The number one complaint from users of Sony Vegas Pro or Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum, is about the playback lag in the Preview Window which makes the video stutter.

In this tutorial I will explain the main reasons why this occurs and also offer some solutions. This article is actually one of four that I have uploaded in an attempt to offer the widest possible solutions to this common problem. The next three tutorials in this series are listed at the bottom of this article.

UPDATE: Newer version of this article posted here
Zen Tip #3: Why Is The Preview Window Lagging So Much in Sony Vegas?

Technology changes that exacerbated the problem

This problem became a big epidemic when people started to upgrade from using Standard Definition Cameras to AVCHD Video Cameras, but were still using their old computer running a Duo Core CPU. Full 1080p HD Video is up to six times larger in file size compared to Standard Definition video that DVDs use. So that means that your CPU "Central Processing Unit - the brain of your computer", needs to do six times the work to play it back when editing with Vegas. On an older computer, 1080p HD Video will virtually freeze up the whole machine.

The other big problem with HD Video Cameras is the Video Codec they use to save your videos. The vast majority of cameras use AVCHD H.264 video codec which is highly compressed. What that means is that Vegas has to do a lot more work to "decode" the video as it is playing it back in real time - this definitely adds to the lag problem. If you were to convert your AVCHD Video into a non-compressed .avi codec before importing it into Vegas, you would notice a big improvement in playback quality, however this method requires that you have tonnes of Hard Drive space. Uncompressed video is MASSIVE - AVCHD video can go from being a couple of hundred Megabytes to Gigabyte file size - it's a real catch 22 situation.

So the number one thing you can do to improve playback quality in Vegas, is to make sure your computer has at least a modern 4 X Core CPU running at a decent GHz speed. If you're on an old clunker then it is time to buy a new computer if you really are serious about editing HD Video.

All the other components in your computer also have an important influence on how well videos playback in Sony Vegas. A decent GPU "Graphics Processing Unit", fast and clean Hard Drives and plenty or RAM "Memory" also need to be looked at. Increasingly Sony Vegas and other video editing programs, are now utilising the power of your GPU to speed up rendering times and increase the playback quality in the preview window. I have plenty of other articles on this website that talk about how to optimise your computer for video editing, so I won't go any further onto this tangent.

Solutions:

Sony Vegas Preview Window Settings

The easiest way to help reduce lag in the Preview Window is to have a close look at your Sony Vegas settings. The Preview Window has four quality and size setting combinations that have a big influence on the playback quality. Setting everything to the highest settings is a recipe for failure, so try reducing the quality settings until the lag disppears. In the video below I will show you exactly what to do.

GPU Acceleration in Sony Vegas Pro 11

If you are using Sony Vegas Pro 11 then please make sure that you have your GPU selected from the Video Preference Settings. Having this turned ON will definitely improve the playback quality. Once again, I show how to do this in the video below.

Proxy Video Editing

Proxy Video Editing is a process where you create lower quality Standard Definition copies of your original HD videos and edit/create your project in Vegas using these lower quality versions. Then once you have finished all your editing you then replace the SD Versions back with the original HD Video files and render your project with them. Proxy Video Editing should totally eliminate any lag in the Preview Window.

Related Articles

How to Speed Up Rendering Times in Sony Vegas
How to do Proxy Video Editing using Sony Vegas - Zen Method
How to use Media Converter 7 to Create MPEG-2 Proxy Video Files
Zen Tip #3: Why Is The Preview Window Lagging So Much in Sony Vegas?

