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One of the things that I like about the Sony Vegas series is that they don't rush out and release new versions willy nilly. A version will come out and as people use it and feedback is received, updates will be issued to enhance or correct things in that particular release. All the while, the engineers and coders are working on the next version based on industry events and user input. The evolution of feature sets in Sony Vegas has been extremely timely and cohesive.
The new release, VEGAS PRO 9 offers a host of new features starting out with the most obvious, the user interface. The interface opens with a darker palette (the previous version was a lighter color which many people changed manually to lessen eyestrain and be more neutral in a darkened edit suite). While I personally didn't find the older colors to be bothersome, I must admit to liking the new look. On my 24" monitor, this color scheme seems to work nicely.
Fig. 1. The new interface has a darker screen that is more neutral and easier on the eyes.
There are also a couple of new layout options that have been added to customize the setup depending on the task at hand. Audio Mixing and Color Correction are specifically targeted at those tasks. Additionally, as always, you can further customize your layout to reflect your workflow preferences and save that scheme.
Fig. 2. Custom Layouts for Audio Mixing (above) and Color Correction (below) simplify workflow.
Fig. 3. Color Correction Layout allows the use of a full range of Tools such as Vectorscope, Waveform, Histogram and more.
There are numerous smaller enhancements to navigation and workflow methodology that while in and of themselves aren't earth shaking, do make for a more streamlined workflow and create an easier user interface for editing tasks. Using certain keyboard combinations in conjunction with the mouse, you can pick different edit tools on the fly.
Those that use the Sony XDCAM EX and AVCHD formats will find that the new device explorer window will allow them to rapidly view and selectively import files directly to the timeline without the need for conversion. This gives a big boost time wise for the editor under pressure of deadlines. The clean interface also makes a big difference in working with these files.
In the other direction, users of VEGAS PRO 9 can now capture video from an SDI source directly to an XDCAM Compatible MXF file. These files follow the XDCAM standard and are easily archived or used on the Vegas timeline immediately. It is enhancements such as this that clearly indicate that Sony is committed to future development of the VEGAS PRO series NLE. Their ability to keep abreast of new innovation and implement it in their software speaks well of their direction and should give users or potential users that extra bit of comfort to know that their edit software isn't going to be abandoned or left to languish. Right there is the price if admission in my opinion.
I'm not an audio guy and I rarely have to sync audio to video, but I can tell you that the audio guys that I do know all love the ability of Vegas to sync up audio precisely. The Non-Quantize edit option makes it a simple matter to place audio exactly where the editor wants it without having to fiddle around when trying to sync audio to various video events.
Probably one of the bigger additions is VEGAS PRO 9's ability to natively process and work with RED ONE(TM) r3d files. Support for all frame rates and resolutions is built in and the complete editing process can be accomplished from the VEGAS timeline. Red files can be layered out and exported to Open EXR or DPX format for transfer to a film printer or other graphics based process. If you shoot in 4K, VEGAS PRO 9 can handle those projects as well. Coupled with BLUR-RAY Disc Authoring (TM) VEGAS PRO 9 can easily fit into any broadcast production work.
What's more is that support for those formats is already onboard as well as support for Microsoft HD Photo gives you as an editor to have more freedom to work with color correction and effects. With the added large image support, huge images are no longer a problem (gigapixel resolution). This is extremely important with the advent of today's megapixel cameras to be able to work with very large images affords the editor with more flexibility in creating sequences, cropping without the loss of resolution in HD projects and targeting the exact portion of the image that is needed. With the new functionality, it is unlikely that you will be able to feed VEGAS PRO 9 and image that it can't process.
Figure 4. Hi resolution Photos are easily handled in VEGAS PRO 9.
Fig. 5. Being able to tightly crop high resolution images with no loss of quality is a big bonus for editors when doing pan and scan work.
Fig. 6. The new Starburst Filter make adding highlights to some footage one click simple.
Effects have also been enhanced with six new lighting effects. Glint, Rays, DeFocus, Starburst, Fill Light, and Soft Contrast are self explanatory and can bring up marginal footage to express more depth and feeling. Keyframing these effects can add subtle or not so subtle effects to your footage. Not having to rely on third party packages makes your edit that much faster as you can work directly inside VEGAS PRO 9 to get the results you need. You can refer to their website for a demonstration of the new plug-ins so you can see for yourself how effective these new tools can be for your project. Check this link: http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/vegaspro9/lightingeffects
If you've followed my evolution with Vegas then you know that I am an enthusiastic supporter (actually a convert if the truth be told) of the software. I enjoy seeing this amazing piece of software evolve and improve with each new version. I know that there are still those who may be skeptical of the ability of VEGAS to operate in a professional environment or to deliver results on a par with other well known applications. To those unfortunate few, I can only say that ignorance is curable, stupidity is permanent. Sony VEGAS PRO 9 should get 5 cows simply for being as good as it is and as affordable as it is. If you are thinking of buying for the first time, upgrading or changing systems, you owe it to yourself to take a close look at what is offered in VEGAS PRO 9. You will be assured of a sophisticated package that will handle everything that you can serve it and never hiccup. If you're a beginner, this package is simple enough to get you started on the RIGHT path in terms of editing procedures and project construction. If you are an established professional, give this package a look and shake the dust out of your head and see where you can improve your workflow dramatically while delivering exceptional quality in a finished product. That translates into more money for you and happier clients which translates into more work for you, see the progression?
Just listing the supported formats will take a couple of paragraphs, but it's well worth it to mention. Here goes:
VEGAS PRO 9 will open AA3, AAF, AIF, ASF, AU, AVI, BMP, BWF, CDA, DIG, DLZ, DPX, DV, EXR, FLAC, GIF, HDP, IVC, JPG, M2T, M2TS, MOV, Sony MXF, MP3, MP4, M4A, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 VIDEO, OGG, OPMA, PCA, PNG, PSD, QT, R3D, SFA, SND, SWF3, TIFF, TGA, VOX, W64, WAV, WDP, WMA, and WMV. There are formats there that I've never heard of, but if YOU use them then your day is complete.
Vegas will save to the following formats:
AA3, AC3, AIF, ATRAC, AVC, AVI, DPX, EXR, FLAC, HDP, MOV, MP3, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video, M2T, Sony MXF, OGG, PCA, RM, W64, WAV, WMA, and WMV.
That pretty much covers anything that you are likely to encounter, and VEGAS PRO 9 will encode those formats perfectly every time.
The Package also includes Sony DVD Architect 5.0 Pro which is an effective DVD Authoring Tool. Additionally, Sony now offers a Seminar Series which is a professional training set that will help new users (and older hands too) get the most out of Vegas PRO 9. In addition to the training, the VEGAS PRO PRODUCTION ASSISTANT is also available. The Production Assistant increases the functionality of the VEGAS PRO software. Using the production assistant enables you to automate repetitive processes to help you save time with your project. You can customize the process to suit your preferences and add watermarks, program id bugs, envelopes and batch processes.