Sonic Foundry Vegas 4 DVD

There’s no need for PC users to envy the MAC pack over their usage of the powerful and top-notch Final Cut Pro for non-linear editing projects. For under $700 (street price), Vegas 4 DVD offers many of the major features that have made Final Cut Pro or Avid Express the two most appealing products in the digital video market. Of course each of these packages has its own strengths and weaknesses, but we are talking about their overall capabilities in relationship to their price tags.

I installed Vegas 4 DVD on two different computers, on a Dell Precision 550 desktop workstation and on Compaq’s Evo N800w laptop workstation. The first thing that caught my eye was the unique design and feel of Vegas interface that makes it stand apart from packages like Adobe Premiere or Ulead’s Media Studio Pro. Despite the fact that it was my first time on Vegas, it took me less than a few hours to get used to its environment. If you know how to work in simple Windows applications, then you will find yourself at home with Vegas.

Don’t be fooled by Vegas 4 DVD’s user-friendly exterior: underneath this clean and straight-forward interface lies a set of powerful and sophisticated editing tools.

Vegas interface is divided into three main resizable segments: Time Line Window, Preview Window and a segment with several panels for Trimmer tools, Explorer, Media Pools, Transitions, Video FX and Media Generators.

In this last segment, by selecting each individual panel you can access its tools. All the actions inside Vegas 4 are done by dragging and dropping the tools and media into the Time Line or by right clicking and selecting them.

You can drop two video clips into the same video track and add transitions to them. Vegas by default creates a cross fade between two clips.

The Video FX panel holds over 45 sets of completely modifiable effects. There is an animated icon for each one of the effects. After you drag and drop an effect over a video clip, then you can choose the mighty Split Screen option in Preview window. Thus half of the preview window shows the result of the effect on the video clip, and the other half plays the original clip. What make Vegas 4 DVD a dynamite package is its professional color correction tools. Three color correction wheels, one for Low, one for Medium and one for High allow you to take full control and modification of Saturation, Hue Angle, Gain and other factors dealing with clip color. For even more precise control of color correction tools, you can add a secondary color correction.

Good News: DVD Architect, an independent DVD authoring software and a part of Vegas 4 DVD has a high level of integration with Vegas 4. With this program, using DVD Architect requires almost no experience. This powerful DVD authoring package allows you to use the preset menus and graphics or build your own.

Wish List: Adding a video paint tool to Vegas will definitely add to its compositing power.

The Bottom Line: Vegas 4 DVD with its color correction tools and its high-quality audio tools (which allow users to add key frames to audio effects and encode Surround Sound) is a great gift for video artists.

Web address: www.sonicfoundry.com

Final Score: *****

Animation Magazine’s Seal of Excellence

Ease of Use *****

Interface *****

Power of Tools *****

Quality and Depth *****