Test Drive: Sony’s Vegas Pro 8.0

MyDockedMix

The second figure (My Docked Mix) shows the Mixing Console docked along with the Tracks window, and again there are no other items docked. While not as effective for mixing, the advantage of this layout is that at least you can see all the fader objects plus whatever other objects you’re willing to devote screen space to; yes, you’ll end up making the Track display shorter, but I was able to find a good balance here between the two.

MyDockedSearch

The third figure (My Docked Search) has a docked multifuction window (containing the Trimmer, Media Explorer, etc.) and a docked Media Manager Search window joining the Tracks window, with the big Console window slid off to the right. This layout again shrieks for a second monitor to hold the Console, but it’ll do in a pinch when you’re still adding and editing media to your project on a single monitor.

Install-MSSQL-Server-2

Once you’ve got several layouts set up to your liking, you’ll want to memorize the key commands to recall them quickly. Each of your layouts gets stored in the Window Layouts menu against a number, from 0 to 9.

To recall a layout, press Alt+D to invoke the Layout command, then hit the number key above your keyboard that corresponds to the layout you want to use. Note that the numeric keypad doesn’t work for this — you have to use the row of numbers above the letter keys. It is a two-keystroke process, but you’ll get quick with it and you will be well-pleased with how simple it is and how it speeds your workflow overall.

Try it!

I have to say that version 8 also felt somewhat snappier to me. I didn’t do a thorough comparison of version 7 versus version 8, and I’m not willing to bet on it. But I have to say that in general it did feel more efficient when using it on the same machine that’s been home to Vegas Pro 7 for a year and a half. Again, YMMV, but it certainly ain’t slower.

BUILT-IN TUTORIALS

The new built-in tutorial videos are invaluable for newbies to Vegas, but equally useful for more seasoned audio vets like me who want to try something new in the video category. These tutorials are not actually videos per se, but rather are interactive Flash “slides” that take you through the steps of whatever process you’ve chosen, and draw arrows and circles over your project to illustrate which button to press next. When you click the indicated button or knob on the screen, then the next “slide” comes up directing you to the next step. What’s there is well-done, although I wish there were more of them. But you’ll use ‘em eventually; at some point even the most senior among you may want to cut some picture so you can post it on YouTube, and that’s when the tutorials will help you make Vegas dance in ways you’ve never explored.

OTHER GOODIES

Yes, there are some. For those of you who use the optional Sony Media Manager which is based on Microsoft’s SQL Server software, you have the option with Vegas 8 to install an updated version of it. For those of you who haven’t used it, you may wish to consider it — the Media Manager integrates seamlessly into Vegas, and does a very good job of helping you catalog your online and offline audio goodies. I’m just beginning to understand how it does its work, but I can already see that as a general library-building tool it has its advantages (and no disadvantages that I can see as of yet). You can see the updates in the screen shot that you’ll see near the end of the installation [Install MSSQL Server 2.tif].

There’s lots of new stuff for the vidiots among us, including an improved video processing engine, multi-camera editing, and a titler.

But for those of us who do audio, it’s all about the Mixing Console.

IS IT WORTH IT?

The upgrade from any previous full version of Vegas Pro still carries a price tag of $235 (download) or $250 (boxed), which is substantially more than what I’m used to seeing for an upgrade. The full version is now $550 for the download version and $600 for the boxed version.

Should you upgrade? It’s still not cheap, but for me it’s worth it (and I paid for mine, thank you). Having a real Mixing Console to work on makes all the difference, and makes Vegas Pro 8 feel like a modern DAW, instead of an update of a software editor from the early 1990’s.

The difference for me is substantial. Steve sez check it out.

Vegas + DVD Production Suite carries a suggested retail price of $549.95 (download) or $599.95 (boxed). A demo version is available, as is more information at www.sonycreativesoftware.com.

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