Windows LIVE Movie Maker for quite some time now and it pretty much suffices my requirements. Since I now have Movie Studio Platinum 12 with me, I was thinking of trying it to make videos (we make food recipe videos) and want to understand the differences between ‘Windows LIVE Movie Maker’ and this ‘Movie Studio.’ 1. Should we make a move from LIVE Movie Maker to movie studio? 2. Will it be a big learning curve? 3. How can we reduce/control/remove the background noise from video? Can we do it straight from Movie studio project? Your answers would help me make a decision. Thanks in advance for your help.”
Well, Soan, let’s take a look.
Windows LIVE Movie Maker is a very basic video editor. It allows importing / exporting, basic transitions, basic titling, and basic visual adjustments. I could see cutting home movies with it, very small videos with few cuts. This is a stand-alone editor, not made for professional or semi-pro work. It is a way to quickly edit short videos and / or photos. I tried cutting with Windows LIVE Movie Maker. It was enough the get a quick basic job done.
Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12 is a pared down version of their professional-end Vegas Pro non-linear editor. In fact, Sony in their marketing material lists them both as part of the Vegas software family. MSP12 gives you multiple audio channels, multiple video tracks, and a larger pool of built-in transitions and effects. MSP12 has a more professional UI, with a dedicated preview monitor window and a dedicated trimmer window. You also have up to 20 audio tracks to work with.
MSP12 is prosumer software, with less features than a full-fledged professional non-linear editor, but having more toys than the consumer-oriented Windows LIVE Movie Maker. This is stepping stone software. It has an almost identical UI to Sony’s Vegas Pro. If you learn MSP12 and decide you need more, you can upgrade to Vegas 12 with almost no learned curve to the basic cutting workflow. You will have more image control in MSP12 than in Windows LIVE Movie Maker. Don’t get me wrong, Windows LIVE Movie Maker is perfectly acceptable consumer-grade editing software. But for more image and audio controls, an easier to use user interface, and since it came with your new laptop, I would jump on MSP12.
As far as a learning curve, my 11-year-old got up and running with it in one sitting. Check out the article here.
Now for the third part of your question. MSP12 doesn’t ship with dedicated noise-reduction effects. At it’s heart, it is prosumer oriented. For excellent noise removal, my favorite is Boris FX, specifically Boris Continuum Complete. Here’s a look at their plug-ins here. Also, please visit their website.
But before I spent a lot of money on a plug-in set, I would look at your equipment and your lighting. Noise can get into your video because of the gain settings. The darker the subjects in the scene, the more the camera has to compensate by raising your iris and gain. Gain adds noise to your video as it boosts the video signal inside the camera to make a usable image. I’ve shot cooking segments before, and invariably I would put at least two lights on the talent, a key and a fill. I would also dedicate a very diffused light to the frying pan / dutch oven / mixing bowl / etc. the chef was using to boost the light on the food as it was prepared, but eliminating as many shadows as possible. Even with lower-resolution cameras, adding light to your scene will help your final product.
I hope this helps you, Soan. I would love to see your work. Please drop us a link in the comments section so we can take a look.