Online Review: Vegas Video, by Sonic Foundry





    In may last year, we reviewed Vegas Pro, the first version of Sonic Foundry's multitrack software for PC platform. A lot of good feature and aspects of this software made us wish that this program was running on the Mac platform as well. Well, that didn't happen, but Sonic Foundry did send out a new version 2, and added new video features to the software as well. Hence the new package name: Vegas Video, that contains a full version of Vegas Audio 2, plus the rich featured video part.

    We see that a lot of home recording studios are producing small clips in house, so we took the offer of Sonic Foundry to test this audio/video bundle, as we originally planned to test Audio 2 only. Curious if we were able to produce a simple clip as well, something we have never done before. We are audio experts, and leave the video business to guys who know what they are doing in that area. But some experimenting always is fun, right? As long as you do not show the poor result on the Net ;-).

    OK, let's have a look. Basically, version 2 is the very same strong audio multi tracker as the version, we reviewed last year. The look and feel and the ease if use are unchanged, So, if you want to read back, just click here and read the review of version 1 first, and then return here.

    So, now for some of the most important new functionality in version 2. Vegas now runs without problems under Windows ME and supports RealMedia version 8. Important of you want to stream your pdocution on the Internet. Also, the support of Windows Media streaming formats has been approved. Sonic Foundry designed a new audio codec (.pca, which stands for Perfect Clarity Audio), that provides lossless audio compression. It is a bit like the ZAP compression by Emagic, we know on the Mac platform, and which is mainly used for archiving purposes.

    Since version 2 has pretty much enhanced video features, Sonic Foundry also added support for import of unlocked audio from digital video cameras. This features opens interesting possibilities, as you can imagine. Make some shootings of your band somewhere outside, bring them into Vegas, cut, paste and affect around as much as you like, put your song under the video, et presto, your video clip is ready. Well... some creativity and planning needed of course ;-).

    Vegas Audio/Video 2 is not backwards compatible with Vegas Pro (version 1). If you want to work with a version 1 project in Vegas 2, it is highly recommended that you save you v1 project under a new name, using Vegas Pro. Then you start working on the new copy, and keep the first version for archiving purposes in case you ever want to return to that status of your first production. So a good advice: keep Vegas Pro installed on your hard disk.

    Features and formats.

    All major formats (both audio and video), that are current today in digital production, are supported. The production level ones, like AIF and WAV, and the new PCA-codec mentioned before. ASnd the showcase level ones, like MP3 and MPEG, QuickTime, RealMedia and Windows Media formats. NTSC and PAL are supported too, which makes exchange of video material between Europe (PAL based) and the US (NTSC based) easier. Here is the complete list of supported formats: Vegas Video opens AIF, AVI, BMP, MOV, MP3, WAV, and it saves AIF, ASF, AVI, MP3, RM, WAV, and WMA.

    One drawback here: support for SoundDesigner II format (SD II) is still lacking, which makes exchange of Vegas audio productions with some of the major professional software on the Mac platform a conversion crime. To our opinion a missed chance, as we already stated in our review of version 1.

    This little drawback is somewhat compensated via the smooth integration with SoundForge, the post production tool by Sonic Foundry (See: reviews of version 4.5 and 5). Make a final mix to a new track in Vegas Video. Then, from within Vegas Video, you can open audio in SoundForge with just one right-click. And here you have the option to safe the file as SD. Oops... but only in version I, not II. Come on techguys at Sonic Foundry, please bring this SD II issue up to standard. Both Windows and Mac studios will love you for that, I am pretty sure.




    Back to the video part. The video preview area in Vegas Video lets you preview your product, in several quality settings. The small buttons at the top row give you a lot of settings, such as the format, size, and frames per second. Previewing on an external video monitor is possible too, providing you have one of course, and your PC is equipped with the needed output signals. These kind of handy functionalities make Vegas Video a ready-to-go tool for more serious video production level. Some other reviewer stated that Vegas would hit the professional broadcasting industry. I don't know about that, merely because I am not so familiar with that section of the recording industry. I someone knows of a TV station that uses Vegas Video, please let me know. I will add the info -after a check of course- to this review.




    To make your video clip more lively, Vegas Video gives you a bunch of transition effects. If you use them well, your home produced video clip can look pretty pro.



    Besides the transitions, Vegas Video comes with a bunch of other video effects that can make your clip more appealing. The screenshot above shows the effects that come standard with Vegas Video.

    Learning curve.

    Once you understand the basic concepts of Vegas, the learning curve is rather short and quick in the audio part, and maybe somewhat longer in the video area. The video part is somewhat more difficult, but I managed to get grip of its features with hardly any reading in the thick manual. The learning/examples CD, that comes as an extra in the package, did provide good help here. I of course had the advantage of already having worked with version 1, and I happily discovered that Vegas did not become more difficult with this new version.

    As a well experienced Mac user, I think this is a strong point of Vegas. I quickly worked around with features like full event recording, time recording, insert recording (punch in), and insert recording with loop playback allowing multiple takes automatically. I am pretty sure that even a first beginner will master this software rather quickly, maybe mostly thanks you the simple way you can drag and drop audio from the media pool into the editing window, and the smart way to can add DirectX effects. Working this way, you will be producing an arrangement within a few hours of learning. Very strong concept.

    Conclusion.

    We can imagine why the US magazine Videomaker awarded Vegas Video with the title winner of the best video editing software category in the year 2000. Vegas Video offers a smooth solution, fitted for both beginners and more professionals. Vegas Video contains all audio features, needed to produce good production. And if you wanna go a step further and produce your own video clip, Vegas Video can do that too. A total of 32 effects and a multitude of other features give you enough bricks to build a nice clip. The number of audio and video tracks is unlimited, up to the limits of your computer of course. Unlimited undo and redo give you great flexibility, and if you wanna mix some outdoor camera captures into your clip, Vegas Video will capture DV (digital video) for you as well. Provided you have a video capture card, of course.

    Last year, we gave version 1 of Vegas a fat
    9 with a little minus. We stick to that for this new version. The minus is -once again- for the lack of support of SD II, the audio format which is so important on the Mac platform. Exchanging to a Mac oriented production environment is now limited to AIF (.WAV is basically no option for a Mac studio ;-), and a great majority of the Mac based studios wanna get SD II. Sonic Foundry engineers, please....? For the rest: great software, that will give you many, many hours of audio and video editing fun. You can take my word for that: that is the experience we had with Vegas Video.

    Pricing and downloads are available on the producers website:
    http:/www.sonicfoundry.com/.


    All reviews in AudioMac.net are written by Peter J. Bloemendaal. All rights reserved.

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    10-09-2001