Archive for September 18th, 2009

Hitting a wall with Vegas

Quite a few Sony Vegas users read this blog, but I might have to move to CS4 or FCS soon. While Vegas is possibly the best *editor* in terms of usability, it doesn’t satisfy me regarding color grading — which is the main thing I do.

Even when using the 32bit mode to grade, I get blotches and ugly artifacts. Using a mask without having too much halo is impossible too. Using motion tracking is not supported. Basic color plugins like a vector-based rainbw-color plugin (like the super-buggy third party Aav6cc) are missing. And if that’s not enough, Red Giant Software has stopped maintaining Magic Bullet for Vegas, does not develop any new products for Vegas, and BorisFX also left the Vegas camp too a few months ago. In other words, Vegas becomes much-unsupported by third party plugins, and itself doesn’t have all the features (or the usability in the current tools) a colorist needs. In my view, Vegas is irrelevant right now, even if it has thousands of users and it gets a lot of new ones every day (who buy it because it’s the best *frame editor* for the price). The problem is with actual support (like on things I wrote here), advanced features, and the nonexistent third party plugin support.

Check this amazing grading done in AE by Charles-Etienne Pascal, where he didn’t use any third party plugins at all (special thanks to Charles-Etienne for letting me use the grabs). The outcome is milky. Doing a similar 32bit grading on Vegas resulted in visible artifacts (when viewed in 1:1). For some reason, Vegas’ own color plugins don’t take a lot of pushing before they show artifacts.

For those interested on how it was done, it involved 3 video tracks, one with a mask around the eyes to lower the gamma in them and make them visible, a track with a mask around the head to change the face color using Color Corrector, change the lighting on the face using bump map’s spotlight option, and some unsharpen mask, and a third track that changes the gamma/colors on the background to make it darker.

The easiest way to come somewhat close to that look without having to use all these tracks and masking, is by using the “punchy” Magic Bullet Looks template modified, and unsharpen mask.

Nevertheless, Adobe’s CS4 might be in my near future.