 

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About Derek Moran
Derek Moran is the author of all articles on Movie Studio Zen.
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  • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
    Kajti Zsolt
    • Member
    · 20:09 24/03/2019
    Derek Szia! Szeretnék segítséget kérni Sony Vegas pro 15-ről van szó. 4 k 25fps-es szépen megyék az előnézetben 4k 60fps meg akadozva megy. Tudsz esetleg valami megoldást erre a problémára? Intel core i7 laptopom van. Köszönöm szépen előre egy segítség! Üdv. Zsolt!
    • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
      Derek
      • Moderator
      · 16:27 25/03/2019
      Sajnálom, nem beszélek magyarul. A Google-t lefordítottam az üzenet olvasásához, de az angolul nem értelme?
      Kérheted a kérdést angolul?
  • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
    Alistair Barclay · 00:33 02/03/2019
    Hi I have tried any-video-converter as you suggest, but do not see a mpeg2 option, if that is not available what else can I try as my 4K footage is so stuttery in play to make editing very hard?
    thanks
    Alistair
  • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
    Mike · 09:44 21/01/2019
    Sorry if this is out of context Derek..dont know where else to ask!! I have been experimenting with various ways to render out 4:3 video footage to 16:9 format. From what I can see there are only 2 options...crop or stretch. Obviously crop provides the most satisfying end result unless of course you really need to keep all of the headroom in a 4:3 clip. The only way I have found to crop is using the pan/crop facility and use the 16:9 preset but it is a bit labour intensive if there are several clips and if keyframes are used as well. Stretch on the other hand can be done at a project level so is less hassle. So....2 questions. 1. Is there a quicker way to crop? 2. Does MS15 have any ability to control the horizontal dynamic stretching? Thanks
    • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
      Derek
      • Moderator
      · 10:58 21/01/2019
      Hi Mike
      NEVER use Stretch - that is complete sacrilege.
      You must crop a 4:3 video to convert it to 16:9 Aspect Ratio.
      There is a shortcut you can use, to speed up the process.
      After you have applied a 16:9 crop to your first video, right-click that video on the timeline and select COPY. Now select a new video that you want to apply the same crop to. If you have more than one video, you can highlight ALL videos first by holding down CTRL and selecting them.
      Now right-click on this new group of videos and select PASTE Event Attributes - all your crops and key-frames will be copied in one go.
  • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
    Vega · 11:21 13/01/2019
    Hello Derek,
    I use VEGAS Movie Studio 15 Platinum Steam Edition. Every time I use it the preview window is different.
    When I add a effect and wants to preview how it looks, most of the time half of the screen is rock solid and doesn't move. While tonight I only saw a square on top of the left corner move.
    I find it really annoying having to rendering every change I make to see how it looks. :P
    I really hope there is some help to get. Thank you.
    /Vega
    • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
      Derek
      • Moderator
      · 14:37 13/01/2019
      This is a bug with Vegas that only affects some people.
      A quick way to fix = Go to View/Window Layouts/Default Layout
      Also make sure you have the latest build version installed, which is #157.
      Go to Help/About to check this info.
      I don't know if Steam versions work differently for updating.
      You can get normal updates from this page here on my website:
      https://www.moviestudiozen.com/doctor-zen-faq/611-vegas-movie-studio-15-update-history
      • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
        Vega · 23:07 13/01/2019
        Thank you for the quick answer! Everything is up to date and I did the layout change. So I got like a black faded window almost 70% of the preview window. I had apparantly marked in there somehow wich made it "marked". Managed to unmark the preview screen so everything is visible again! Thank you again so much!
        /Vega
  • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
    Lauren · 08:25 14/05/2018
    Hi Derek,
    Hoping you can help me with this terrible problem that’s developed!! My display specs are now randomly stuck at 463x260x32 while my project is 3840x2160x32 at 29.970p. I’ve tried changing all kinds of settings but nothing will get the display specs to match the preview or project specs (as seen in the upper right hand preview screen). As a result, my 4K Video from the timeline is either not visible in the preview screen at all or simply won’t render: in the latter case the render will either crash (with a codec not supported error message) or the render will process (with a different template), only to have the picture be absent with a totally black screen in the final rendered video. I would immensely appreciate your help; after 12 hours of research I’m still stymied with a major deadline approaching Screen shot of the problem is attached. The only other thing I can think of is I just downloaded the latest Windows update to my computer the other night; can’t figure out specifically how this might have affected matters, however.
    Thanks very much for your advice.
    Lauren
    PS - Repeated control shift program restarts didn’t work, either. I am running MSP 15.0.
    • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
      Derek
      • Moderator
      · 09:16 14/05/2018
      Hi Lauren
      There is no screen shot attached to your message.
      I recommend you post your message on the MSZ Forum instead.
      There is unlimited room on the forum for uploading screen shots.
      The forum is free to join and easy to use.
      Just copy and paste everything you said into the forum and then I can reply there.
      https://www.moviestudiozen.com/forum/index
      Regards
      Derek
      • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
        BoxingFan20
        • Member
        · 10:55 14/05/2018
        Thanks, Derek. I just posted my question and photo to your forum.
        Lauren
  • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
    Jay · 23:14 19/03/2018
    Thank you SO much for this article. The super slow display was driving me NUTS ever since I first started using Movie Studio years ago. I just changed the quality of the display to Draft (FULL), and it's playing smoothly. You have no idea how relieved I am about this. All of those times getting frustrated in the past, and that's all I had to do.
    • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
      Derek
      • Moderator
      · 23:59 19/03/2018
      Cheers
  • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
    Laischa Ramirez · 10:33 07/01/2017
    System- MSI GT 72 6QD Dominator G
    Intel Core i7
    NVIDIA GTX 970
    16 GB of RAM
    128 GB SSD
    Windows 10
    My laptop is having strong lag issues when editing on Movie Studio Platinum 13. I have reinstalled it, but it didn't make a difference and I have also put the preview window to the lowest quality. The video that i'm making are 1080p gaming video so I understand that my computer has to work a lot more. However ,I have done over 10 videos already without no issue and it just now started to lag. Was do you recommend as the best solution for this problem.
    • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
      Derek
      • Moderator
      · 13:17 07/01/2017
      Hi Laischa
      If Movie Studio has suddenly started doing something different to what you are used to, I recommend you do a full reset of the program. This will default all settings and clean the temporary files cache. Instructions here:
      https://www.moviestudiozen.com/doctor-zen-faq/573-how-to-reset-sony-software-to-default-settings
      You will need to re-configure a few settings after the reset.
      Make sure the GPU is turned on after reset at Options/Preferences/Video/GPU Acceleration.
      Sometimes I have seen updates to the Nvidia Driver cause problems. In this case I manually rolled back to an older build version.
      Your SSD is only quite small, so it may be getting full. If it is full, there want be enough room for temp files to be stored.
      If your videos are being recorded with a different format/codec, that could also explain problem. In that case, you should try creating video proxies. I made a video about this here:
      https://www.moviestudiozen.com/free-tutorials/sony-vegas-pro/553-sony-vegas-zen-tips-3-preview-lag
  • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
    Benjamin · 17:52 20/12/2016
    System:
    Intel Core i7-4790k @ 4.00GHz
    NVIDIA GTX 970
    32GB RAM
    512GB M.2 SSD + 1TB WD Black
    DirectX 12
    Windows 10 Pro

