10 tips for lightning-fast editing with Vegas Pro
by Craig Anderton
One of my main applications for Vegas Pro software is editing video reports from trade shows, where the priority is speed—turnaround is crucial. In the process, I've learned some useful efficiency tips.
- Prepare in advance. Create intros, outros, theme music, and templates before you go. A well-produced intro sets the tone for a video; don't spend hours doing that on site.
- Use Sony Cinescore software for "instant soundtracks." Nothing helps make a video more professional than a good soundtrack, and Cinescore software delivers. However, rather than using Cinescore "hints" to control how the soundtrack unfolds, I prefer to generate 15-20 minutes of music for a 5-10 minute video, then rearrange (cut and paste) different sections within Vegas Pro software.
- After transferring clips and stills to your hard drive, label them. "Clip1.avi" doesn't mean much, so take a few minutes to give all your data descriptive names. You'll save time overall.
- Don't bring an audio interface—USB mics are great. I often record narration first, then lay in video to match the audio. Not all USB mics work well for narration; I favor Audio-Technica's AT2020.
- Bounce while eating, render when showering. Do something else while your computer is tied up. For example, at hotels I start bouncing a one-hour tape over to the hard drive, then go to dinner—which typically takes just under an hour. Rendering while showering also saves time.
- Create a test video using all the gear you'll take on the road. This verifies that everything works, and when it's time to pack up, you won't forget anything—simply bring the gear you used to make the video.
- Install both 64- and 32-bit versions of Vegas with 64-bit computers. 64-bit computing is in its infancy; install Vegas 32-bit also in case you have problems.
- Take still shots to cover rough edit points. Rather than trying to fix tough edits—like where someone walked in front of the camera—take lots of still shots. Drop them in, then add some zoom and pan to give action.
- Use Sony Sound Forge software to clean up audio tracks. Sound Forge software can solve audio problems fast, thanks to tools like noise reduction. Also, if there are level variations with narration, you don't have to draw gain envelopes in Vegas Pro software—use the Sound Forge Wave Hammer processor to even out the dynamic range.
- Exploit the Vegas Pro "Paste Event Attributes" command. Often, several pieces of video or stills will need the same processing—for example, video clips that were shot in a room with low light, where all the clips require brightness and contrast adjustments. Get one clip right (before you do any pan, zoom, or other actions specific to that clip), copy it, then right-click on each of the other clips and select "Paste Event Attributes." This transfers all your settings to the clip.
By the way, I practice what I preach: I'm in Germany at the Frankfurt Musikmesse, bouncing a video of the 10th annual MIPA (Music Industry Press Awards) to hard drive while I finish editing this article!
Craig Anderton is editor-in-chief of Harmony-Central.com, and executive editor of EQ magazine. He maintains an active career as a performing musician in the United States and Europe, and freely admits he wouldn't have a video career if it wasn't for Vegas Pro software. Photo by Paul Haggard.