My article “The Cutting Edge” in the December 2009 issue of HDVideoPro surveyed the range of PC-based NLE programs available. This review of Sony Vegas Pro 9.0 is more detailed and incorporates improvements made since that issue. Briefly reviewing the criteria for evaluation of any NLE, let me suggest intuition, stability and speed, codec compatibility, cool/not-so-cool features and technical support. So how does Sony Vegas Pro stack up?
Vegas Pro rates as one of the most easy and intuitive NLE programs to learn. I’ve now finished my second major project (over 30 webisodes) on Vegas and found that I only made four references to any documentation. Chris Blair of Magnetic Image in Evansville, Ind., doesn’t agree, “Vegas is not intuitive at first. But once you spend some time with tutorials and actual editing, you’ll come to love its unique workflow and GUI. I was initially frustrated by its DVE interface until I spent about 10 minutes watching a YouTube tutorial, then a light went on in my head. After that, it made me wonder why all DVEs weren’t designed that way.”
What Blair is saying substantiates Vegas’ superior interface. Experienced multisystem editors abhor reading manuals and expect every NLE to work like a car. Get in and drive! As an NLE succeeds in becoming so intuitive that it’s as easy as driving a car, the only gripes one should have are those that send an editor to the tutorial—with an “Aha!” as the reward. This is a good thing. This is Vegas.
On launch, Vegas’ zoom view is full wide. Why not default to the last-closed view? A zoom bar (long=wide, short=close) can be dragged shorter from either end (to zoom in), but it refuses to zoom in to the cursor’s current position. It zooms in unpredictably. Why? Read the manual and you learn there are several other ways to zoom in to the cursor. And when Sony addresses the weird zoom bar, we’ll be even happier, but all is good.
Am I drinking Sony Kool-Aid®? Yeah, maybe, but consider that I’ve been dedicated to a different NLE for 10 years, during which time I wrote about every other NLE in search of something better. What you’re reading is me kicking and screaming as I drag myself into a better NLE. It’s what you’re probably doing, without getting paid for the search.
So, I’m saying that in the intuition, learning-curve department, Vegas gets top grades. And when the time spent learning an NLE is by far the greatest part of the purchase price, this makes the Vegas at $699.95 a bargain.
Stability And Speed
When originally loaded onto a virgin, 64-bit HP Z800 workstation (dual quad-core Xeon 3.33 GHz processors, NVIDIA Quadro FX4800 graphics card), Vegas could play four simultaneous tracks of full HD DVE video live to a full-screen HD monitor at “best” quality. As I started adding programs under review, including the full Adobe CS5 suite, Vegas started to stagger and full-screen preview became a memory. Using the inset preview screen, however, the program itself remains solid. The few crashes occurred when quickly clicking between heavily effected assets; such crashes don’t repeat after software restart.