First Look: Vegas Pro 17

I have been using Vegas Pro since the very beginning (version 0.9) when it was a product of US company Sonic Foundry, along with stablemates Sound Forge and ACID. I even had a hand in helping write some tutorial manuals with my good mate Douglas Spotted Eagle.

Through its various versions since then, and two owners later (Sony and now German based MAGIX) – although the same engineering team has mostly been retained –  Vegas Pro has matured and now boasts a feature set putting it right up there with the heavyweights in the NLE world such as AVID Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut X, DaVinci Resolve and Grass Valley EDIUS.

In the last few weeks, MAGIX slipped out Vegas Pro 17 along with a companion program, Vegas Post. I have taken Vegas Pro 17 for a play, but as I have only just got our greasy fingers on Post, I’ll give you my thoughts on that in a few days, time, but it does look the duck’s guts I have to say.

What’s New

Version 17 is quite an upgrade from 16, with a lot of tweaking to existing features and the addition of a couple of major new ones. Probably the biggie here is the ability to have Nested Timelines allowing Vegas to become a true collaborative tool for multiple editors.

For example, let’s say you have one person whose sole job is titles, another does the main body editing and a third is in charge of audio sweetening. With Vegas 17, you simply create a master timeline and a Nested Timeline for each of the different editors within this master.

They can then happily toddle off and do their own thing in their own timeline (*.veg file) and when the time comes, the master editor simply pulls the three external Nested Timelines back into the Master. All the reassembling, linking etc is done by Vegas autotragically.

There is a quick tutorial on the methodology at :

Vegas has now an included Collaboration Centre, further upping the collaboration stakes where you can attach notes to your project if you want to hand it to someone else. The notes can be tagged as “resolved” and resolved notes can be hidden.

Colour grading has been ramped up dramatically. To many of us, Colour Grading is a black art, but for those in the know, the addition of a dedicated screen area for such things as Input LUT, Colour Wheels, Colour Curves, HSL, White Balance and other related tools for Colour Grading is “about time too”.

This dedicated Colour Grading screen can stay open to apply the desired colour grading to the different events, instead of opening each event’s FX chain and loading the colour FX separately as you have to do with earlier versions of Vegas.

The current buzzword / acronym of HDR has had major enhancements too, with GPU based processing now supported as is HDR preview, HDR specific colour grading and HLG support.

Additionally, LUT Export lets you save effects from an effects chain into a CUBE file.

Along with HDR, some more new formats have been added including an “experimental” WMV. Others include 10bit intermediate, ProRes 4444 with embedded alpha (yay!) NVENC 10but HEVC rendering and hardware based decoding for AVC and HEVC.

The Vegas engineers have decided they like the word Warp. No not in a StarTrek way, or even an old (but very good) IBM operating system, to challenge Windows way (no really!) but in terms of transitions and a plug in.

The Warp Flow transition automatically fixes jump cuts by synthesizing movement. The Smart Split command cuts out parts of an event and applies the Warp Flow transition to conceal the cut.

Mesh Warp plug-in on the other hand is used for creative deformation of your footage, or, when you set the grid size to 1×1 it gives you four corner points to quickly conform your video to a non-rectangular four-sided surface.

A new Lens Correction plug-in has also been added to compensate distortions from wide-angle lens systems as used in action cams. Think GoPro Hero 7, DJI Action Cam and the Sony Action FDR-X3000 for example.

Speaking of which, the stabilization engine has had a going over and it is now when used on event level, it is possible to visualize the motion tracks of the stabilization.

If Storyboards are your thing (they are one of those things that like FinalDraft software, you wonder how you ever managed without them), flexibility has been improved by allowing he same piece of media to a single storyboard, and any thumbnails reflect the “in” point of the media that is used in the timeline.

Lesser additions also include a new slideshow creator, which for me is a bit of a yawn but hey, anything to stop people using PowerPoint has to be a good thing right? Plus, you get an Adjustable Colour temperature enhancement to White Balance plug-in, Audio synchronization for multicam, and 8K support.

Why 8K at this time? I dunno either. Probably because they can I guess, but who can afford an 8K camera as yet? Not me.

Enhancements

There are some UI enhancements that are in the most cases useful as against ground breaking such as a warning when deleting a track with events on it, event length display in the header, option to ignore event grouping, an indicator showing if  FX have been applied to an event and a “Confirm” when stopping a render by cancelling.

An Easy mode for beginners has been added and the Screen Capture utility will now capture video streams from a browser such as Chrome or Firefox or from a video game, slo-mo operation with a new super slo-mo has been improved and the motion tracking functionality introduced in version 16 of Vegas Pro beefed up.

Conclusion

I have yet to create anything remote longer form in version 17, but already I am noticing a far more stable version than what 16 gave me and version 17 is noticeably faster.

The increased functionality in the areas of motion tracking and colour grading are especially most welcome (nested timelines don’t really apply to me although I can see the logic of breaking large projects into smaller chunks for even single users).

The main thing though I feel, is that while Vegas Pro was often seen as the poor cousin to the biggies of AVID, Adobe and FCP in particular, it can now throw that shackle off and stand proud in its own right.

Version 17 means Vegas Pro is now all growed up if you like.

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