    I have Sony Vegas 13 Pro and it has worked fine whenever I have used it. I record 1920x1080 @30FPS uncompressed AVI from my computer. I'm currently running into an extremely annoying problem where whenever I press the play button to begin playback of my loaded media, Vegas takes 10-15 sec before beginning playback. During this 10-15 sec period, Vegas appears to be using about 15% CPU usage but I cannot click on anything in the window. It doesn't help that in some places, the preview window only diplays one fram for about 20 sec of playback. I have made sure to turn on GPU Acceleration and have the preview window set to Preview Auto. I don't understand if this is a bug or I have some setting wrong. This is very annoying because it happens no matter where on my media I press play.
    • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
      Derek
      • Moderator
      · 21:23 20/12/2016
      If Vegas Pro 13 use to work perfectly OK with the same type of video and exact same settings, I would recommend you perform a full program reset. This will delete all the files from the Temporary Files Cache and reset all Settings to the same they were when you first installed the program. It is safe to do and will not delete any of your saved projects. You will have to go back in and change some of the settings like GPU acceleration afterwards.
      Instructions listed here:
      https://www.moviestudiozen.com/doctor-zen-faq/573-how-to-reset-sony-software-to-default-settings
      Which program do you use to record your videos with ?
      • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
        Benjamin · 05:27 21/12/2016
        I record using MSI Afterburner and NCH Debut. Although I have made a terrible error and understand why Vegas is running so terribly. It turns out it was compressed video so I apologize if I have wasted your time. I now realize that it was AVI compressed via MJPG.
        • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
          Derek
          • Moderator
          · 11:16 21/12/2016
          Thanks for the follow up These questions/comments never go to waste, because other users in the future will read this and be helped.
  • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
    Jesper · 23:24 02/09/2016
    Hi Derek,

