Hands on With Sony Vegas Pro 12

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Regular visitors will know that when we’re not writing about gadgets, we’re busy filming them for our YouTube channel. Over the years we’ve experimented with a variety of video editors and for the last few months we’ve been checking out Sony Vegas Pro 12 – which is aimed at the professional end of the market. We imagine it could also be an attractive choice for those have outgrown Sony’s Movie Studio and who don’t want to start from scratch with the likes of the more expensive Premiere Pro or Final Cut.

If, like us, you are new to Sony Vegas Pro (SVP), then it can all be a little overwhelming at first. As soon as the software loads, it’s immediately apparent that you’ve stepped up a gear (or three) in terms of features and complexity when compared to the more consumer level products such as Power Director and MAGIX Movie Edit Pro – both of which compete more closely with Movie Studio.

Sony Vegas Pro 12 largely focuses on further improvements to software’s workflow. There are over 20 changes in this area alone, including an expanded edit mode. This enables you to see ‘in’ and ‘out’ frames via a split-screen preview and there’s also the ability to identify unused, available frames from within the timeline.

Expanded import options
Expanded import options

Proxy editing has also been introduced. When full frame rate playback is difficult to achieve, this “Smart Proxy” feature will automatically and dynamically replace clips on the timeline with high quality, edit friendly HD proxies. As you’d expect, the software still uses the original media files to ensure a high quality final render.

Another workflow improvement is the ability for users to hold the shift key (for trim) or ctrl+alt+shift (for adjacent trim) while dragging an event edge to quickly ignore event grouping – this allows for fast “J” and “L” cuts.

Similarly handy are the new rectangle/square and circle/oval masking tools which make it easier to mask sections of your media. FX masking is also available which, by masking an effect rather than the image itself, enables you to easily blur or pixelate an area of a video clip – handy for those situations when you want to obscure a face, logo, etc.

New Color Match plugin
New Color Match plugin

There are a number of new plugins, including “Color Match” – which enables you to match the colour characteristics from one clip to another. Using this same technology, there is also the new LAB Adjust plugin which takes advantage of the L*a*b colour standard to provide precise control over the colour characteristics of your content.

Those looking to swap to Vegas Pro from other editors will appreciate the “Project Interchange” feature. As you may have guessed from the name, this enables you to exchange projects between SVP and other popular video editors. The conversion engine currently supports Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut Pro X (albeit export only), Avid Pro Tools 10 as well as Premiere Pro and After Effects CS6.

Having produced a number of videos that feature colour effects, titles and transitions – we still feel that we’ve only just scratched the surface of what SVP has to offer. That being said, I’ve always preferred to have too many tools and plugins rather than be left wanting. The learning curve, while pretty steep, is certainly achievable and that’s coming from someone who has mainly dabbled with more consumer level products in the past. Within a few days of playing around (and regular use of the undo button), I quickly found myself appreciating some of the “power” features which are often lacking in cheaper, slimmed down programs.

LAB Adjust plugin
LAB Adjust plugin

Some user reviews have identified various compatibility and stability issues, but we didn’t encounter any of these and, apart from a strange EULA acceptance “nag screen” each time we started the software, SVP was very stable and handled rendering and effects in its stride. For those interested in such things, our test system was  a Dell XPS 8300 (i7-2600, 8GB RAM) running Windows 8 Pro (64-bit) with a AMD Radeon HD 6800 series graphics card.

All in all, SVP 12 gets the thumbs up from us. It’s a powerhouse of an editor and this is reflected in its price. Those with a smaller budget and who can live without DVD Architect Pro and the ability to encode their audio in Dolby 5.1, may wish to check out the new “Edit” version of SVP 12 which comes in at around £180 cheaper. We’d recommend checking out this page on the Sony site which gives a handy comparison of the two Pro versions as well as the consumer-focused Movie Studio range.

Nero Multimedia Suite 10 addresses the burning issue

Nero Burning ROM has one of my favourite product names jokes for the past 10 years (and I always fiddle whilst burning my CD-ROMs). As a college DJ I used Nero to burn mix CDs most of the way through uni, compile photos onto photo CDs and even transfer the occasional movie file to DVD. However times have changed and I no longer burn as much media as I used to. I can DJ off iPods of Laptops (Serato/Native Instruments make some wonderful devices). Things have moved online for photosharing (Flickr, Picasa) or even general files (words can’t express how much I love Dropbox). Even media plays back effortlessly across my network – I have an Apple TV & LG BD390 and Packard Bell, Western Digital and Popcorn Hour all provide similar products.

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A CD from the olden days

I still burn media occasionally but it’s no longer the first choice for sharing media. Nero have addressed this with the release of the Nero Multimedia Suite 10, which is a 3-in-1 package of Video Editing, Burning and Backup. Nero now has a foot firmly in both camps – physical and online media. NMS10 allows you to manage all your media, burn it to physical discs or share it online as well as the ability to securely back it up.

Video Editing
My favourite new feature was the in built Video Editing – very powerful yet flexible solution. Working with pretty much any format you can throw at it you can edit and export easily to various sites with relative easy. Out of the box it allows pretty impressive Video editing – not dissimilar to iMovie HD and in some areas edges towards Final Cut Express. You can make quick, simple edits for standard footage or you can really get your hands dirty with advanced video editing and authoring tools for Standard and High Definition movies. It includes features such as true multi-track editing, advanced Picture-in-Picture and overlay effects with full key frame control, Chroma Key, Image Matt, Lens Distortion, Edge Feathering and has 60 Menu Templates.

Nero MediaHub
As the name implies this is a Media hub for playback, management and simple editing of multimedia files and as you would expect allows you to quickly organise, sort, search, play back and share music, photo and video files. It does pretty decent work as a one stop shop – from the same window you can playback the most popular audio, video and photo formats such as AVCHD, MKV, FLV, FLAC, DVD, non-commercial Blu-ray, MPEG-4 AVC, (S)-VCD, AVCREC, audio CDs, as well as music play-lists and slideshows. It is pretty easy to publish music, slideshows and video projects to CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs (including 24 progressive frame high quality cinema formats) or upload to leading social media communities, including YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and even the My Nero community.

Nero Burning ROM
If you do need to burn things Nero have you more than covered with a serious burning package. SecurDisc™ 2.0 technology is used to increase the lifespan, reliability, security and integrity and now includes support for Blu-ray Discs, in addition to CDs and DVDs making data readable regardless of scratches, age or deterioration and accommodates password protection and encryption, while ensuring its authenticity with digital signatures. Using the Nero DiscSpan and Nero DiscMerge utilities, you can burn oversized files to multiple discs or different types of media.

Nero BackItUp & BurnEasily back up files, folders, drives and the entire system in a few easy steps and protects entire systems from the effects of hard drive crashes, system failures and virus attacks. The built in one-click Autobackup function, automatically backups files either in the background or via scheduling and can also recover data from digital cameras, thumb drives or damaged media. There is also a syncing feature keeping files or folders organised on hard drives, flash drives or online.

For the price it is hard to find fault with this package, covering as it does the latest and greatest technology for burning physical media, robust online back up and surprisingly advance video editing facilities.

Nero Multimedia Suite 10 available now at www.nero.com for £59.99. Starting April 12th, Nero Multimedia Suite 10 will be available in retail stores worldwide with a suggested retail price of £59.99.