A couple of weeks ago Sony Creative Software released a new edition of its flagship product, Vegas Pro. The application is a full-featured nonlinear editor for video and audio tracks built with the specific purpose of offering professionals and advanced hobbyists alike the playground for video post-production and multi-channel audio recording.
Sony Vegas Pro 10
sports an impressive rack of new features, one of the most important being the ability to edit stereoscopic 3D projects without the need of any add-ons or other tools. The developer built this version on top of the last version and improved support for closed captions and 50p and 60p projects, added image stabilization for video clips.
More advantages of the latest Sony Vegas Pro version consist in inclusion of audio event effects as well as support for GPU acceleration in the case of CUDA –enabled NVIDIA card. This proves to be a real asset as most of the CPU stress during AVC rendering is shifted to the graphical unit.
During our testing of the program we started with version 9 of the product as the current issue was not available at the moment and once the improved Sony Vegas Pro rolled out we continued our testing with it.
The new things brought by Sony Vegas Pro 10 do not include radical changes of the interface, so the same design featured by the previous version is present. Thus the transition from one edition to another does not carry any negative aspects for the long-term user. The differences, however, are visible at the level of menus as the new options cannot go unnoticed by professionals.
Because it is designed for professional use, the looks are quite disarming for the regular user, and even for the average video-editing aficionado. On the bright side, the developer puts at your disposal a set of interactive tutorials to get you initiated.
These cover the basics of the software (program overview, explanation of the timeline, editing on the timeline, saving the clip in a web-friendly format or adding media to the timeline) as well as audio and video tutorials (recording sound, capturing video, audio fade in/out, add video effects, crossfade, import video from AVCHD or XDCAM EX camcorders, reversing audio events or cropping, scaling and rotating clips).
The set of tutorials also go through project-wide endeavors, such as adding audio/video effects, customizing them or changing the project settings. Interactivity is extremely important for a beginner user and in this case Sony Creative Software did not hold back from any idea that could improve the learning curve.
Vegas Pro’s interface is highly flexible and allows comfortable management of all the panels you need for a project. You can create your own window layout, with docked panels accessible through tab system or snap the most important windows (like video preview and sound mixer) to the side, while everything else is tabbed to the other part of the application window.
The timeline is the central piece of the interface as it holds all the layers of the resulting file, be they audio or video. New about it is the fact that you can now combine multiple tracks into a single group, making management of all the items much easier. Automation settings have been reformed to a drop down menu, a very inspired move from the developer.
Equally important is the Trimmer
, which lets you work with one media file at a time. Working with data this way offers an improved perspective than editing the events in the timeline. It can be used to automatically overwrite the elements in the timeline as you make the changes.
As for the effects available in the program, a hefty set of video and audio plugins awaits. Compared to Vegas Pro 9, this edition brings only Stereoscopic 3D option to the video effects list. But even so, the package is a heavy one and comprises over 50 filters, most of which encompass at least three presets, totaling 200+ options.
Of particular interest is the Event Pan/Crop panel, which features some extraordinary tools that allow you to zoom in and out of a particular element in the video as well as rotate it, or create montages of overlapped videos running together. Every move you make is visible in the video preview window so you’ll be aware of your progress at all times.
Along with cropping or zooming, Event Pan/Crop window gives you the possibility to create masks using Bézier curves
. Combining this tool with blur or pixelate effects can result in some pretty awesome results like face blurring. Of course, you will have to apply the mask to each frame that shows the face and then work on the opacity levels to clear the masked area.
In the case of audio there are fewer options when it comes to effects, but the application manages to deliver some powerful means to mix or edit this type of tracks as well. Again, its flexibility comes into play allowing you to define an editing program of your choice to open the audio file. We used a product from the Sony Creative family, Sound Forge Audio Studio
, version 9, also provided by Softwarenet online store
. It contains the same amount of effects as Vegas Pro, but the entire editing process is much neater as the focus falls strictly on the audio track, with no elements to distract you.
Processing options in the program include two types of EQs (graphic and simple) to change the signal through increasing and decreasing the volume of various frequencies; panning and track normalization settings are also available. Among its special abilities you’ll find tempo modification or ACID properties editing.
Sony Vegas Pro’s video capture
skills are displayed in a different application window which, compared to the main interface of the program, is pretty simple to use. It lets you choose the device you want to record a video or still image with, in our case the test laptop’s built-in webcam, as well as camcorders.
The beautiful thing about video capturing is that it supports hot connecting DV devices, which means that you can plug in the device, turn it on or off whenever you want and video capture software detects the actions and reacts automatically.
On the downside, the moment we stopped recording the application would crash due to an exception error. The video would still be saved to the assigned location, though. With still images, on the other hand, everything worked perfectly.
Besides this error, Sony Video Capture also gave us some trouble while trying to open the exact clips it had recorded seconds earlier, which were saved as AVI. Trying with other AVI files led to the same result. We were successful only with opening project files associated with stills, since those for videos would not be stored because of the application crash.
The price, accounted for not only the sheer amount of video effects but also the myriad of options available in Sony Vegas Pro, will definitely draw regular users away from the suite. A much suitable program for them would be Sony Vegas Movie Studio
It is the abridged version of Vegas Pro, but equally powerful for producing high quality movies. It supports a huge gallery of video formats (HDV and AVCHD included) and offers reliable instruments for video compositing or color correction. Just like Vegas Pro it lets you share your work by burning the clips to DVD or Blu-ray discs as well as publish them to YouTube.
The limitations in Movie Studio are fine, but professionals will definitely notice the lack of scripting abilities, a slightly smaller number of video effects or that there is no mixing console available or Production Assistant
instruments designed to make working on your projects much easier, like lower thirds, montage and motion tools. All these are clearly aimed at professionals that need a wider array of packages to work with.
Sony Vegas Pro brings a huge package of tools and means to create professional-level media. By combining video effects, media generators and the Event Pan/Crop tool you can produce incredible footage.
However, testing the latest Vegas Pro 10 did not work out entirely flawlessly, because at one point we were unable to insert audio envelopes in the track. The option was enabled, but we just did not see the keyframe line (we did not experience this in version 9); but after a computer shutdown everything came back to normal. Also, crashing of the video capture utility after the clip was stored occurred in both version 9 and 10 of the application.The Good
Despite the fact that it is designed for professionals, Sony Vegas Pro comes suited with interactive help which explains the basics of the program; the tutorials also initiate the user by showing how different tasks can be done.
Production Assistant plays an important part if you want to complete your projects faster, as it lets you open up projects already customized with a template.
The interface is flexible and easily customizable, allowing you to create your own layouts and save them for later use. Support for scripting in C#, Jscript or Visual Basic .NET.
Image stabilization tool offers multiple profiles to choose from and three types of motion: pan/tilt, roll and zoom.The Bad
Our experience included constant crashes of the Video Capture tool at the end of clip recording. Also, AVI clips saved with the app could not be opened as they did not have a project file.
At one point in Sony Vegas Pro 10 we couldn’t add volume envelope; although the option was enabled, it would not appear on the track in the timeline.The Truth
Sony Vegas Pro is definitely not an instrument to play around with. Its cost, amount of filters, effects, options and features, all hint at the advanced user. Not all the options worked professionally during our tests, but for most of the trials the application dented a great impression.
Learning how to work with it is not an easy job, especially if you want to really get a glimpse at its potential, but this does not mean that it is totally inaccessible to the average user. The developer offers the full-featured suite for a period of 30 days, period that can be used to put in the balance the cost of the program, complexity of the features and the effort required to uncover its editing skills.