    I got the Sony Vegas Pro 13.
    I shoot 4k footage with my yuneec typhoon H drone ( 4K 30fps ).
    There are no problems to watch these footage on my pc so far, however when i make a compilation with these movies then comes the stuttering. When i render and save the 4k footage i use these settings:

    I use match the project settings. ( Recommended )
    It says: XAVC S Long 3840x2160- 29.97p

    After this render the footage is a Mp4 movie. But when i play it most of the time it stutters in some parts. It is verry annoying,
    Can you tell me howe to fix this problem ?

    I put down a youtube link here so you can see my problem :ohmy:
    Start watching from 00:12 till 00:30 sec. You will see it i hope in the ocean.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUep7J93HbQ

    Sorry for my [color=red]bad[/color] english XD


    My PC Settings Are:

    Windows 10 Pro 64bit
    Intel Core I-7 4770 ( 8 Cpu's )
    Cpu 3.50 Ghz
    32Gb RAM
    Geforce GTX 760
    Direct-X version: 12


    • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
      Derek
      • Moderator
      · 02:03 03/09/2016
      Please copy and paste this question into the MSZ Forum, where there is more room for replies and screen shots.
      https://www.moviestudiozen.com/forum
      Please also take a screen shot showing your Project Properties for Video and upload to forum.
      It would also be good to see details about your source video. You can download this free app http://mediaarea.net/en/MediaInfo and then open 4K video from camera. Then take screen shot and upload to forum as well. Once we have all this information, then it will be easier to comment.
  • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
    David · 12:58 22/08/2016
    Hi Derek - I was trying out Movie Studio 13 Platinum and now I'm trying out Vegas Pro 13. I've noticed something in Vegas Pro very annoying: When I go to move the timeline marker, it's as if I'm trying to pull a ton of bricks; it moves (say from 0 to 10 secs) very very slowing. I pull the mouse to the right, but the timeline marker can't keep up. Not even close. If I click beyond the end of the last clip (which jumps the timeline marker) and then pull the timeline marker back to zero, it's fine. And then (as long as I don't release the mouse), I can drag it forward again at the pace of the mouse. As soon as I release the mouse, it's back to being a slug.

    The preview is fine. When I click the normal play button, no problem. GPU acceleration is on. I've got Win7 64 bit, Intel 6700K 4 Ghz processor, 16 GB RAM, etc. This was never a problem with Movie Studio platinum.

    Any ideas? Am I missing a setting somewhere? This is my first test project for Vegas Pro; there's only two clips and no effects.
    • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
      Derek
      • Moderator
      · 16:46 22/08/2016
      Vegas Pro and Movie Studio work very differently to all other video editing programs - much easier in fact.
      It sounds like you are trying to drag the Timeline Cursor on the Ruler - don't do this in Vegas!
      Always drag the timeline cursor inside of the actual timeline and it will move effortlessly.
      When you try to drag timeline cursor on the ruler, the program is trying to process all effects in real time, which is impossible.
      • Your comment will be reviewed by a moderator before it is published on the site.
        David · 17:07 22/08/2016
        Yes, I figured that out finally! Thanks... Ctrl-Drag (on the ruler) helps; it's doing something different - or inside the timeline as you say. That's the easiest. I guess I thought it worked the same as Movie Studio in this respect. Or Ctrl-Alt-Drag on the ruler turns off audio scrubbing. Then everything moves quickly.

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