Videomaker's 2009 Best Video Editing Suite: Sony Vegas 9 Pro Video Editing Software Review

View all of the best consumer video production products of 2009, selected by the editors of Videomaker

What happens in Vegas, ends up online!

Sony Vegas 9 Pro is here and ready to take charge. Sony is telling us something; Vegas is here to shake things up! With a host of new features and functions, extensive import, capture and exporting options, Blu-ray Disc authoring, all new XDCAM EX and RED ONE support, plus improved AVCHD support, Vegas has improved and loyal users will rejoice once they get their hands on this one.

Looking Good!

Audiences tend to lean toward specific editing software based upon loyalty and a general understanding of how the workflow moves along. With this in mind, Sony has moved forward with a even more pro line look and feel to Vegas Pro. The first big eye grabber is the new layout of the timeline, sitting underneath the monitor rather than to the lower right. Which for those new to Vegas will feel just right and for loyal Vegas users the new layout will create a whole new feel and touch to their work flow. We liked the new feel and felt the similarity created a quicker work flow.

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The clips bin is now located in the top left of the screen with the usual project media, explorer, transition and media generator options. The filters take the center standing directly next door to the new trimmer window. The Timeline window takes the last spot on the top row furthest to the right side. The inclusion of the Trimmer Window allows Vegas users to finally enter the Pro arena. It feels like Premiere, but it still moves like Vegas. Cutting works the same way as last time around so it still feels intuitive to users that really appreciated the last interface. The new offering is quick to control and navigate, which we liked. Novices have nothing to worry about since Vegas now provides tutorials

What’s the new?

Vegas loyalists have a lot to look forward to this time around. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to Vegas or have been with them the whole way through, this time around Vegas presents a host of what Sony calls “enhanced native XDCAM and AVCHD support.” Accepting AVCHD with ease, even worked in the multi cam editor. Which, from our tests, generally chokes or crashes lesser programs. With Vegas the process didn’t slow, it never crashed and we never felt the need to desperation save our project due to the fear of losing everything. We tested editing two seperate AVCHD camcorders, with footage from two Sony FX7s. Just to try and push the limits of the multi cam editor option and how Vegas handles AVCHD. It held up all the same. For most of us, who are consumers moving in to a more professional landscape this was a huge benefit we thought. Especially since video is on it’s way out as a format, and AVCHD is becoming more common. It also natively took in MFX clips as we were able to drop them right in and start cutting away. Vegas is extremely unique in this regard as it can natively accept what seems like anything and it’s very easy to do so. Vegas can accept 4K files, which is impressive. However, it cannot edit in 4K. Do not be confused, nothing can at this point. RED ONE support does exist, but trying to view the files in full 4K ended up crashing the program.

Sony has also added six new lighting effects to the already impressive line up of filters and FX. Among them are glint, rays, defocus, starburst, soft contrast and fill light. For everyone across the board, these effects can be useful. Fill Light replicated inserting a giant Rifa light in front of a subject perfectly. And Glint offers a great professional touch to still, video and titles. We also really got a kick out of the Rays effect. Definitely a plus for wedding videographers. There are also a couple new impressive transitions of which, the Gradient Wipe section had to be our favorite. Including a few transitions that looked like splattered paint blotches, smoke escaping and floral growth.

Vegas beginnings are as an audio-only editor, so we knew that this time around the audio options would be pretty extensive. Full support for including a 5.1 surround sound track to projects. Vegas provides impressive audio-waveform drawing when recording and we found that due to how easy it was to work with the audio individually, it enhanced our abilities to sync together video and audio, creating a much faster workflow. Which again, we couldn’t complain about. The Mixing Console view is new to Vegas which is great addition for sound engineers and those with a background in music since it’s a very familiar application. Customization to all audio tracks is offered in three separate locations: per clips, per track and the master output. We found it easy to apply fades as well as volume envelopes. All of these solutions were nice because we could take care of our problems right away without having to search through the program.

It’s the Final Countdown

The ultimate alternative solution to FCP and CS3 is Sony Vegas. It is a little less costly, and a little more user friendly. From RED ONE support, to pro style filters, to the perfect audio customization Sony Vegas 9 Pro will make a lasting impression in the current line up of editing software.

Tech specs

OS: Windows XP SP2
(32-bit only)/Vista
(32- or 64-bit)

RAM: 1GB minimum

HDD Space Required
for Software Installation: 200MB

Formats Supported: Analog capture card,
DV25, DVD camcorder,
HDV, AVCHD, MPEG-4,
XDCAM MXF

Workflow

Batch Capture: Yes

User Interface: Timeline

Nesting Tracks: Yes

A/V Level Envelopes: Yes

I-Frame Editing of
MPEG Files: Yes

Surround Panner: Yes

Audio Scrub: Yes

Live Capture from Mic: Yes

Video Scopes: Yes

Effects/Rendering

Keyframe Animation: Yes

Background Rendering: No

VST Audio
Plug-In Support: Yes

Video Effect Plug-In Support:Yes

Chromakeying:Yes

Output

MPEG-2 Encoding: Yes

MPEG-4 Encoding: Yes

Audio: Output Formats PCM, Dolby Digital
2.0/5.1

Batch Render: No

Disc Authoring
Software Included: DVD, Blu-ray Disc

Direct upload to sites: No

Strengths

  • Really fun transitions and effects.
  • Transfer any file and it doesn’t induce a headache.
  • Great Multi Cam editor.
  • Handles AVCHD like a champ
  • Exporting SO easy.

Weaknesses

  • Source monitor a little weak

Summary

If CS4 intimidates you,try Vegas! It’s the easy alternative to FCP and Premiere. It makes editing feel simple, yet look professional.

Tom Skowronski is Videomaker‘s Associate Editor.

Sony Creative Software

1617 Sherman Ave.

Madison, WI 53704

www.sonycreativesoftware.com

$600

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.