Vegas Video 3: Digital Video Editing Hits the Jackpot
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The strengths of Vegas Video 3 are numerous. First, the audio editing capabilities are the best I've seen -- That's no surprise, because it looks like Sonic Foundry's highly capable Sound Forge lives right inside Vegas Video, or at least a strong subset of it. But it does a couple of things better than Sound Forge -- it's able to perform all its audio edits in real time, and is non-destructive, unlike the arguably more powerful Sound Forge.

But there's little you can't do with audio in this software. Best of all, since Sonic Foundry cut its teeth on audio with products like Sound Forge, the software is filled with advanced audio features, none of which require any rendering whatsoever. For example, all audio mixing, no matter how complicated, is done in real time through software only. It includes plenty of sophisticated filters and tricky devices like a super-sounding voice-optimized voice-stretch capability that I really wish I had early in my career when I was editing sleazy car commercials with forty seconds of copy to wedge into a 30-second spot (ouch!). Overall, it's simply the best implementation of audio manipulation tools I've ever seen in a video editing software package, bar none. And if for some reason that's not enough, Vegas Video 3 integrates seamlessly with the full version of Sound Forge and Acid, a loop-based semi-automatic music composition app that can put together some very convincing-sounding music that fits your production perfectly. [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Change the speed of your clips using Vegas Video's unique Velocity Envelope
Change the speed of your clips using Vegas Video's unique Velocity Envelope
Another one of my favorite features is the ability to add a "velocity envelope" to any video clip. If you right-click on any clip, one of the choices is "Insert/Remove Velocity Envelope." Selecting that gives you rubber-band control over the speed of the clip, where you can add control points to change the speed mid-clip, a feature I've seen only on editing systems costing fifty times as much as this. With this keyframing, you're allowed to change this speed abruptly or smoothly, so that hip effect of a lightning-fast sped-up camera move and then an abrupt change to slow motion is as easy as dragging around a few rubber bands. It's remarkable.

I must admit, I did miss the crisp real-time feeling of hardware-based real time effects. But the dynamic RAM previews, particularly on a very fast machine with lots of RAM, are near-perfect. On my test 1800+Athlon machine, everything I wanted to do in real time, below about four layers, was smoothly played back in real time. Beyond that, even if I had 10 layers, I could still get a recognizable playback of these layers in Draft Mode preview.

[Click for QuickTime Movie] Stack up the layers, and Vegas can still play 'em back, as long as you have the RAM to handle it.
[Click for QuickTime Movie] Stack up the layers, and Vegas can still play 'em back, as long as you have the RAM to handle it.
For example, a page peel with two text keys over it and a dissolve underneath, with each element fading up and down and the text moving had a stutter or two in preview mode, but I could still see what it would look like in the final product, and could play it back through a studio NTSC monitor (see the result by clicking on the graphic at left for a QuickTime movie). And the advantages of having all these effects in software is significant. Think flexibility and configurability. Instead of implementing all these effects in hardware, a few lines of code make it so I can not only add a graceful page curl to my production, I can manipulate almost every aspect of that curl, including its opacity, perspective, roll angle, slide amount, the color of its reflective light, and then unlimited keyframing of all these attributes.

Vegas gives you control over every aspect of an effect. Notice how you can even control the color of the light reflected in this scroll transition.
(click image for enlargement) Vegas gives you control over every aspect of an effect. Notice how you can even control the color of the light reflected in this scroll transition dialog box.
Control like this (see graphic at right), until now, was only obtainable in After Effects and beyond. But keep in mind, if you want to get the most out of Vegas Video 3, use the most powerful and RAM-stoked computer you can possibly get your hands on. That's not too hard, considering that monster-power Athlon machines with tons of RAM these days cost little more than a grand.

Here is one of the many choices of the Vegas Video 3 Video FX tab
Here's one of the many choices of the Video FX tab: Lots of lens flares.
My delight was intensified when I clicked on the Video FX tab (click on graphic at left) , where there were enough effects to create a 60s-style psychedelic nightmare. It's almost overwhelming the amount of control you can have over your video, with all kinds of blurs and noise effects, film effects and so much color correction that there were parameters that could be set that were beyond anything I've seen short of a $200K Quantel Edit Box. Helping the color correction is the ability to see all your manipulations in an NTSC monitor in real time, not just on the computer screen overlay, something the newest "real time" version of Final Cut Pro 3 can't do. Granted, if you want to set up a kludgy ability to preview your work with Final Cut Pro 3 in real time on an NTSC monitor, you can take S-Video out of your graphics card onto an NTSC monitor, but that's not the same as the ability to recompress the 1394 signal and feed it back (through a transcoder or your DV camera) to an NTSC monitor, giving you an exact look at what your final product's colors and effects will be. So, if you want to see what your edits look like in that TV monitor, just click the little TV icon, and there it is for all the world to see.

Source: Original Digital Media Net Content

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