Company: Sony Creative Software
Pros: Now includes 32-bit effects rendering. Multi-camera editing. Powerful vector-based titling. Greatly improved audio tools including a mixing console.
Cons: The 32-bit editing mode slows editing and rendering performance. The interface remains unchanged and unexciting. DVD Architect Pro 4.5 isn’t a major update.
Although it hasn’t managed to topple video-editing incumbents such as Adobe Premiere Pro just yet, Sony’s Vegas is developing nicely. Version 8 doesn’t look that different to the previous iteration when first loaded, now officially compatible with Windows Vista. But Sony has been doing some major renovation under the hood.
One of the most significant enhancements is the new processing engine. Now you can choose between the original 8-bit and a new 32-bit floating point precision processing mode. Turn the latter on, and the dynamic range of your video noticeably improves. This also complements the support for 10-bit video captured with AJA’s SDI cards. However, rendering time in 32-bit mode also increases and preview performance is reduced. It’s worth noting, too, that Premiere Pro has offered 32-bit processing for some of its filters since version 2.
It’s a similar story with Vegas’ new Multi-camera editing abilities – Premiere Pro and Avid Liquid have had this ability for a while. But Sony’s method is relatively easy to use, so long as you read the instructions carefully. Up to 16 tracks can be synchronized and cut between, either by using numerical keys or simply clicking on the camera angle you want during real-time preview.
The Media Generators tab has a new resident in the shape of the ProType vector-based titler. This is a powerful text-creation tool with some features in common with Adobe After Effects, including splined paths and per-character animation.
We wish it had a colour picker rather than hue and saturation sliders, but it is possible to create some amazing text effects.
Vegas has improved format support at every stage of the editing process.
A very niche new addition is the ability to edit in portrait mode – useful for digital signage where displays are oriented in this mode.
You can now also edit video files from the new AVCHD camcorders. We had no problems pulling in M2TS transport stream files that had initially been shot on a Sony HDR-SR8E. The support for XDCAM has been improved with the addition of FAM mode trimmed conform. This allows you to pull in portions of a file on a Blu-ray disc directly from a camcorder, without having to copy over the entire file. You can also burn the editing timeline to a video-only Blu-ray disc in either AVC or MPEG-2 format.
There’s a selection of audio improvements, too. A channel-based audio mixer has been added, with the ability to route busses to assignable effects or multiple sends.
You can also now specify tempo characteristics for your project, so that tempo-aware audio plug-ins can use the information. On a more prosaic note, Vegas can now open and render out FLAC files.
Vegas’ companion optical disc authoring tool DVD Architect Pro, bundled with the editing software, has also been upgraded to version 4.5. However, the improvements here are much more modest. Apart from support for FLAC files, the major addition is a collection of 44 new professional design themes – handy for rapid disc production.
Although DVD Architect Pro 4.5 isn’t a major update, Vegas 8 itself has plenty to make it worth the upgrade. It now matches the Adobe and Avid competition for most major features, and, priced between Premiere Pro and Liquid, it’s great value for an all-in-one editing and authoring suite.