Introducing Vegas Pro 12
Vegas™ Pro 12 introduces an impressive number of new features that make the software more powerful than ever. With over 40 new features, you're sure to find several that make big improvements to your workflow. While I can't cover all of the new features in this article, I'll summarize several of the major ones so that you'll get a good taste of what Vegas Pro 12 has to offer.
One of the features that has users, who come to Vegas Pro from other nonlinear editors, excited enables you to view your video project in a two-up view we call Expanded Edit Mode. Expanded Edit Mode shows you the last frame of one event in one Video Preview window and the first frame of the following event in another Video Preview window. In this view you can easily make exact cuts that match frames from one clip to the next. For instance, say you have a two-camera shoot and you want to edit from one camera to the other at an exact frame. You want the in frame of camera 2 to match the out frame of camera 1 precisely. Expanded Edit Mode makes this easy.
To enter Expanded Edit Mode, double-click at the meeting of two adjacent events, or on an edge of a crossfade or transition area. Vegas Pro hides the window docking area and displays two large Video Preview windows as shown in Figure 1. You can see the last frame of the first event in the window on the left and the first frame of the second event in the window on the right. Now you can view both of these as you adjust the in point of event two to match the out point of event one.
You'll find other existing features very helpful while editing in Expanded Edit Mode. For instance, combine this mode with Auto Ripple mode and keyboard trimming techniques and you'll soon discover an exceptionally fast way to achieve that perfect edit point between two clips.
New enhancements to the Beziér masking tools make these tools not only easier to use, but also more powerful. First, we've added two new mask drawing tools: the Rectangle or Square Mask Creation Tool and the Oval or Circle Mask Creation Tool. These two tools make it exceptionally easy to create perfect rectangular, square, oval, and circular masks like the perfectly circular mask shown in Figure 2. Buttons below the selected mask give you quick access to mask edge feathering features and positive/negative switches.
Another great addition to the Beziér masking tools makes obscuring a section of your video, such as a face or a license number, a very straightforward process. In order to obscure the face included within the mask in Figure 2, you can add a pixelate filter and change the new Apply to FX property to Yes. You can see in Figure 2 that the property uses a default value of No. This results in the mask behaving in the traditional manner where it masks out the video outside the mask to let video from a lower track to show through.
However, if you add an effect to the event FX chain (like a pixilate filter) and then change the Apply to FX property to Yes, Vegas Pro limits the effect to just the material within the mask and shows the rest of that video in a non-affected state. You can see the results of this in Figure 3 where I've used a pixilate filter to obscure the face of just the actor within the mask.
The new Color Match filter gives you a tool that operates in the powerful L*a*b color space and makes matching video from two different clips nearly automatic. For instance, say you shoot the same scene with two different makes and model of camera. When you get back to the studio and begin editing, you notice that clips from the two cameras don't look quite the same color. In this case, decide which of the clips you want to match to the other and apply the new Color Match filter to that clip. You can do so at the media, track, or event levels just like any other clip.
Now you have several options for matching this clip to the other. For instance, to take one approach, open the clip you want to match in the Trimmer window. Then, at the click of a button, you can match the clip you're working with to the image in the Trimmer window. You could also match the clip to a file on your Windows clipboard, a file on your computer drives, or even to a specific section of an image showing on your computer screen.
In Figure 4 you can see that I'm pointing to the Use Trimmer Image button in the Color Match filter interface. You can also see a portion of the contents in the Trimmer window at the top left and the video I'm matching to that image in the Video Preview window to the top right of the figure.
The Project Media window has been significantly beefed up in the new version of Vegas Pro. The new tagging feature gives you a powerful way to organize your project media files, to search for those files, and to organize them into useful bin structures. You can add custom tags to all of the media in your project and you can create a Quick Tag list that holds up to 10 tags. With these quick tags, you can then apply your most commonly used tags with simple keyboard shortcuts. Vegas Pro automatically creates separate bins for each new tag you create in your project.
Once you've applied tags to your media, you can use the enhanced bin search tools to search for all clips in your project that contain a given tag. In fact, the search tool now enables you to utilize multiple search criteria so you can really narrow in on exactly the clips you're looking for.
