Sonic Foundry Vegas Video 3

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Sonic Foundry Vegas Video 3

In the short while since its launch, Sonic Foundry's revamped video editing program has won over a lot of converts, but just how good is it?

We first looked at Vegas Video nearly two years ago, and were impressed with Sonic Foundryís first serious assault on the desktop video editing market. The user interface was good and the features-list impressive. The code also seemed fairly robust, confirming a reputation won by various audio programs such as Sound Forge, Acid and Vegas Audio. But, despite a positive review, we did have a few reservations. At the
top of this fairly short list was a lack of DV batch capture and any support for MPEG formats, although MPEG output was partially addressed by a subsequent update.
Since that time, computer hardware has continued to improve and fall in price, with significant advances seen in the speed of processors, graphic card and hard disks; the widespread availability of cheap OHCI-compliant FireWire cards for DV capture and output; and the introduction of affordable DVD burners. And, all of Sonicís main competitors in the video editing middle-market have introduced substantial upgrades -including Adobe with Premiere 6, and Ulead with MediaStudio Pro 6.5 - which Vegas Video 3 is set to challenge.

What's new?
Perhaps the most significant additions with V3 are batch capture and automatic scene detection with a suitable DV camera/IEEE 1394 card combination. Also very important is that Vegas is now supplied with MainConcept's highly-rated MPEG-1/2 plug-in providing good-quality output for DVD.
Preview options have been improved, too, and the user can now specify the amount of RAM that gets allocated to preview tasks. This dynamic RAM previewing can significantly improve the real-time playback of transitions or complex video effects within the Preview Window, without the need for rendering. Vegas is now also more flexible in terms of mixing video formats. Video of different formats, sizes and frame rates can all be
used together within the same project. Some new video effects have been added, and the titling and credit-roll tools have been improved. There is new support for Red Book audio CD mastering and VideoCD/multimedia CD burning. Although thereís no support for direct burning to SVCD and DVD, MPEG-2 output is suitable for use with SVCD and DVD authoring applications.


Apart from our initial problems with DV capture on the desktop PC, Vegas Video was rock-solid on all our test machines and felt very responsive (though, as expected, slightly less so when editing MPEG files). The interface is straightforward and well thought out - as is usual with Sonic Foundry's programs. With the companyís excellent pedigree in audio software, it's no surprise that the audio functionality on offer is first class, but this is now matched by what can be done with video footage. For all routine video editing jobs, the program is a pleasure to use. Add in the excellent DV capture utility and the comprehensive rendering output options and Vegas Video has an awful lot going for it. But should users of Adobe Premiere or MediaStudio stay with what they know or consider moving to Vegas? The thought of another learning curve wonít be inviting, but Vegas is easier to move around in than some competitors. Editors considering a program in Premiere's price range should definitely check out Vegas Video by downloading the fully-functional, but time-limited, demo on Sonic Foundry's site (28.5MByte, plus 8.6MByte for the manual).
Even though Sonic Foundry is going to have to work hard to muscle in on the big-name players -especially given its very poor availability in retail outlets - Vegas Video 3 does offer a professional digital video editing environment that makes it a worthy contender to Premiere and its ilk, and one we'd recommend very highly.

John Walden

For the full review, see the August 2002 issue of Computer Video.

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In August's news:

Premiere 6.updates
Philips cuts DVD burner price
Canopus analogue digital converter card
Edition DV now compatible with OHCI
Low-cost Leef FireWire drive bays
USB capture 'cable' from Pinnacle
Pinnacle adds DVD authoring
Sony MicroMV camcorder support
TerraTec £50 DVD authoring bundle
WD 200GByte EIDE hard disk
Canopus £230 analogue/DV editing card
Pinnacle sub-£70 TV tuner card trio

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