In this tutorial I will show you how to set your Project Properties and Render Settings for making 720p HD Video, using Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12 64 bit Edition.
Overview of New Features which directly influence Rendering Performance
Just before I discuss 720p settings, it is worth understanding how the changes to Version 12 will improve your 720p Rendering Times.
With the new release of Movie Studio Platinum 12, Sony Creative Software has finally upgraded the software to include a 64 bit version of the program as well as the traditional 32 bit. 64 bit processing power means that your everyday Rendering times should definitely be faster than using the 32 bit version, if you are using a fairly up to date computer with a 4x Core CPU and at least 4GBs of RAM.
Additionally, Movie Studio Platinum 12 also has GPU Acceleration added to the rendering engine. For GPU Acceleration to work properly, you must have the right type of Graphics Card installed on your computer running the most up to date video drivers.
Setting your Project Properties for 720p
Movie Studio has an advantage over Vegas Pro, in that it includes a New Project Wizard which can help you to easily and quickly set your Project Properties before editing. You don't have to use it, but I do encourage that you do utilize it, because it has an added bonus of Automatically Generating folders for your new project.
The most important thing to set correctly in your Project Properties is the frame size and frame rate for the video that you will be importing into your project. If you have mixed media, just set it to what ever will be the most common video type in the project. If you are completely clueless, you can always use the "Match Media Video Settings" button (shown below), which will set everything to match your video. Just press the button - navigate to one of your videos - press once on top and lastly select OPEN.
Customizing your Rendering Settings
In Movie Studio Platinum 12 all the Internet Rendering templates are under Mainconcept AVC/AAC .mp4.
Hit the little triangle next to this Master Template and look for "Internet HD 720p". Press on top of this sub-template and then select "Customize" below the list of templates. In here you can set your Bit Rate, Frame Rate, Audio Quality and Encode Mode, as well as countless other settings.
The most important setting is your Bit Rate, because this determines the quality of your video. The general rule of thumb for setting your Bit Rate can be determined by the subject of your video. If your video contains fast moving scenes like racing cars or a sporting event, then set your Bit Rate high. If the subject is fairly stationary like a sit down interview with people, then you can reduce your Bit Rate quite a bit. Making your video file size as small as possible, is important when making videos that need to be uploaded to a website like YouTube or Vimeo - so always keep this in mind.
Finding the perfect Bit Rate settings that keep your file size low while maintaining a great looking image with no pixelation, is like searching for enlightnment - it is a never ending pursuit, because no two videos are ever the same.
GPU Acceleration - Encode Mode
There are only two video codecs that have GPU Acceleration added to them. One is Mainconcept AVC/AAC .mp4 and the other is Sony AVC/MVC .mp4. All other formats still require your CPU to do the heavy lifting.
At the very bottom of the customization windows for the above two codecs, is a setting called "Encode Mode". You have three options: CPU Only, Open CL or CUDA.
Land of the "ifs"
If you don't have a very good Graphics Card (GPU), then you will be forced to use "CPU Only" as the Encode Mode.
The next two settings relate to your GPU, and you can only choose one depending on which Brand of Graphics Card you have installed in your computer.
If you have an ATI Radeon card installed, then select "Open CL".
If you have an NVidia card installed, then use CUDA.
If you are not sure which brand Graphics Card is in your computer, just do a quick right-click on your empty Desktop. The list should have NVIDIA Control Panel or Catalyst Control Centre as an option. NVIDIA is obvious. Catalyst Control Centre means you have an ATI Radeon Card installed.
**Please note one observation about GPU Acceleration**
If you are buying a new computer that focuses on Video Editing, then I strongly suggest you lean towards getting an NVIDIA Graphics Card over an ATI Radeon Card. NVIDIA Cards are far more stable with all Sony Vegas and Movie Studio Software. The architecture of these cards works very well and I hear plenty of good reports back from many people.
However, not the same can be said for "some" ATI Radeon Cards. They use a different architecture which may cause some problems with the rendering engine and produce poor results. I stress that this applies to only particular models and not all. Like all software issues, I would guess that this is being looked into at this very moment.
Please watch the tutorial video below for full instructions on how to do this.