Once you've conducted a search, you can turn the results into a smart bin. Smart bins preserve their connection to the search so that if you decide to refine that search, you can call up the previous search and modify its conditions to get to exactly what you want. Smart bins also update immediately. For instance, say you've created a smart bin as a result of a search for any media files with a tag you've called CloseUp. Later, you add another close-up clip to your project and apply the CloseUp tag to it. The smart bin updates immediately to include the newly tagged clip so that when you sort by that smart bin, the new clip gets included.
Another great improvement to the Project Media window makes it possible to change the properties of several media files simultaneously. For instance, say you're working on a digital signage project with vertical orientation. All of the clips you've imported into your project have been shot with the camera in vertical orientation and you need to let Vegas Pro know about that orientation. You can now select each of the files, right-click any of the selected files, and choose Properties from the menu. Then change the Rotation property to the appropriate setting and click OK. Rather than doing each of these files one at a time, this changes the properties for all of them simultaneously and that can save you a significant amount of time. You can simultaneously change many other properties on multiple clips as well.
The new Layer Dimensionality filter gives you a tool with which you can add texture to any video that utilizes an alpha channel. This can be particularly powerful for generated text media where you can create interesting effects on your text. You can see on my text in Figure 5 that I've added a drop shadow, a slight inner glow and embossed edges to my text which gives it a more textured and dynamic look than simple flat text.
In this case, I've used the plug-in on text with a transparent background, but you can apply it to any image that utilizes transparency. You can even apply the plug-in as a custom compositing mode in order to add interesting effects to video that you've inset as a picture-in-picture effect using track motion.
Vegas Pro 12 now supports a complete Academy Color Encoding System—known as ACES—high-dynamic-range workflow. In fact, Vegas Pro 12 is the first NLE to support this workflow natively with no additional modules or plug-ins.
The story behind this workflow is beyond the scope of this article, but what it boils down to is that several new Sony cameras, including the PMW-F3, the F23, F35, and F65 cameras, can record video with a response curve intended to capture and preserve more of the camera's full dynamic range. This curve, known as S-Log, re-purposes the image encoding values to represent this wider dynamic range.
What does that mean? It means you can now bring in footage with much more color information at both the high and low ends. When you bring that footage into Vegas Pro 12, you can then better utilize this information to create the look you want for your video. In traditional cameras, you couldn't bring out the details in the very high and low end of the video range because that information was lost due to the camera's compression of the video information. With the S-Log workflow in Vegas Pro, you can finally bring out those details because you can work with the higher dynamic range information from beginning to end.
Video editors are just now beginning to learn what S-Log is all about and just how they can utilize it in their projects. And Vegas Pro 12 is right there with a complete S-Log workflow so that once you're ready to start working with S-Log, so is your NLE.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, these are just a few of over 40 new features in Vegas Pro 12. Some of the new features are big, while others are smaller. But even the smaller ones bring great functionality to the application. For instance, there are many user interface enhancements that make your editing life easier. Selected events now stand out more prominently. ASR event envelopes are much more apparent now. It's much easier to set your project video properties to match the media on your timeline, ToolTips now give much more detailed information about the function of buttons in your workspace, quickly creating J and L cuts has never been easier, and the list of small—but significant—UI enhancements goes on.
As always, the application help file provides a complete list of the new features in the application and you can find more information on our website. If you want more in-depth training on the new features, watch for the release of our Seminar Series for Vegas Pro 12 training package within the next several weeks. Also watch for an upcoming webinar that will focus on some of these new features. You can find all of these training materials and more in the training section of our website at www.sonycreativesoftware.com/training.
Gary Rebholz, is the training manager for Sony Creative Software. Gary produces the popular Seminar Series training packages for Vegas Pro, ACID Pro, and Sound Forge software. He is also co-author of the book Digital Video and Audio Production. Gary has conducted countless hands-on classes in the Sony Creative Software training center, as well as at tradeshows such as the National Association of Broadcasters show.