The Top-10 MUST FIX features for Vegas

Sony Vegas is the editor of my choice, but it’s far from perfect. In fact, depending on what kind of footage you are throwing at it, it might even be the worst tool for the job. This is my top-10 must-fix feature requests that I would like Sony to take care of. While this is “my” list, it is very much influenced by questions and bug reports users online are over-flowing Vegas forums with. In order:

1. MP4/MOV support
MPEG4 footage from digicams and digirecorders (MPEG4-SP and MPEG4-AVC) is a no-go with Vegas. We are talking about super-slow previewing, and crashes right from the minute you populate the project media, or randomly later when you edit. Especially when using KODAK mpeg4-SP footage from their digicams, and you change the window focus away from Vegas, the media are “going offline”, and they don’t ever come back to life (or it takes some ridiculously long time to do). Curiously, AVCHD support is not bad at all on Vegas, but that’s because it’s using internally an optimized decoder for it, while for MP4/MOV it’s using the stock Quicktime or MainConcept decoders that Vegas doesn’t like working with very much. Given that even cheap digicams now do HD (and with good quality too), more and more users are throwing away their home camcorders and go digicam-only. It affects more users than Sony would be comfortable to admit (and don’t let me start in the whole Canon 5D video subculture that’s now very strong). It’s their loss, since these users will have to eventually shop for another editor that handles these formats better.

2. SonyAVC encoder crashes
This is a much reported issue: the SonyAVC encoder crashing reproducibly when exporting in higher 1080i/1080p resolutions. Unfortunately, no fix has been released for it, over a year after it was first reported repeatedly. This is poor support, right there. I stumble on it so often on my own installation and on online forums that I can’t hold back my anger any longer for this bug not getting fixed.

3. No intermediate codec
Vegas ships right now with no serious intermediate codec in its ranks. One has to realistically pony up $500 to buy Cineform NeoHD to be able to export to that codec via Vegas. Unfortunately, using free intermediate codecs, like Huffyuv and Lagarith, they suck compared to Cineform; while Vegas is simply not optimized for the Avid’s freeware DNxHD codec. All these free codecs playback at 5-7 fps, while Cineform is real time. Obviously, this is a case where Sony should pay up for a new engineer to come and optimize DNxHD (and maybe do a deal with AVID too). I don’t hold my breath though.

4. Defaults: Disable Resampling and Interpolation deinterlacing
Defaults matter. This is true for any piece of software. 99% of Vegas’ users’ footage sucks quality-wise because they use the defaults: resampling and blend fields. Both these options create such big amount of ghosting, that it’s not even funny. Blend fields creates ghosting every time there’s movement in the frame (which is all the time for normal users who usually are handheld), and resampling kicks in every time a user slow-motion’s his footage, or he drops his 30p digicam footage on an NTSC timeline. Sony must change these defaults to catter for these users, and let the professionals (who are fewer in number) change these if they have to. At least the pros would supposedly know what to do.

5. Project Properties Wizard
When you start a new project on Platinum, you get this retarted dialog of “how you would like to export”, and then it configures your project properties according to your exporting needs rather than the source footage’s properties. I have extensively explained here why this is the worst idea EVER.

6. Proxy editing
With support for RED’s footage, and even the very demanding Canon 5D format, Sony might need to work in implementing proxy editing. Right now there is a proxy script, but it only works in the PRO version of Vegas, while my own method that works with both Vegas versions, is a bit too complex for most people to put it around their heads.

7. Stabilization plugin
Come on now. Even iMovie got one of these! People just shoot handheld crap all the time. This is a must-have. Buying the third party Boris-FX stabilization plugin for $200 is something a family man (who is the person most in need for it) would never do. This must be part of the default Vegas package.

8. Up to 16x speed, and speed control
Currently, you can only slow-mo or speed up your footage up to 4x. That’s just not enough for me in many cases. In the Pro version there are Velocity Envelopes that allow you to go faster/slower than 4x, but that’s just not precise handling. Then, there’s the whole controling of the speed issue: it doesn’t interpolate interlaced footage like After Effects does to make 60p out of 60i and create smoother slow-mo. Neither it let’s you specify speed rate in percentages (so you can’t shoot a sped-up music video in 30p NTSC and slow-it down at 25p PAL — right now, you have to shoot 30p, slow it down to 24p, and then use a convoluted tutorial to re-time it to 25p, a hot mess).

9. Support for Adobe Bridge
The truth is, Vegas is an editing app, not an effects one. A common problem professionals have is to which format to export from Vegas to After Effects. It would be easier if Vegas was to somehow support Adobe Bridge, so sending and receiving footage from AE is easier. I personally have AE installed, and I can’t get bothered with it just because integration between the two apps is not good. Too much of a pain. And for those who want to get bothered, they might even leave Vegas for Premiere. There’s money in this feature: by keeping your existing pros on your side.

