Magazine article Metro Magazine

Sonic Foundry Plays Its Ace in Vegas. (Technical Section)

Magazine article Metro Magazine

Sonic Foundry Plays Its Ace in Vegas. (Technical Section)

Article excerpt


Many might consider the world of software non-linear editors (NLEs) a flooded and sown-up market. AVID holds a name that still drags the suffix 'Industry Standard' around behind it. Apple successfully supplanted the fanaticism of its users onto its NLE, Final Cut Pro. While Adobe's Premiere maintains a very wide market share, by bridging both professional and amateur users.

No two ways about it, all three of these NLEs are powerful, efficient and effective. Everyone's got an opinion on which is the best but ultimately these sorts of judgements are based on little more than personal opinion and platform familiarity rather than technical fact.

So does the arrival of the new edition of Sonic Foundry's NLE, Vegas 4, into this pool of three very big fish, make any sort of splash? It's one thing to make a good NLE. It's quite another to make one good enough to make users switch platform.

Steve Jobs declared he and Apple were going to innovate their way out of the tech-sector down turn. Despite being exclusively Windows I think Sonic Foundry might have taken Mr Jobs' words to heart. Vegas 4 is not an NLE content to put a new spin on the same tools. Rather Vegas 4 might make quite a more substantial splash than the other three fish are expecting, by offering some features no other NLE seems to have yet tackled.

Arguably the most impressive and innovative elements offered by Vegas 4 are its tools for mixing Audio. Indeed Vegas itself began life solely as a multi-track audio editor. With Vegas 4 Sonic Foundry haven't forgotten their roots, offering a set of audio tools that stand head, shoulders and torso above any other NLE currently available.

Unlimited audio tracks is not new but routing those tracks to an unlimited number of audio buses, so tracks can be paired or grouped for real-time effects, compression and Eqing, will make any film-maker, who's keen to make the most of a good sound design, sweat visibly. And for live recording Vegas 4 incorporates real-time input monitoring across as many tracks as your processor can handle allowing recording straight to the time-line while monitoring existing tracks and effects on-the fly. Vegas 4's VU meters also give highly accurate sound level readings, something that unfortunately cannot be said for many other NLEs.

These touches will certainly make audio engineers, who've swapped faders for timelines, excited. But the real hook is the inclusion of Dolby 5.1 surround sound mixing. In a first for any NLE, Vegas 4 allows for individual tracks to be key-framed to pan sound across any of the 5 speakers (and the LFE subwoofer) in a surround sound system. The DVD edition of Vegas includes Sonic Foundry's DVD Architect authoring software and AC-3 encoder, licensed from Dolby, that allows for surround sound tracks to be burnt to DVD.

With the edition of a DVD burner (the price of which seems to be dropping by the day) this feature alone might make Vegas a worthwhile acquisition for any studio looking for a cost effective way to produce surround sound mixes. Not to mention the possibilities it presents to independent video makers working out of bedrooms and basements.

This time around, with version 4, Sonic Foundry seem determined to compete with the other three major NLEs for professional studio space. Vegas 3 was criticized for not having adequate EDL support for off-lining or high-end colour correction facilities. Sonic Foundry has made moves to address both these concerns in Vegas 4, particularly in offering primary and secondary colour balancing tools very close to those offered by Avid. Vegas 4 also incorporates spectrograph, waveform, histogram and channel parade monitors that, with testing, give very accurate results as well updating in real-time while editing.

That said, those who stand to benefit most from Vegas 4, and so will be potentially Sonic Foundry's most dynamic market, are the small producers and independents looking for a cost effective, stand alone, software solution that does just about everything they need out of one box. …

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