Jim Harvey reviews Vegas 5 from Sony Pictures
Jim Harvey reviews Vegas 5 from Sony Pictures
A Creative COW Product Review

Jim Harvey reviews Vegas 5 from Sony Pictures

Jim Harvey Jim Harvey
JHV Digital
New York, USA

© 2004 Jim Harvey and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
Last year Jim Harvey considered himself fortunate to review Vegas 4, but when Sonic Foundry was acquired by Sony Pictures, everyone wondered what would happen to Vegas -- Jim included. Many doubted that Sony would continue developing Vegas but Vegas 5 has proven the nay-sayers wrong. Not only has Sony Pictures not abandoned Vegas, but they've given it a full numbered uprade. Read on to find out what Jim has to say about this new offering from Sony Pictures.

Last year I was fortunate enough to get to review VEGAS 4, which was in my opinion a giant leap from the previous version from Sonic Foundry. Since that time, Sonic Foundry has been acquired by Sony Pictures. Many had wailed and moaned that The Mega Entertainment Corporation was going to abandon Vegas, as it wasn't a “Money Maker”.
Well, evidently the nay-sayers had foggy crystal balls, because not only did Sony NOT abandon Vegas, but instead upgraded it and released a full number update which not surprisingly is called Vegas 5.0.

Again, I find myself having the opportunity to review this new offering from SONY PICTURES. And this truly IS a new offering! When you start the program the interface will be just as familiar as the old Vegas 4.0. Only when you begin to work with the program do you notice that something is up, yes, there have been some pretty nice enhancements to the whole workflow.

Just going over the list of new features will take you half a day or more (assuming that you have nothing else to do for that particular day).

Just for a moment, let me describe just some of the new features in VEGAS 5.0.

On the video side, we now have 3d track motion and compositing, key-framable bezier masks, transition progress envelopes, improved mpeg2 support including 2 pass VBR encoding, and the ability to export subtitle time/text to DVD architect. (A review of DVD ARCHITECT 2.0 will be coming soon.). You can now also import flash files into your project (*.swf), which will make flash artists jump for joy.

Audio tools have also been upgraded and enhanced with the ability to do keyboard pitch shifting, support for ACID loops & properties, on the fly punch in recording and true 5.1 surround panning as well as a 5.1 audio plug in for the master bus. There is no way your project will have to suffer with “good enough” audio anymore.

The programmers probably got about an hour and a half off after their release of 4.0 and then were whisked off to the SONY think tank bunker to get to work on 5.0 because they have added so many new features and enhanced the existing ones that for all intents and purposes, VEGAS 5.0 is a completely new program. Not to worry, however, if you are at all familiar with Vegas, you will quickly tumble to the new features and be delighted when you find a little gem hiding in one of the menus or drop down windows.

I suspect that at this point, you are aware that I am absolutely excited about this new offering. I suppose that you can say I'm a true convert; I originally worked with another brand of NLE and considered myself a true believer. I was presented with VEGAS 3.0 several years ago and found it terribly lacking and contrary to my work methods. Vegas 4.0 was something that I looked at with a bit of a jaundiced eye, but after spending some time working with it and realizing how quickly I could put together a project from rough-cut to finished piece, I became sold on the VEGAS paradigm.

That said, I must admit that there are some features that have not yet become fully developed. In particular, while you can import SWF files (and as flash is vector based, you can upscale or down scale to suit your project), ActionScripting isn't supported. A small thing, and the smart money is on that being available somewhere down the road.

I found that device control was excellent and the program interfaced with my Sony DSR-11 flawlessly. In over 100 hours of working with the program, I never had one instance of the deck not being recognized by VEGAS 5.0. That in itself was a real treat (I'm sure many of you have gone through the “turn it on, turn it off ”syndrome of device control).

For you audio wizards out there, you will be very pleased to know that VEGAS ships with built in support for the MACKIE ® control and can be user customized to map MIDI control commands to your particular control unit.

One of the most exciting features is VEGAS 5.0 ability to edit HD originated footage as downconverted DVCAM directly from a J-H3 deck. And of course, VEGAS 5.0 can remove pulldown from 24P to 60i downconverted/telecined avi files and export to 24p MPEG-2 for delivery to DVD. If you are one of those cutting edge types and have a SONY DSR-DU1 or DSR-DR1000 disc recorder you can enjoy Native support in VEGAS 5.0 Whoo Hoo! No Capturing! Straight from disk to project. Sweet!

I like the act that VEGAS 5.0 allows the user to customize the workspace to reflect your needs in the editing environment. You can save several layouts and recall them at will to work on particular projects. Keyboard mapping is also available so that you can truly customize and personalize your edit environment and workspace to suit your needs.

Let's take a quick look at some of the new features so that you can see just how extensively VEGAS 5.0 has been improved.

Fig 1: Screenshot from dual monitor setup showing the new information panel on track motion

Fig.2:Close up of information box, new to Track Motion.

This new panel really gives you a great deal of flexibility in working with your tracks. By having all the information right there at your fingertips, making adjustments is quick and easy.

I might add here, that the 352-page manual is extremely comprehensive and covers almost everything that you might want to know about the program. The search function works well, and it is written in plain English so that even the beginner can find answers to their questions.

The package also comes with some Magic Bullet Plug-ins (with several additional free plug-ins available online once you register the program. The plug-ins are fully usable in your projects and allow you to render various “movie looks” to your footage. I found them to be rather limited, although there were a couple that might have some use for different projects. Remember, free is free and the idea is to get you interested enough to explore the idea of purchasing the full package. Below are some frame grabs with and without the plug-in applied.

Fig 3: 1).Standard Frame Grab, 2).Artistic Effect, 3).Neo Dark Effect




The Artistic effect should be blended to get the color balance that you are looking for or it will simply render out in black & white. I should add here, that unless you really have a specific need for these looks, (and can't duplicate them on your own) you will be spending a good deal of your time rendering the final footage.

Conclusion and COW Rating:

VEGAS 5.0 has many new features (you can check them out at Sony Vegas website) and has really come a long way from its earlier incarnations. If you are looking for a professional NLE that WON’T break the bank, give you tremendous control over your workflow and allow you creative control without having to add in compositing programs and audio tools then give VEGAS 5.0 a serious look

I give it 4 1/2 Cows. And 5 if you get it with DVD Architect 2.0, as that program fully rounds out the package. I will be reviewing DVD Architect 2.0 shortly.

(4 1/2 Cows).

Jim Harvey
JHV Digital

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