10. DirectShow support
Vegas only has support for encoders/decoders that use the ancient “Video for Windows” standard, rather than the newer “DirectShow” one. Premiere and most other video editors support both. Without supporting DirectShow you can’t use for example, the accelerated CoreAVC decoder, or any hardware-assisted h.264 encoders, or other devices and codecs that use the newer protocol. This terribly limits Vegas to only support older codecs that happen to be installed on the system, and only those who work under the “AVI” world.

*. Joker, wild card: Per-color vector plugin
We need a powerful color grading plugin that let’s you do everything this plugin does. Unfortunately, while this plugin almost does a lot of what’s needed for serious color grading (full control over the rainbow colors), it’s unstable as hell. Even the new version of that plugin, from the same developer, is even more unstable. We need something like it, officially. Especially since Red Giant Software doesn’t care porting their Colorista app on Vegas, this is one more reason to put an engineer working on that. Magic Bullet doesn’t give you control on what I am describing btw.

In conclusion, there’s all the clean up that needs to be done, e.g. fix DVD-import A/V sync issues, DivX/XViD bug fixes with the XViD decoder, more options on the media manager (e.g. visual cues if a clip is already used in the timeline or not), DVDs templates now exporting in lower field only, streaming support in AVC/MainConcept h.264 encoders, VBR encoding in SonyAVC, AVCHD progressive/24p/bitrate editable exporting options, easier re-timing of footage, importing AVCHD elementary streams, more pulldown removal/addition support (e.g. PF24), optimized WMV editing, etc etc. But the above 10 are the most important ones, and the top-5 are what most users would hit before you can even say “huh?”


Mateusz Szczurek wrote on June 30th, 2009 at 12:15 AM PST:

> AVCHD progressive/24p/bitrate editable exporting options

You mentioned in another post that “AVCHD “custom” export screen still doesn’t let you specify 24p”. Is it still true in the 9.0b version? I thought I can set the frame rate as such.

And frankly I was never totally certain if Panasonic SD-9 shoots true 24p or with pulldown. It looks like it is true progressive?

Lucasberg wrote on June 30th, 2009 at 6:34 AM PST:

#4 & #7 would be huge for the stuff I like to do. It is a pain to remember to deselect disable resample everytime and like you said a Stabilization plugin should be standard by now.

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Eugenia wrote on June 30th, 2009 at 9:33 AM PST:

Mateusz, no, Platinum 9.0b doesn’t let you specify your own frame rate, resolution, progressiveness, and bitrate above 16 mbps when trying to export with the SonyAVC/AVCHD format.

I don’t know about SD9, I think it also has pulldown added.

himanshu wrote on June 30th, 2009 at 12:23 PM PST:

I just want the colorista plugin to work with vegas. I dont want to shift to premiere or fcp to color correct 🙁

Whenever i have to fiddle with colors, i have to use after effects. Final cut and premier users get to use a lot of fantastic plugins.

But no matter what, i am not switching to anything else for editing. Vegas is definately the most user friendly editing app out there 😀

himanshu wrote on June 30th, 2009 at 12:25 PM PST:

and yes…me want better slow mo too 🙁

Jara wrote on July 1st, 2009 at 11:53 AM PST:

You can specify exact slowmo when you add velocity curve and adjust it. You can export your video and slow it down again. Also you can use Velocity curve and shrink the file (ctrl and drag the end) at the same time – I believe that this gives you 9x times slower/faster speed. Not sure on this one.

I miss stabilization plugin, changing velocity of the clip and audio as well (you can change the sound by shrinking the file but you can not create nice slow ramped video with Velocity curves)

I would also love better options with masking, better usage of transparency layers (when adding titles and graphics).

Mateusz Szczurek wrote on July 1st, 2009 at 12:44 PM PST:

Eugenia, I’ve just been trying to export a 23,97p project, and I can set everything as needed, screenshot here . Did you mean something else, or is it the trial version I am still using which is better? 😉
Also, I cannot see any ghosting problems with the exported file (despite of it being 1080p best render quality)…
A 720p version of the file I rendered (best, 6mbps, 10MB total), I remember about your internet transfer limits :). Arms, birds (around 3-4s into the clip) look all right to me, ropes are blurred because of shutter speed.

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Eugenia wrote on July 1st, 2009 at 12:56 PM PST:

>You can specify exact slowmo when you add velocity curve and adjust it.

I can’t see how. I want to input specific numbers/percentages. The dialog that let’s you do that only goes up to 4x. And I definitely don’t want to export and re-speed it.

>screenshot here. Did you mean something else

I meant the AVCHD exports. You didn’t try to export in AVCHD, that’s why it worked for you. AVCHD should go up to 24 mbps. Please be more careful of what I speak about.

