Sony Catalyst Edit

Whenever you hear about something new from Sony, you have to take notice. This time it's Catalyst Edit, part of the Catalyst Production Suite. Sony already has a good editing app in it's Vegas Pro software, so why this new addition?

According to Sony, Catalyst was created from the ground up to be different. It was designed from the ground up to work hand in hand with the new Sony cameras that shoot RAW and 4K formats. But it's not just for use with Sony cameras. You can import from many different formats including Blackmagic, Canon and GoPro, among others.

Unlike Vegas Pro, Catalyst is both PC and Mac compatible and has several pieces that allow for unique collaborations between production and post-production teams. However, it won’t necessarily appeal to everyone.

Different pieces

The Suite is comprised of Catalyst Prepare and Catalyst Edit. Prepare is the first step in the process and allows you work with your video directly from the source. You can log and label your clips, import them into bins, apply color correction and even begin rough editing. This is a great tool for the director or producer in the field to begin the post-production process.

As it’s not designed to replace Vegas Pro, Catalyst doesn’t come preloaded with all of the bells and whistles you might expect. 

As it’s not designed to replace Vegas Pro, Catalyst doesn’t come preloaded with all of the bells and whistles you might expect. However, does take advantage of OpenFX for additional transitions and effects and exports to other programs better suited to handle graphics and other post production tasks.

Sony has put a lot of thought into they way audio is handled. The suite makes it very easy to identify and label all of those audio tracks that higher-end cameras can record.

Putting It to the Test

The Suite does not have a tutorial, but if you're familiar with other editing programs, the interface is fairly simple. However, if you’re unfamiliar with other Sony video applications, we advise downloading the User's Manual when going through the installation process, as some of their conventions are unique to Sony software, and Adobe or Apple editors may experience a gradual, but noticeable learning curve.

After using Catalyst Prepare to import the video and saving it to bins, you launch Catalyst Edit and navigate to the bin. From this point the program is going to have a very familiar look and feel. The clips can be marked with in and out points by clicking and scrubbing or hitting "I" and "O" on the keyboard. You simply drag and drop the clips into the timeline and begin the process.

Transitions work exactly as they do in Vegas Pro. The way it’s handled is not a simple drag and drop between the clips like in most editing apps. In Catalyst Edit, you click on the clip and drag it to overlap the clip in front of it. This is nice because immediately you have a dissolve. At first this seems imprecise but the inspector window gives you more controls.

If you need another type of transition like a wipe or a additive dissolve, then it is more like other programs. The plug-ins from the Media Browser window get dragged into the transition.

Again, the Inspector window has lots of fine tuning, like frame accurate in and out points and transition length. This seems to be a little more intuitive than some programs.

Sony Catalyst Edit Inspector window.
Sony Catalyst Edit Inspector window.

It was a bit disappointing to find that Catalyst does not come with lower third or other text templates, but it does have a simple way to make basic titles. Clicking on the add button and title drops in a new clip in the timeline. Once again, the Inspector window is the key for easy adjustments for the font, size, positioning, shadow, outlining, transparency etc.

Sony Catalyst Edit with basic title.

We imported clips from a variety of different lighting conditions to see how the program can balance the shots. In the same manner as transitions, you select a plug-in to drag and drop over the clip. Catalyst comes with the essential video effects like brightness and contrast and color balance. These are also fine tuned in the Inspector window. With a simple click on the video settings button, a waveform window opens to make the process more precise. Balancing shots was quick and easy.

Audio channels are handled simply and precisely by opening Media Browser window and navigating to the correct bin on your computer. Drag and drop the audio to the timeline and make the adjustments in the Inspector Window. All your adjustment are made in real time.

Once the project is finished, the entire project can be exported to another application like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier or Sony Vegas Pro for final post-production. You can also render the project into it's final form like MP4. Because this is from Sony, you will find formats not found in other programs, such as XDCAM and Sony W64

Conclusion

If you need the flexibility of multiple camera formats, especially if one of those cameras is a Sony, with an environment that is designed for collaboration and the option of OpenFX, then Catalyst Production Suite is a viable choice.

Sony Creative Software
www.sonycreativesoftware.com
Price: $400

Strengths

  • Simple interface
  • Multi-channel audio with labeling
  • Accepts most formats
  • Easily-placed dissolves between clips

Weaknesses

  • Limited built-in effects
  • No tutorials

Tech Specs:

Catalyst Edit system requirements

Microsoft® Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 (64-bit) or Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or 10.11 (El Capitan)
NVIDIA®, AMD/ATI™, or Intel® GPU supporting OpenGL 2.1, OpenCL™ 1.1 or later with 512 MB video memory (2 GB for 4K) or a CPU with SSE 4.2 or higher
2 GHz processor (multicore or multiprocessor CPU recommended for HD; 8 cores recommended for 4K)
4 GB RAM (8 GB recommended; 16 GB recommended for 4K)
500 MB hard-disk space for program installation
SSD or high-speed RAID for 4K media

Jeff Chaves was trained in video production in the Army and has been involved in the industry for more than 27 years. He and his wife run Grace Pictures Inc.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It would be great if a publication like yours could get some pat answers from SONY Creative software about the future of Vegas Pro. Many users (myself included) are concerned SONY is more into building Catalyst and killing off Vegas Pro.

  2. There are plenty of free basic editors out there from Mac and windows imovie and windows mediamaker to videopad and other third party tools.
    Anyone who wants a job as an editor is on or will migrate to avid, adobe or apple so you are left with wedding videographers or newbies who bought a sony camera and thus went with vegas and soundforge etc by default.
    Given these do the job the only reason for catalyst is so Sony can introduce a subscription system and bill people monthly – cumulatively trebling or quadrupling their income by charging for software you already have just as Adobe has.
    And there is no incentive to deliver timely upgrades as the subscribers are paying regardless.
    Nirvana for Sony ,Adobe , Microsoft etc and money for nothing to the rest of us ..
    And their greed only grows – Adobe’s emails are always ‘sorry but despite making more money than ever we are going to increase your charges again’ – thats when they bother to prewarn you at all.
    I would advise Vegas people to put aside a compatible machine and backup everything sooner or later you are going to get cut loose and new business will be bled by a million cuts on a monthly basis.

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