Sonic Foundry Vegas 4
£300 Video capture and Non-linear video editing on a PC that
does everything and more that a £3000 package does.
Vegas 4.0 is outstandingly good stuff.
And I mean really good. It’s hard to be too enthusiastic
about this software from Sonic Foundry, whose legendary Sound Forge
software still sets the standard for audio editing.
If you have been
watching the numerous false dawns in the “you, too, can edit video
on a PC” saga that’s been running since the earliest editions of
Adobe’s Premiere began to look credible, and video capture cards
dropped to affordable prices and acceptable performance – then Vegas
4.0 is daybreak at last. Now add Vegas 4 to the fact that mini DV
camcorders prices have been sliding gracefully down to under £300,
and we are about to be besieged by more video than you could shake
an entire rainforest of sticks at, since just about everyone agrees
that video is by far the most effective information delivery medium,
this convergence of price and practicality is irresistible.
I raved about Vegas
3.0 with its wonderfully robust and obvious interface – plus killer
abilities to mix and match DV with Windows Media, Quicktime and
MPG1/2/4 files – so you are not forgiven if you haven’t heard of the
Vegas genre. This new release appeared in February, and although not
a huge upgrade to an already outstanding non linear video editing
package, it goes the extra mile and now has a companion (DVD
Architect 1.0) that does all the DVD stuff you need..
The audio capability
of Vegas has always been awesome, so much so that there really
wasn’t a lot more left to do – and apart from the major extra of 5.1
surround sound mixing, most of the tweaks in 4 are in the video
department, where the influence of real video editors is now clearly
It’s only when you
actually have a robust enough editor to get stuck deep into projects
that you then start to understand more about what’s missing from a
package – and management of video clips is top of the list of those
who manage to progress past the basics stages without getting bored
by crashes. Even though disks are cheaper by the month and capacity
keeps creeping up, you can eat all of a 120Gbyte drive in no time if
you are not ruthless in managing your media, and deleting the junk
as quickly as possible.
The new shuffle mode
and ripple editing features make managing large projects as
intuitive as I could imagine for anyone with a basic understanding
word-processing. The scrubbing and fast forward/back option is
Purists will now find
video scopes and colour correction – much needed in the land of the
ropey old NTSC standard. As we all know, NTSC means “Never Twice
Same Color.” This feature is great, but will probably be less
frequently required in the world of PAL – unless you are using
scanned cine film.
The range of supplied
effects and speed of rendering is remarkable. AA range of filters
previously supplied at extra cost with Vegas 3 are now integrated
with version 4.
But having unleashed a
monster of a product, I get the impression that Sonic Foundry
doesn’t have a marketing bone in its body, or instead of a no save
demo edition, it would be one that watermarked all files with vegas4
and their url. And then just about every bit of video anywhere on
the web would be promoting Vegas with a few months, since this
product is such a complete and comprehensive solution.
I’m still in awe – and the release is widely
regarded by the cognoscenti as “bug free”. I haven’t yet managed to
crash it, although I have run it hard round the bends on many
occasions. Under Windows XP ona 1G7 CPU system, I have used a 1394
hard drive to capture video from a Sony DV camera plugged into the
same 1394 card, and even working on some applications (within
reason) at the same time, it doesn’t drop a frame using the
excellent capture system included with Vegas.
Generally speaking, where graphics are
concerned, I am a huge Adobe fan – but Adobe is still more than a
bit hampered by the Mac roots of most of its products, and the awful
help schemes that this imposes. The Vegas 4 help system is yet
another tour de force, allowing the software to be used without
reference to the full manual – but since there is so much going on
with the software, browsing the manual will also reveal many more
subtleties than you will blunder into by chance.
Vegas 4 is so much better than Premiere 6.5
that it is completely embarrassing for Adobe usual supporters.
Premier is to Vegas what Jo Brand is to Kiri Tekanawa. And let’s
give thanks that Microsoft hasn’t stifled this area of software
innovation with it usual brand of mediocrity.
This is the sort of product that is treasured
by its fans – and there are several fan sites out there, notably
There’s a $399 introductory price for Vegas 4 –
maybe going up to $499 by the time you read this. But if I were
Sonic Foundry, I’d keep it at $399 and watch Avid and the rest of
the so-called high-end video editing software business fainting with