>Also, I cannot see any ghosting problems

Ghosting is there with blend fields (and resampling under some conditions, e.g. frame rate changes). Interpolation is much cleaner. ARE YOU SURE you exported with blend fields? Also, your shutter speed is really high in that video, that’s not how most people shoot.

There’s no point trying to debunk what’s already acknowledged by people who know what they are talking about btw. You already made a mistake above not reading carefully what I meant, I am thinking that the ghosting issue is one such case too. You probably already exported with interpolation.

Mateusz Szczurek wrote on July 1st, 2009 at 1:52 PM PST:

> ARE YOU SURE you exported with blend fields?
Why would I want to do that? The clip was shot in 24p to start with, it is not deinterlaced at all. I was looking for botched/non-existent pulldown-removal ghosting. I should have stated the source file more clearly, my test was in reference to your SD9 pulldown hypothesis. Sony Vegas does not seem to have any problems with dealing with the 24p file from SD9.

> There’s no point trying to debunk what’s already acknowledged
It’s farthest away from my mind, I am just trying to understand what the limitations you write about really mean for me. It appears Vegas Platinum can deal with Panasonic SD9 24p AVCHD files (without prior pulldown removal), and custom export to mp4 using Sony AVC codec (up to 20mbps). If it is indeed true, it is good enough for me, I can always use tsmuxer to burn an AVCHD dvd if needed.
Thanks for suffering my ignorance, I am coming from still photography background

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Eugenia wrote on July 1st, 2009 at 2:04 PM PST:

>Why would I want to do that?

If you can not understand what I am writing here, then please do NOT reply and pollute this thread with things that are going to confuse the future readers of this article.

The ghosting problem from blending fields is for INTERLACED content, which is what most camcorders shoot at. I talked about interlacing, and you bloody used a 24p progressive file to disprove my point???? Where’s the logic in that? And besides, even with 24p, if you change the frame rate or slow-mo the file, you will get ghosting because of resampling (which is a different issue to de-interlacing’s ghosting).

>and custom export to mp4 using Sony AVC codec (up to 20mbps).

JEEZ. You DID NOT try to export as AVCHD, using an actual AVCHD template, and THEN try to export at 20 mbps. You will see that if you try that, the dialog RESETS the bitrate number back to 16 mbps. But in order to see the problem you have to SPECIFICALLY choose to edit an AVCHD exporting template.

You have so many things tangled in your mind that need untangling. You need to learn more, and read more carefully. This is a lot like I am telling you that “I am going to fry some potatoes in oil”, and you reply “here’s some water to boil them”. That’s the kind of non-understanding you have right now, which doesn’t sit well with me. Please stop replying, you are in the wrong.

Mateusz Szczurek wrote on July 1st, 2009 at 2:22 PM PST:

> more pulldown removal/addition support (e.g. PF24),
> I don’t know about SD9, I think it also has pulldown added.

Oh, come on now, I was referring to the two lines cited above and was never mentioning point 4 of the original article.
Why would I want to argue with you, or disprove any point? It now looks neither of us reads what the other writes.

> Please stop replying, you are in the wrong.
Sorry I did – but you can delete the post 🙂
All the best, get well, M.

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Eugenia wrote on July 1st, 2009 at 2:34 PM PST:

No, you said “I see no ghosting”, which is what I replied to. You need to learn to STRUCTURE your replies and be clear or what you are writing. But even then, you still have things tangled in your head. You talked about no-ghosting on a plain 24p file (while my blog post is about resampling/de-interlacing), and you talked about being able to go at 20 mbps with SonyAVC (while I clearly said that the limitation is ONLY when you try to export via an AVCHD template). So yes, you are the one who needs to read more carefully and be 100% sure that what you use to TEST my claims against, is exactly what I describe, and not random footage you have around that only applies *in your case*.

To test my two points (ghosting, AVCHD bitrate), you must:
1. Use interlaced content (most users shoot interlaced). Must have some motion.
2. Use blend fields in the project properties, which is the Vegas default. Creates ghosting.
3. Slow-mo that content, to see the resampling kick in (default). Creates *additional* ghosting.
4. When exporting via SonyAVC, you _must_ pick an AVCHD template to edit and try to export in over 16 mbps. Won’t let you do it.

Then, redo the same thing, but with interpolation as deinterlacing, and with resampling disabled. NOTICE the much cleaner output you get this way!

So, without doing these steps exactly as I said above, then you testing my claims can’t be done correctly, because they don’t apply to the issues I described.

mathewaugustus wrote on July 4th, 2009 at 6:31 PM PST:

I would also love to see a built in proxy editing/intermediate codec system put in place. I have been able to find 3rd party plugins that help but yeah, seems like something they should introduce natively for sure.

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