Sony Vegas Pro

Sony Vegas ProSony Vegas Pro 8 is the first version of Sony’s video editing and DVD creation suite that’s compatible with Windows Vista.

It’s a fully-featured content creation tool and non linear video editing is just the beginning. It comprises the video editor (Vegas Pro), DVD Architect Pro 4.5 for authoring DVD content and a Dolby Digital AC-3 Encoder, which gives you the power to mix 5.1 multi-channel or stereo sound mixes.

Several big new features make the Vegas Pro suite stand out from older versions and bring it more into line with the industry standards — in some cases surpassing them.

For design-aware editors, the ProType Titler is sure to be a hit. Onscreen text always seemed the last concern of NLE application developers, while programs like illustrator and Photoshop did a much better job of text effects as you’d use on titles. ProType Titler gives you greatly expanded powers over your onscreen text, but it would still be nice if it interfaced directly with .ai or .psd files as Adobe Creative Suite is still very much the place to go for type effects.

It’s doubly puzzling because DVD Architect does actually interface with Photoshop to allow you to build your menu graphics and backgrounds. Similar functionality in the video editing component would be welcome.

Also new is the multi-camera workflow, a feature you might be familiar with if you’re migrating from another mid to pro level editing suite. It lets you switch between up to 32 video sources and take snippets from each to complete your shot, the software saving all your unused footage to let you make editing tweaks later.

If you’re sick of the tiny preview window you have to shift, resize, rearrange and otherwise manipulate, Vegas Pro is for you. Just click Alt, Shift and 4 and you get a full screen preview, on an external or second monitor if necessary. It’s a very welcome addition and combined with native support for portrait video mode (popular in digital signage, we’re told) it means Vegas takes your post-output needs seriously.

Audio mixing is pretty fully featured in most pro editing applications, and Vegas has been bought into line with them thanks to a full audio mixing console that could serve as your audio hub even without using the rest of the suite to edit video.

There’s a fairly decent range of plug-ins, themes and presets across the board, including sound loops and 44 DVD themes in Architect Pro. As expected, most of them are pretty cheesy but they can certainly be relied upon in a DVD emergency. The film effects are much the same, with the exception of the film and TV simulation effects, which are very cool and can make your edit look like aged film or a TV broadcast respectively.

On the hardware side, it’s a pretty natural fit as Sony are one of the leading camera manufacturers, so you shouldn’t have any trouble with formats from image capture right through to output. The new AVCHD Sony camcorders are supported, and you can burn a Blu-ray disc from right in the timeline.

While Vegas Pro needed some improvements to bring it up to speed with its fuller-featured competitors, version 8 not only delivers them, but the price makes it all great value for money.