Sony Vegas Platinum 9

Sony Vegas Platinum 9, released a few days ago, is the most flexible consumer video editor out there. To me, it’s the best bang for the buck editor for the $85 it costs. Sony added full customization support on its h.264 encoder now, it has full 1920×1080 read/write AVCHD support, better HDV support and more. If you are looking for a cheap editor that’s full featured and not “dumb and drop” like iMovie or Ulead, then this is the one for you.

I have two problems with Platinum 9 though:

1. The newly added “new project” wizard. I think the wizard was a good idea, but the screen where it asks you what kind of project you want (e.g. DVD, Blu-Ray etc), is the worst thing ever. I really don’t understand how Sony could make such a tragic usability and technical error. You see, it’s very easy for someone to pick the DVD option while his/her source video is HD. Problem is, when this person comes back to that project weeks or months later and wants an HD export, several elements in the timeline will not automatically adjust to the new resolution (e.g. the text frame sizes must be changed manually throughout the video if the project properties change). Let alone that most people don’t know in the first place that they must adjust the project properties before export in HD (and that can lead to massive quality loss). Heck, there’s not even a 1920×1080 option in that list! To add to that, editing in a non-native resolution/frame rate, has up to 50% speed decrease in overall performance. So what the hell was Sony thinking when introduced this wizard that asks what your target export is? Don’t they know that people export in more than one formats/targets? Don’t they know that most people don’t even use the project properties so they won’t go change them before exporting in HD? Don’t they know that performance goes down? Thankfully, for those few of us who know, there is still the “match media” icon in the project properties dialog. Moral of the story: always edit in the native properties of your video. Decide how to export at the very end. All Sony needed to do in the wizard was to launch the “match media” procedure instead of the “how do you want to export” dialog. On a mixed-format project, all it was needed was to ask the user to “match” a file that represents the dominant format of the project.

2. After enough bickering, Sony added 1920×1080 AVCHD export in the free update v9.0a (the original v9.0 didn’t support this). Unfortunately, the AVCHD “custom” export screen still doesn’t let you specify 24p even if it easily could let you do that (23.976 frame rate and progressive field order, that is). Consumer camcorders like the Panasonic SD9 support such formats. While this omission doesn’t affect everybody, there is no workaround.

If Sony fixes these two issues, I think we are looking at a near-perfect consumer editor.

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