Sony Vegas Pro 11 review

10 Nov 2011

Massive performance improvements are worth the upgrade alone; an outstanding update to a classy, powerful editor

Price when reviewed: 
593(£593 inc VAT)
5

It’s a little disconcerting when a software publisher releases an update but doesn’t bother to put a list of new features on its website. We half expected Vegas Pro 11 to be a damp squib, but the truth is quite the opposite.

Many of the new features stem from a move to a new effects plugin architecture called OFX. This first appeared in version 10 but only for a solitary new effect. This time, 36 of the 57 existing effects – including all our most commonly used ones – have been ported to OFX, along with one new in-house effect and eight third-party effects from NewBlue.

OFX enables a feature we’ve been requesting for years: keyframe lanes. Previously, each effect had a single string of keyframes, and this made it tricky to automate multiple parameters because the timeline became clogged with redundant keyframes. For the OFX effects, each parameter has its own keyframe lane, which is enabled as required.

Sony Vegas Pro 11 - lanes

It’s also possible to create curved paths between keyframes using Bézier handles. These are features that Adobe Premiere Pro has offered for years, and it’s great to see Vegas Pro finally catch up.

Sadly, Bézier curves and keyframe lanes haven’t found their way to the Pan/Crop or Track Motion editors, which is where they’d be most useful. As a result, moving videos and graphics around the frame remains clumsy compared to Premiere Pro. Position keyframes get in the way of Rotation keyframes, for example, and there’s only basic control over the speed and trajectory.

OFX also introduces another, even bigger, new development, however: GPU acceleration. Sony has wisely chosen the OpenCL framework, which means you should see benefits from a wide variety of graphics hardware. Testing with our Intel Core i7-870 PC and Nvidia GTX 275 graphics card, the improvements over Vegas Pro 10 were immense.

Sony Vegas Pro 11 - effects

With the preview window set to 1,920 x 1,080 and a light Gaussian Blur effect applied to an AVCHD clip, version 10’s preview frame rate dropped to 7fps. With version 11 it hovered just below 25fps with two instances of the same effect applied.

In another test, we stacked eight demanding effects on top of each other. Vegas Pro 10’s previews fell to 1fps, but version 11 managed 21fps. Rendering these same effects showed a 65% performance improvement.

These tests were designed to highlight speed improvements, so we also opened an old project created in version 10, and saw a 46% improvement in render speed. Basic decoding performance was up, too, with version 11 previewing six simultaneous AVCHD streams at 1080p whereas version 10 could only manage four.

Details

Price ex VAT £494
Price inc VAT £593
Overall rating 6
Ease of Use rating 6
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6
Software subcategory Video editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes