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This is Sony Vegas Zen Tips #3 and today I am explaining why the Preview Window lags so much and how to fix it using many different techniques.

So why is my Preview Window lagging so much, when I’m trying to edit my project? Well before I answer this, everyone needs to realize that all Video Editing programs suffer from some degree of lag or dropped frames – this is normal.

When a video is playing back in the Preview Window, it isn’t simply playing back like a video does on your computer or TV. It is actually being de-compressed in real time, with millions of computations occurring in your CPU and Graphics Card every second.

The more a video has been compressed, the harder it will be to de-compress it in real time. That’s why video from a GoPro camera can be lagging like crazy, because it is super compressed. Whereas on the other hand, you may have a super large un-compressed AVI video playing, that plays back buttery smooth in the Preview Window.

When you are playing back video in the Preview Window, often you have many different video tracks all playing at once and some of those tracks also have VIDEO FX applied. That is lot of different information that needs to be computed into 25 or up to 60 frames per second! There is a really easy way to understand all this. How long does your computer normally take to render a 5 minute video? Let’s say it takes 10 or 15 minutes.

When your Preview Window starts to lag, it is because you are expecting your computer to magically do in real time, what actually takes at least two to three times that amount of time to do!!

So what are the solutions to making video less laggy in the Preview Window?

What can you do to at least take the load off a little and get the Preview Playback to be more smooth.

Solution #1: Adjust the Preview Window quality settings

Don’t set to Best & Full – that’s asking the impossible for most computers. PREVIEW OR GOOD are better options and if you also set to Automatic, Sony Vegas will choose what works best.
And remember, you don’t have to freak out. The Preview Window does not affect your final rendered video. It is just a temporary setting for while you edit.

Solution #2: Use the inbuilt Proxy Video Creation Tool

Inside Vegas Pro 13 and Movie Studio Platinum 13, you can create Video Proxies in the Project Media tab. This feature renders out easier to play video versions of all your video clips, which will make them much, much easier to edit with.

Right-click a video in the Project Media tab and select Create Video Proxy.

For the easier to play proxy versions to work, it is important to set the Preview Window to Draft or Preview - this will tell Vegas/Movie Studio to play only the proxies versions.

Set the Preview Window back to Good or Best and then the original HD versions of your videos will play instead.

Solution #3: Create your own Video Proxies outside of Vegas

If you are using an older version of the Vegas or Movie Studio, which don’t have the in-built proxy tool, you can create your own Video Proxies before you begin editing. I actually have an older tutorial that explains how to do this here:

How to do Proxy Video Editing using Sony Vegas and Movie Studio - Zen Method

Solution #4: Use GoPro Studio to create Cineform.avi Videos

If you install an old version of GoPro Studio, it will allow Vegas to render videos using Cineform codec. Cineform codec is one of the best formats to edit video with, because it is a relatively uncompressed format. Read this tutorial here.

Solution #5: Selectively Pre-Render Video

You can selectively pre-render parts of your timeline into small video chunks. This makes it much easier to scrub through your timeline.

If you want to know more about all of these options, join me now in Sony Vegas and I will quickly show you exactly what I have been talking about.

Solution #6: Turn ON GPU Acceleration in Preference Settings

If you have a compatible Graphics Card, please make sure you have it turned on here:

Go to Options/Preferences/Video/GPU Acceleration of Video Processing


The information in this tutorial applies to all versions of Sony Vegas Pro and Sony Movie Studio Platinum.


Buy the latest version of Vegas Pro here !

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About Derek Moran
Derek Moran is the author of all articles on Movie Studio Zen.
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