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Excalibur 4.5 Vegas Plug-In

COW Library : MAGIX Vegas : Jim Harvey : Excalibur 4.5 Vegas Plug-In
Excalibur 4.5 Vegas Plug-In

A Creative COW Product Review

Jim Harvey reviews: Excalibur 4.5 Vegas Plug-In

Jim Harvey Jim Harvey
JHV Digital
New York, USA

©Copyright 2005 Jim Harvey and Creativecow.net. All Rights Reserved
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In this article, CreativeCOW.net contributing editor Jim Harvey reviews Excalibur 4.5 Scripting plug-in for Sony Vegas and writes...''Ed Troxel is well known to anyone who has even a passing knowledge of Vegas. His program Excalibur is a marvelous plug-in that takes well-written scripts and allows the user to automate many different effects with the press of a key. Ed has done the work of writing, debugging, and finalizing the scripts so that you don’t have to.''


Earlier versions of Excalibur were nice, but had a limited number of things that could be done. Still, it was better than having to figure out how to write the script and then make sure it did what you intended.

The new version (4.5) takes a quantum leap forward in the scripting department. Not only can you create a nice little slideshow or check for gaps in your timeline, but now, you have at your fingertips the ability to create complex effects with a minimal amount of fuss. In the timeline menu alone, you can control events, gaps/overlaps, clips, markers and more (fig 1.)

Menu Screen for Excalibur 4.5
Fig 1. Menu Screen for timeline features of the new Excalibur 4.5

In fact, the new Excalibur has over 20 new features that take your footage and twirl it, slow it down, speed it up, overlap it, synch it up, resize it, split it, stitch it back together and more. This isn't simply a polished up version of old software. Rather it is a whole new package that really adds functionality to those who edit with VEGAS.

The big news is the Multi-Cam feature that allows you to work with multiple cameras
(Up to 9 cameras are available to you with many more variations possible).
Figure 2 shows the Multi-Cam being used with 4 cameras.

Excalibur Multi-cam at work
Fig. 2. Excalibur Multi-cam at work. Notice the Tally marker around camera 2. This indicates the “live” camera at that moment. Easily changed with a key press.


Using the Multi-Cam tool puts up multiple screens on the monitor with a tally light (a frame around the active camera) so that you can instantly know which camera is “live”. The switching is accomplished via markers, which can be switched on the fly as you are rolling the footage. The markers tell the program which camera is live at which point in the timeline. If you change your mind, simply change the number of the camera on the marker and the program will make the change for you. Very slick and easy to use. I have to add a caveat here. If you are using Vegas 6.0a, the above instructions will not work very well for you. You MUST upgrade to version 6.0b in order for the multicam function to work properly and with no issues. This is mentioned in the manual, but as you know, that's the last thing that anyone reads. Fortunately, I had access to Ed's secret Bat Phone and called him up whining like a baby. He was very polite and refrained from calling me a dunderhead. I pass this tip on to you so that you won't feel silly like some people. What I can say with authority is that when you do it correctly, it will simply amaze you as to how fast you can assemble your multicam shoot. I've said this before with other software, but this one feature alone is worth the price of admission.


Multi-Cam menu page
Fig 3. The Multi-Cam menu page of Excalibur 4.5.


To use Excalibur you simply select the clips that you want to apply a specific effect to and run the appropriate script in Excalibur (just a click of a button in the Excalibur interface). I had a little trouble at first as I was simply using the marker bar to highlight a group of clips rather than actually selecting them. Once I figured out that little point, everything else was smooth sailing. If you want to create a quick video wall with all of your clips, simply hit Ctrl>A and select everything. Excalibur then applies its magic to the clips almost instantly.

Excalibur 4.5 also has a very interesting tool called Time Bandit. From the Manual, Time Bandit allows you to:

  • Create extreme video speed-up effects without multiple renders
  • Speed-up or slow-down multiple video events as much as you want
  • Preserves event relationships when adjusting multiple events
  • Adjust audio event speed up to 400%
  • Choose any selection, region, or marker pair as the time range to adjust
  • Set the new length, percent change, or rate
  • See what you are about to change on the Vegas timeline as you select the time ranges
  • Have Photoshop CS-like scrubbing of the Adjusted Time Range label to set the new length.
  • Use the Keyboard (up/down arrow) support for changing the new length
  • Select the Adjustment Mode that you want to use or let Time Bandit use them all
  • Create a Time Lapse sequence by speeding up one or more events


Again, by using markers to define the range of your project, you can adjust the time of the selected clips. It's very nice to be able to stretch the audio as well. Something that was a bit kludgy before.

Speaking of the manual, it's refreshing that there is an included PDF that is readable and actually has instructions in it. Don't laugh; I've seen lots of manuals that are merely collections of electrons pasted randomly across my screen. Their connection to anything that I was trying to understand was tenuous at best. This manual is clear and concise and answers most of the questions that you may have when using Excalibur 4.5.

In Conclusion

If you're looking for an easy way to automate many of the process that you work with in VEGAS, Excalibur 4.5 is something that you need to give a serious look. Spend some time with the program and the manual along with some test clips and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to achieve some very impressive results. You can download a demo copy of the program at:

http://www.jetdv.com/excalibur/multicam.php

Anything that helps me do my job more easily and doesn't break the bank in the process is something that I'm always looking for. Excalibur falls right into that category.

5 Cows. Well done, bug free (as far as I can determine) and fast results.


©Copyright 2005 Jim Harvey | Creative Cow
All Rights Reserved


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