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Edit Review — Sony Vegas 6

With Vegas 6 Sony Media Software continues its tradition of improving features while continually developing a robust software system. If you’ve never used the Vegas NLE before, it’s a little different from some other timeline editors. The interface design was extracted directly from the Acid Pro product that, like Vegas, was developed by Sonic Foundry. Sony Vegas takes a little getting used to and some exploration to find out where everything is, but once you’re comfortable you’ll find a powerhouse editing system that is speedy and packed with features.

Vegas 6 now offers a media manager that automatically examines your entire hard drive and catalogs all your audio and video clips for easy searches and exploration.

This new version of Vegas supports HDV, and it’s great to be able to edit the format directly within the software. (To edit HDV, the previous version required the separate Cineform Connect HD software, which is now incorporated into Vegas 6.) Be aware that you do this through conversion via an intermediate codec. Editing in HDV requires capturing and converting, editing in realtime, then converting again during export. Vegas does all this work, but you also can look toward third-party solutions, as Vegas can be set up to accept external capture/conversion programs. The program now has built-in support for SD and HD decks via Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink boards.

Also new in this version is advanced support for multiprocessor systems, hyper-threading, and multicore machines. I tested Vegas on a Pentium Extreme Edition system, which features a dual-core CPU and hyper-threading, and everything ran nice and speedy. In any case, Vegas has built-in hooks to downgrade the preview screen automatically to keep the frame rate up, so really most systems, old or new, can work with Vegas.

Vegas now incorporates the Sony Media Manager from Acid Pro. It really does a great job arranging and cataloging all your files. I use Acid Pro all the time, and I was aware of the media manager but never got it up and running. Then one day I decided to move all my Acid loops to my hard drive and set up the media manager so everything was cataloged and searchable. Boy, was I glad that I did. The media manager is pretty close to brilliant — it’s a fantastic tool for dealing with large amounts of media. It makes it infinitely easier to search and track not only video clips but also Sony’s collection of audio loops. They’re tagged with all kinds of sorting information (Acid metadata), so it’s easy to track these files as well. You can preview thumbnails of your footage and also add metadata to any newly captured clips.

I love the fact that Vegas now supports VST and DirectX audio plug-ins. If you do a lot of audio editing, chances are you have amassed a good group of plug-ins. Now you can pop them right into Vegas 6 and process audio from within the program. If you haven’t yet dipped your toe in these waters, a quick web search shows that there are lots of free VST plug-ins out there. I always punch up audio with a compressor plug-in and level things off using normalization and EQ plugs. Now I can do more audio within Vegas, rather than having to jump over to a program such as Adobe Audition or Sony’s Sound Forge.

Also new is support for the Broadcast Wave format. You can now work with these industry-standard audio files just as you would with any other clip.

Speaking of audio, there is a new audio scrubber in Vegas 6 that works fantastically well. If you come from a broadcast background, you know that there is nothing quite like the tactile feel of scrubbing audio with a knob or deck control. The tape-style audio scrubbing in Vegas literally feels like you are scrubbing a tape. It is silky-smooth, feels natural, and it’s highly accurate. Another new feature is project nesting, which lets you take all audio and clips and slip them into a Vegas project package. Then take that package and add it to another project, applying effects and generally treating the first project just like a clip.

I have been following this program’s progress since the days when it was actually two programs, Vegas Video and Vegas Audio. Now we’re up to Vegas 6, and the program has really developed into a powerful editing tool. Initially it was best for people who were already using Acid Pro and wanted to extend their work into the video realm, mainly because the user interfaces are so similar. At this point, though, the program stands on its own as a very useful realtime editor. But Sony needs to do more work to make HDV editing smoother and more integrated. Users have several choices for editing HDV, and I think Vegas needs to step up if it wants to capture the HDV crowd.

I do like how speedy the program continues to be. It seems to be getting faster all the time. Of course it intelligently scales down its playback quality depending on your hardware, so whether you use last year’s laptop or this year’s dual-core system, you’ll be pretty pleased with the results.

One gripe I have always had with Vegas is the interface: It needs to be redone. If it really worked better that those of other NLEs, I would say keep it. But it’s an unwieldy maze of screens and tabbed sections that are far bigger than they need to be. You’ll find yourself swapping to different screens and moving windows around even on larger monitors, and there is really no need for that. If everything were smaller on screen, workflow would improve. You could keep several things up all at once and monitor them. Sony has done a great job adding features and fine-tuning the program, but Vegas is long overdue for an interface overhaul.

As an editor, Vegas 6 continues to shine. It has the power and effects to get the job done, with realtime response and support for standards such as VST and DirectX. Now it has support for multiprocessor systems and hyper-threading, hooks to run SD and HD decks, built-in solutions for HDV editing, excellent media management tools, a great scrubber, and much-needed project nesting. For just about any job, Vegas is a tool that won’t let you down.

BOTTOM LINE

Company: Sony Media Software
Madison, Wis.; (608) 256-3133

Website:www.sonymediasoftware.com

Product: Vegas 6

Assets: Faster performance, excellent media management.

Caveats: HDV editing requires use of an intermediate codec.

Demographic: Windows editors who want to do audio work in NLE software.
Price: $479.96;
$449.96 as download

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