There are a number of video editing packages out there, from the simple Windows Media Maker to industry standards like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut. Sony’s contribution is Vegas Video and like most Sony products, it offers an original take on the editing genre.
Vegas actually began as an audio editing app and it shows – the entire feel of the program is more like an audio editing program than conventional video editing programs. On the plus side, Sony has emphasised giving users the greatest control over soundtracks and audio tracks to ensure that your film sounds great.
Sony Vegas Video 7.0 includes an entire suite of tools – Vegas itself as well as DVD Architect 4 to help you burn films and Dolby Digital AC3 coding software to enable you to offer broadcast quality sound in your productions. Vegas allows you to edit DV, HDV, SD/HD-SDI, and all XDCAM formats in real time and even give them surround sound. As HDV starts to become more popular, the ability to edit this particular format means that for some users, it’s their preferred editing package by default.
The video timeline works on a typical Windows drag-and-drop principle where you can add a myriad of effects to video and audio, cutting and splicing it with ease. However, as mentioned earlier, the interface is tailored more for audio than video editing. Unlike Windows Movie Maker or Adobe Premiere, the actual video preview window of what you’re working on is given little space, being tucked away in the corner. This is rather annoying when you’d rather see a decent preview of what you’re creating than have the timelines dominate the screen.
However, one nice feature of the layout is that the interface can be customised according to your preference. You can save these configurations so that for different projects, you can have different layouts. This is especially useful if you’re trying to concentrate on one particular aspect of your film such as special effects or rendering options. You can even create your own keyboard shortcuts, a handy option for those who are mouse-shy.
The audio features are first class though. Sony Vegas was one of the first to support 24 bit audio as well as 5.1 surround sound – usually the preserve of professional editing programs such as Avid. To add surround sound, you’ll need to use the Dolby Digital AC3 software. Another excellent Sony idea has been to add a network connection to other PCs during installation. So for example, if you’re working on a project with a friend, you can edit seamlessly in real-time together.
For creating really cool titles, Vegas now features the Sony ProType titler (available in the Media Generators tab) which allows you to make some really swanky looking graphics. There's also new digital signage support which allows you to create rotated projects for viewing on a vertical or inverted display. Encoding has also been improved with support for 10-bit video encoding when previewing or capturing from AJA SDI video cards.
Vegas is never going to compete with prosumer programs based on the traditional Avid way of editing. For those used to such programs, the interface could prove too awkward, limited and confusing to make editing video a pleasure. However, as regards sound, it can’t be touched. For many users, it makes the perfect package to polish the soundtrack on their film after editing it in another package. Be warned also that if you’re unfamiliar with video editing programs, it's going to take a while to get accustomed to Vegas, so the bundled tutorial is highly recommended.
Recent changes in Sony Vegas Video:
* Added support for reading 1920x1080 AVCHD video. 1920x1080 AVCHD files created by Panasonic camcorders are not currently supported.
* Improved audio gain in AAF import and export: if the AAF clip volume is constant and is less than 0.0dB, the clip volume is imported as event volume. If the AAF clip volume is greater than 0.0 dB, the track volume is increased to allow the clip volume to be imported as event volume.
* Added support for 50p and 60p MXF formats created by XDCAM EX Voyager software.
* Added support for reading WAV files between 2 GB and 4 GB in size and added a setting to allow WAV renders up to 4 GB before switching to WAV64. Select the Allow Wave renders up to 4 GB check box on the General page of the Preferences dialog to enable support. Clear the check box for compatibility with other software applications.
* Added the ability to render 5.1 surround to WAV and WAV64 file formats (including new rendering templates). Rendered surround files contain channel-mapping information so that Vegas will preserve surround panning information when adding these files to 5.1 surround projects.