Sony Vegas Pro 12 Edit review
Lots of welcome workflow improvements and a lower price, but stability issues spoil things somewhat
Review Date: 22 Oct 2012
Reviewed By: Ben Pitt
Price when reviewed: £160 (£192 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Ease of Use
There’s a big gulf between consumer video-editing software and professional systems, and surprisingly few editors populating it.
Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro dominate, but Sony Vegas Pro is a powerful editor that deserves to be taken seriously too. With the new Edit version costing a comparatively small £160, it’s even more enticing.
With such a low price, you don’t get disc authoring any more, but Vegas Pro itself continues to improve. Version 12 introduces a proxy editing mode, which generates 720p MPEG-2 copies of 1080p AVC footage to improve preview performance, automatically reverting to the original files on export.
The performance boost when running the preview window at 1080p was fairly small; it managed five AVCHD streams without proxies, and six streams with. However, halving the preview resolution to 960 x 540 gave a more dramatic boost, up from seven to 12 streams on our Core i7-870 PC.
Strangely, 1080p projects can’t be set to use 720p for the preview despite the fact that this is the resolution of the proxy files. Still, 960 x 540 is fine for most editing tasks, and Vegas Pro is back in pole position for preview performance.
Vegas Pro’s masking features were already highly sophisticated, with the ability to draw curve-based masks with feathered edges. However, drawing simpler box-shaped masks was fiddly and creating perfect circles was very difficult. The introduction of rectangle and ellipse mask shapes remedies this, and all mask types have handles for resizing and rotating.
The controls for feathering the edges now appear next to the mask itself rather than buried among the other parameters. And masks can now be reassigned to effects rather than clip opacity, where effects are applied to a limited portion of a clip – perfect for blurring faces or number plates.
Masks can be animated using keyframes, but the lack of keyframe lanes causes problems. After animating the position of our mask, we had to adjust the Feather settings separately for each keyframe – with lanes this would be far easier. Adding a second mask area to a clip was impossible after we’d animated the first mask – we had to start again from scratch. Animating clips’ positions is just as problematic, with location, rotation and scale keyframes becoming clogged up with each other.
There are other new effects. Layer Dimensionality, which works with masked clips, provides drop shadows, glow and emboss effects. There’s a tool for matching colours from one clip with those in another, based on an imported frame from the first. Our attempt to match footage from different cameras wasn’t very successful, but it was useful for fixing subtle white balance mismatches. The LAB Adjust effect provides colour correction using the Lab colour space, where green-magenta and blue-yellow spectra are handled independently; a handy addition to what was already a powerful, precise colour correction toolset.
Expanded Edit Mode, meanwhile, shows the contents of a timeline track over two sub-tracks, revealing the unused sections at the start and end of each clip, and showing a split preview of the frames either side of the cut. Elsewhere, new keyboard shortcuts make it delightfully easy to trim the picture and soundtrack asynchronously (known as L cuts), and to trim the selected clip at the current marker position.
There are various other changes, such as the ability to apply fades to and adjust the properties of multiple clips simultaneously, arrange the interface in rows of docked panels, and match the project settings to imported media. It’s now also possible to transfer projects to and from Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer and others, although as always, this is subject to numerous limitations. Our attempts to share projects with Premiere Pro were partially successful at best.
This is a solid update, and there are enough worthwhile improvements to warrant the upgrade price. For potential newcomers, the price drop gives a greater incentive than ever to graduate from consumer software. However, we’re hesitant to give Vegas Pro an unreserved recommendation, as it suffered more than its fair share of crashes during testing. Vegas’ auto-recovery function meant we never lost any work, but it isn’t what we expect from software aimed at professionals and serious enthusiasts. It’s also surprising that support for 32-bit Windows and XP has been dropped.
At such a low price for the Edit version you might have thought it would be worth waiting to see what future updates bring - but the gotcha is the £160 exc VAT price is a time-limited offer and reverts to £250 at the end of October. That makes it less of a tempter than it first appears.
Author: Ben Pitt
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