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Sony Imagination Studio Suite 2 review

Sony Imagination Studio Suite 2 gives you all the tools you need to make a masterpiece

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Our Verdict

For

  • Good selection of programs
  • Vegas Movie Studio HD
  • ACID Music Studio
  • DVD and Blu-ray authoring software

Against

  • Photo Go could be better

Sony Creative Software has quietly built up a portfolio of very good creative editing suites that have been hits in the professional and consumer markets. Imagination Studio Suite 2 includes five of the most popular, along with 360 royalty-free music soundtracks.

This collection provides powerful tools for almost any creative process involving video, music or photos, all for one price. If you were considering buying most of these products separately, you're going to save a lot of money.

If, however, you only want a home video editing program and have no interest in music editing software, buying the programs individually will be more cost effective.

Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 10 covers the home video editing side of things. It's an excellent package that gives you a wealth of options for editing your home movies. It's not the most user-friendly software, and beginners may feel overwhelmed by the complex interface.

However, it's a package that's worth mastering, because it offers excellent scope for editing home video footage and is especially adept at handling high definition AVCHD files.

As evidenced in Vegas Movie Studio HD's no-nonsense interface, this is a serious product. It doesn't have some of the 'wackier' – and often tacky looking – visual effects of its competitors, but it does provide excellent corrective and tweaking tools that can drastically improve your video footage.

The ACID test

The excellent ACID Music Studio 8.0 covers music editing. It turns your PC into a recording studio, letting you record, edit and mix live vocals and instruments (plugged into your soundcard or via a MIDI interface).

Over 1,000 music loops are provided, from various genres and instruments. These can be added to your music, or used to create new songs.

Two features we've been having a lot of fun with are the Studio Devil and Amber Lite plugins. The Studio Devil British Valve Custom guitar amp plug turns your PC into a guitar amp that can be used to recreate classic guitar sounds. The Amber Lite piano plug-in turns any plugged in piano keyboard into a fantastic virtual grand piano.

As with Vegas Movie Studio, ACID Music Studio's origins as a professional tool are still evident in the home version. While this means that it's incredibly powerful, it can seem overwhelming.

ACID Music Studio also has a more specific audience than Vegas Movie Studio, but it's an excellent home recording program, and adds a lot of value to the overall Studio Suite package.

Forging ahead

Sound Forge Audio Studio bridges the gap between Vegas Movie Studio and ACID Music Studio. Rather than creating new music, it lets you record audio from various sources, which is ideal for backing up your music collection from vinyl and cassette tapes.

Audio imported from analogue sources can benefit greatly from the clean-up tools provided, which remove hisses and other annoying noises. The tools aren't all about restoration though - some fun can be had with the ability to remove vocals from songs for karaoke. On second thoughts, perhaps 'fun' is too strong a word.

Photo Go, as the name suggests, is a digital photo application that imports photos from digital cameras and organises them by tags, date and time. You can also improve your photos with one click, adjusting white balance or removing red eye.

There's nothing you couldn't do with free software like Windows Live Photo Gallery, and it's not worth the £14.95 standalone price, but as part of the Studio Suite 2 package it's not bad.

Finally DVD Architect Studio lets you create DVD and Blu-ray discs with custom menus and graphics. It's not an amazing product, but if you don't already have a program that does a similar job then it's a welcome bonus.

The two biggest draws here – Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum and ACID Music Studio – are well worth the total price themselves. Indeed, buying one separately would cost almost as much as this whole package. If you're looking for a great value creative suite with excellent tools, this is it.

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