Sony Vegas Pro 13 review
Vegas Pro is a worthy competitor for Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro X, but for one reason or another it doesn’t seem to be on many industry professionals’ radars. Sony hopes to change that with this update, with a range of new features aimed squarely at professional users. Read on for our Sony Vegas Pro 13 review.
One is a proxy-first workflow, where low-resolution copies of video are uploaded to the cloud immediately after capture. From there they can be downloaded to a computer and added to the Vegas timeline. These proxies are replaced with the original high-resolution footage when it arrives.
It makes perfect sense for large production teams working to tight deadlines. It could also be useful for reviewing footage on location without interrupting the capture workflow. However, it requires a Sony CBK-WA100 or CBK-WA101 wireless adapter, which only support XDCAM professional cameras, so that rather narrows its market.
A new Loudness Meters panel measures audio levels by sound-energy levels rather than waveform peaks, with various calibrated displays to help users follow guidelines set out by the European Broadcasting Union. It’s far from self-explanatory, however, and likely to be useful only to a small number of users.
Sony Vegas Pro 13 review: iPad app
The new companion iPad app, Vegas Pro Connect, is more inclusive. It communicates with the desktop software via a local network, and serves as a wireless remote control and commenting system. It includes conventional transport buttons, but we got on better with the gesture-based controls, which let us keep our eyes on the monitor and navigate the timeline more precisely. Swiping left and right moves the playback bar at different speeds depending on whether one, two or three fingers are used.
The iPad app also allows you to drop markers onto the timeline. The gesture-based interface includes four marker labels – Check Color, Check Mix, Edit and SFX – while the transport controls add a Custom option, where you can type your own text.
It’s an elegant system for teams to collaborate on a project, allowing a non-technical user to take control of playback and add frame-accurate comments. However, there are also gestures for Undo and Redo. This points towards the app being used as an additional control surface by a single user, a role that we found worked extremely well.
The app has one further use. Projects can be rendered at 720p and transferred to the iPad’s local storage for viewing in the app. Comments can be added to this preview, and they’ll appear back on the Vegas Pro timeline when the two devices next find each other on the network. This is ideal for clients to take works in progress home from a production facility.
Transfers are simple to administer, and there’s little risk of additional copies being made, as the videos are accessible only from within the app. However, comments could become unwieldy with multiple contributors, particularly if the software operator already has his or her own marker system in place. Further complications could arise in professional editing environments, since it isn’t possible to dictate which projects a particular client can access, except by actively deleting existing files.
Back in the Windows environment, there’s a raft of smaller improvements. Various editing tricks that were already possible by holding down the Ctrl, Shift and Alt keys now have dedicated buttons. One example is the Slip tool, which moves a clip’s contents without changing its start and end position on the timeline. Various other commands that previously were available only via the menus now also have dedicated buttons.
Sony Vegas Pro 13 review: 4K support
Vegas Pro already supported 4K media, but a proxy mode now automatically kicks in whenever 4K is imported. This generally works well, but we’d prefer more explicit control via a dedicated Proxy button somewhere near the monitor.
Seven new effects come courtesy of FXhome. They’re the same ones that turned up in the consumer-orientated Movie Studio 13 Platinum, and there’s an air of panache and charisma to them that Vegas’ own effects tend to lack. There are a further ten effects in the shape of NewBlue Video Essentials VI, including an excellent chroma-key tool and various other compositing and colour corrections.
Vegas Pro is available in three editions, Edit (£240 exc VAT), Standard (£360) and Suite (£480). Edit lacks the NewBlue plugin bundle and disc-authoring facilities. The suite includes all of the above, plus Sound Forge Pro 11 and FXhome HitFilm 2 Ultimate. All three are reasonably priced, and the suite is exceptional value for those who need all the applications.
Sony Vegas Pro 13 review: verdict
The only serious rival for Vegas Pro on Windows is Premiere Pro, which is subscription-only at £176 exc VAT per year. Premiere Pro comes top for advanced features such as nested sequences and animation, but Vegas Pro is quicker to use – on balance there’s no clear victor.
Most users will need an image editor too, though, so the Creative Cloud suite with Adobe Photoshop, After Effects and the rest starts to make sense at £469 exc VAT per year. However, going down the Sony route – perhaps with Photoshop Elements for image editing – works out cheaper, especially since you can upgrade applications at your own discretion. Vegas Pro, HitFilm Ultimate, Sound Forge and Photoshop Elements add up to an impressive suite that serves video producers extremely well.
|Software subcategory||Video editing software|
Operating system support
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||no|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||no|
|Operating system Linux supported?||no|
|Operating system Mac OS X supported?||no|
|Other operating system support||Windows 8/8.1|
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