Videomaker’s Best Video Editing Software of 2007. It’s Vegas Baby!
Sony’s newest version of its pro-line editing suite offers professional quality, in-depth controls and an intuitive design. Plus, it comes packed with a high-quality DVD authoring program, as well as an AC-3 surround-sound encoder. Sound too good to be true? Let’s open it up and find out.
Opening up the blue box, we pulled out the paperwork and got straight to the main contents. Once the installation was complete, we were quickly informed that there is an update (8.0a, 113MB download). Based on past experience, we know that keeping the program updated is very important. We also updated DVD Architect to 4.5a (72.1MB download). Both updates took only a couple of minutes to run.
With everything in place, we opened the program and noticed right away the location of the timeline now defaults to the bottom of the screen, which differs from earlier versions of Sony Vegas. Other than that, the appearance is very much like previous versions. We’re now ready to give it a test drive.
We tested the program on a Dell XPS system with a 3.0GHz Dual Pentium processor. The minimum system requirements say you need at least a 1GHz processor with 1GB of RAM. And you should keep a fair amount of room on your hard drive for video storage.
We captured a few minutes of video, using the video capture interface. It’s easy to use and recognized our media source right away. The controls and options in the video capture window include video type (DV or HDV), batch capturing and scene detection. You can be as basic or advanced as you need to be. OK, let’s get to the editing.
Dropping video onto the timeline is as simple as you would expect: just drag and drop it in. Right away, we noticed that editing is quick and easy, with little need to change tools. Each video clip contains a pan-and-zoom tool, as well as an effects tool. Using the effects tool affects only that clip. You can also apply effects to the entire track.
Along with the usual slew of effects and color-correction tools, there are a few we’ve seen before that are fan favorites. The Sony Film Effects creates the look of old film, and the TV Simulator gives your video the appearance of a television that is being filmed by a video camera. Perfect for cool, futuristic, sci-fi projects.
One feature of interest (event videographers, take note) is the multicam feature. When you shoot a project with multiple cameras and import it into the project, you can switch and edit between camera shots with the click of a mouse. Just watch the multiple video sources in the preview monitor, and click on the one you want to be live.
Adding titles in Sony Vegas 8 has now become much more than basic, thanks to the new ProType Titler, a powerful titling program built right into Vegas. Now you can animate your titles without having to use an external program. The interface is pretty simple to use and comes with a nice array of presets that you can modify or use as is.
Once the video is completed, you can render it to an extensive list of formats, including MP4, WMV, MPEG, MOV and AVI, up to HD 1080-24p YUV.
New in Sony Vegas 8 is the ability to burn to a Blu-ray Disc directly from the timeline. You need a Blu-ray burner, of course. Additionally, Sony Vegas 8 Pro has added support for another bleeding-edge technology. We were able to import some raw M2TS files that originated on a Hitachi DZ-BD7HA Blu-ray Disc camcorder. This means that editors can finally get their hands on AVCHD footage (M2TS files) without having to transcode or capture from the camcorder itself. This is the one of the first professional editing software titles we’ve seen to do this, and we’re hoping others will come along.
OK, we know we’re editing video, but Sony Vegas 8 comes equipped with enough audio tools to also pass as a multi-track audio editor. While it doesn’t quite compare with audio editing giants such as Pro Tools or Logic, it will definitely be sufficient for your video audio needs.
Editing the audio in the timeline is almost identical to editing the video. You can add volume envelopes for visual volume adjustment. You can also adjust the volume in real time and record your adjustments for automation. The real-time audio effects can be added at the track, bus and master level. However, if you want to add said effect to just a single clip, you can only do so in a non-real-time fashion. This clip-level issue is just a nuance of Sony Vegas 8 Pro. Having the real-time effects on the higher levels provides a method of applying effects in a layer fashion, which can increase your editing efficiency, especially for multi-track editors. Sony Vegas 8 comes with all the basic audio effects, including EQ, Reverb, Noise Filter, Delay and about 40 others. The program also recognizes VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plug-ins, which means that you can get all those cool expensive audio plug-ins, such as the Waves Mercury bundle, and use them right in your video program.
Vegas 8 recognizes the most common audio formats, such as MP3, WMA, AIFF and WAV. It can also render your project to the same formats. The newest and coolest format for audio render is Dolby Digital AC-3 for those cool surround-sound DVD projects.
The Final Word
Sony Vegas 8 operates seamlessly without guesswork. It is a powerful, stable program that provides everything a video editor would want and need, from beginner to pro. We’d like to see Vegas become a little more aesthetically pleasing, perhaps offering the option to darken the interface, but maybe that’`s the artist in us coming out.
OS: Windows XP SP2 or Vista
Minimum CPU:1.0GHz (2.8GHz for HDV recommended)
Minimum RAM: 1GB
Minimum Hard Drive Space for Installation: 200MB
Capture Formats: DV, HDV
Batch Capture: Yes
Number of Video Tracks: Unlimited
Number of Audio Tracks: Unlimited
Nesting Tracks: Yes, project nesting
Audio/Video-Level Envelopes: Yes
Audio Scrub: Yes
Keyframe Animation: Yes
Background Rendering: No
Real-Time Software Previews: Yes
Optimized for Dual Processor/HyperThreading: Yes
Third-Party Plug-In Support: Yes
Encoding Formats: AA3, AC3, AIF, ATRAC, AVC, AVI, FLAC, MOV, MP3, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, M2T, M2TS, Sony MXF, OGG, PCA, RM, W64, WAV, WMA, WMV
DVD Authoring Software Included: DVD Architect 4.5
Trial Version Available: 30 days
- Powerful audio editing
- Comprehensive interface
- AVCHD support, M2TS import
- No significant weaknesses
Sony Vegas 8 is powerful, intuitive and perfect for anyone wanting to edit video, beginner or professional.
Brent Holland is a wedding/event video producer and owner of a video production company.
Sony Creative Software
1617 Sherman Ave.
Madison, WI 53704