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Sony Vegas 7

Sony Vegas 7
A Creative COW Product Review

Jim Harvey Reviews Sony Vegas 7

Jim Harvey Jim Harvey
JHV Digital
New York, USA
©Copyright 2006 Jim Harvey and Creativecow.net. All Rights Reserved
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In this article, CreativeCOW.net contributing editor Jim Harvey reviews Sony Vegas 7 and concludes, '...It Just Keeps Getting Better. For the money, you’d be hard pressed to find a better editing program.''



 

Those of you who have read my reviews over the years know that I was originally very resistant to the Vegas software model but ultimately was seduced by it and now am firmly entrenched in the Vegas camp. So it will come as no surprise that the newest incarnation of Vegas (7.0) will garner high marks. But this isn’t just about a good piece of software getting better, it’s about the infrastructure of the program itself. The people that you get to deal with and how you as a user are ultimately treated.

When Sony Acquired Vegas, there was that awful moment when the “true believers” were certain that the death knell of Vegas was at hand. Sony would Drop the Software, Gut it and make it wind up on the bargain shelf at Geeks-R-Us, alter the code that it was unusable, or hunt down all users and send them to reeducation camps. Well, happily, none of that came to pass. What DID come to pass was that Sony threw some very smart and talented people into a room somewhere and had them IMPROVE on the product. The resultant issues of Vegas bear that out. They were really first on the scene with real HD capability. Their user interface, while distinctly different from the other major players out there, was friendly enough that newcomers could get a handle on things while experienced editors could come up to speed in short order as well (after discarding some pre-conceived notions of how editing works.).

There are no real BIG changes in Vegas 7.0, rather small refinements that make the program nicer to work with while increasing your productivity.

The Production Bundle includes DVD Architect 4.0. With these tools, you are ready to edit in virtually any format, DV, HDV, SD/HD-SDI and all XDCAM formats. You also have the ability to author surround sound dual layer DVD’s as well.

Welcome additions to your toolkit abound in Version 7.0 such as the ability to extract audio from your CD’s (Supporting Gracenote MusicID™), which allows you to view CD information such as track, title, artist and song name. If you’re shooting with the New XDCAM cameras from Sony, you have complete support for all frame rates, aspect ratios essence marks and multichannel audio. Native editing of MXF files with no transcoding required as well as full resolution HD/ SD and proxy files. All of these can be mixed on a single timeline and then transferred back to XDCAM via iLINK, Network FTP or SDI.


Figure a.        XDCAM features of the new Vegas 7.0 leave little to be desired


Shooting with any other make or model of camera, be it HD, HDV or DV, Vegas 7.0 will still allow you to make the most of your footage with a minimum of bother and fuss.

With Vegas 7.0 you can now customize your docking window layouts and recall them at will. This will let you custom tailor a particular layout to your working style and recall it at the touch of a key. Vegas 7.0 allows you to save your “Top 10” layouts and organize them for quick recall. Not having to reconfigure the user interface each time is a real bonus. It is also much easier to re-arrange the window positioning so you can emulate the workflow of AVID, FCP and Adobe making transitioning to this platform much smoother.

If you are currently using Vegas, at first glance, you might not think that much has changed, but you’d be wrong. At almost every turn, some new little enhancement catches your eye. One of the things I really like is the improved snapping function. The color-coded snap line makes working with multiple tracks a real “snap” (please no letters!)


 

Figure b. Vegas 7.0 uses color-coded snap lines for increased accuracy

Another nice addition is the ability to display individual media markers on a particular event on the timeline. This enables the editor to quickly identify key points on an otherwise complicated timeline. You can open any clip in the trimmer and define either a marker or region. The resultant tag will show up on the timeline and allow you to locate any particular clip with little trouble.

 

Figure c.  Opening Clips in trimmer allow for scene/region/edit identification.

Other enhancements abound. Not only can you render projects to your PSP device, but there are also templates to render projects to iPODS (AVC/AAC support). An obscure but very helpful addition is support for ATRAC 3 files. Previously, you needed to go through some hoops to transfer Mini-Disc and HI-MD files for use in a project. ATRAC .aa3 support allows you to edit these files and re-encode to the original format. In keeping with the emerging technology, and recognizing that Vegas has unparalleled audio tools, even Broadcast Wave (.bwf) files can easily be handled. If you are recording to a hard disk audio recorder (Nagra, Mackie, Tascam). You can work with these files seamlessly. Vegas 7.0 recognizes the time stamp and places them correctly on the timeline. Audio people will LOVE this feature!

If you go for the Production bundle package, you will also get the new DVD Architect 4.0. DVD Architect is one of the easiest DVD authoring programs that is out there. With each release, Sony has added more and more features and functionality to the program. You can author a simple play it once DVD or go all out with multi menu discs, motion and graphics galore. With these two programs, you will have all the tools you need to produce professional projects in a minimum amount of time. The streamlining that has been put into Vegas 7.0 is something that you are going to appreciate and enjoy.

While you can literally install the package on your computer and be up and running within minutes (certainly less than a half hour). It’s that intuitive. If you want to take full advantage of all the features that Vegas 7.0 offers you will have to spend some time with the manual. But it’s so well written that you won’t be holding your head and looking for the aspirin. The online help files are well organized and can actually find the answers to your questions.

Is it perfect? Of course not, but clearly, Sony has put the effort into improving the product every edition since the takeover. I really believe that they are listening to the people who use the product and are trying to implement features that are asked for. They don’t sit around with an old product and rest on their laurels. New builds are released regularly that address the inevitable issues and gremlins that pop up in any software package. They ARE listening!


In Conclusion

For the money, you’d be hard pressed to find a better editing program. Beginner and intermediate editors can add the other half Cow. More experienced users are going to always want just a little bit more.

Sony Vegas 7.0 (latest release as of 11/25/06 7.0b) 4 ½ COWS


©Copyright 2006 Jim Harvey | Creative Cow
All Rights Reserved


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