Sony Vegas+DVD 7 review

£349
Price when reviewed

Sony’s Vegas remains an outsider in the video-editing market, despite its big-name backing. But the app has now become a mature video editor, and in its seventh incarnation aims to consolidate on the strong features it’s developed.

Sony Vegas+DVD 7 review

Although the interface hasn’t changed much, there are some welcome alterations. One of the quirks is its focus on the timeline rather than the Video preview window, with the former at the top and the latter at the bottom – the opposite way round to its rivals. Now, at last, you can swap this to the more conventional arrangement, although the option to do so is hidden in Display Preferences. It’s also possible to reposition and resize the windows, but not quite as much as with Adobe Premiere Pro. Once you’ve arranged things to your liking, you can also save up to ten custom workspaces.

Vegas’ underlying MPEG2 engine has been updated considerably, particularly its support for HDV. While you could edit HDV natively in Vegas 6, the engine was painfully slow. So Sony used CineForm Aspect HD intermediary files instead. Vegas could edit these files more smoothly, but it added a complicated extra stage to the capture process. Now Vegas 7 can edit native HDV even more smoothly than it did the CineForm files. The capture applet performs scene detection with HDV as well as it does with DV, and worked just fine with our Sony HVR-A1E HDV camcorder. Vegas 7 also adds direct support for AJA and Blackmagic cards, allowing acquisition from analog HD sources, as well as compatibility with Sony’s XDCAM disc format.

Alongside the much improved HDV support, Vegas can now also scale the preview it outputs to a secondary monitor. So if you’re editing HD but don’t have a monitor capable of that resolution, you can still get an idea of how your edit will look full screen. Vegas has made placing clips on the timeline easier with colour-coded snap points, which glow as they become the closest to the clip end. The colours change depending on whether the snap-to is a clip end, a gridline or another marker.

However, while all these things make Vegas 7 a decent upgrade over version 6, the range of effects and other editing tools remain essentially the same. Fortunately, Vegas was already well equipped and a good match for the competition. This is further enhanced by the range of extras included, foremost among which is DVD Architect 4, a capable disc-authoring app. Vegas also comes with Boris Graffiti titling and Red Giant’s amazing Magic Bullet Movie Looks film-effect plug-ins. There’s also a trial of Cinescore, Sony’s capable loop-based soundtrack- creation tool, which works as a Vegas plug-in. But it only lasts for 30 days before you’ll have to pay £150 for the full version.

Despite the improved interface, Sony Vegas 7 still takes a slightly unusual approach to video editing, which may not be to everyone’s taste. But it’s undeniably powerful, with decent real-time effects performance, lots of professional tools and effects, and very capable DVD authoring included. If you were considering Adobe Premiere Pro 2 or Avid Liquid 7, Sony Vegas 7 should also be on your shortlist.

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