Sony Vegas Pro 12 Review



All right, now we're talking. The initial release of Vegas Pro 12 let us down with constant crashing and problems with our P2 media. Sony released an update on November 2nd that has us feeling much better about Vegas Pro 12 and its ability to handle P2 media natively. We tested it using the AVC-Intra 100 codec and about 100GB worth of files. We just dragged everything to the timeline. Vegas Pro 12 took a little time to catch up and draw the wav forms but everything was in synch and it didn't crash. Not removing Vegas 11 and Raylight from the system just yet but the latest update seems to have fixed the P2 issues.


We also dumped lots of different media into the timeline while very aggressivley jumping around, scrubbing, right clicking and trying to work very fast. So far, "Build 394" is much more stable than the initial release. If you recently made the jump to Vegas Pro 12 you should get the notification of the new software release automatically unless you've turned this off in the software or your NLE system isn't online. Be sure to grab the latest update here. Update: we're now on build 770 and it's been very stable.  Every now and then we have an issue rendering DNxHD but for the most part it's been quite good.

Audio is such an important part of what we do and after working in Media Composer, Premiere and Edius we really appreciate the audio capabilites of Vegas Pro 12.  

We experienced good peformance with HD footage taken on the Canon 5D Mark III. Vegas 12 is able to work with these files without the need to transcode to DNxHD or ProRes and the performance seems improved over Vegas 11. This is a huge time saver, especially under tight deadlines. For the next example, we shot the interviews using the 5D Mark III and dropped in additional broll from the Antartica expedition. We also mastered the sound and added some wind for the open. All done in the Vegas Pro 12 timeline. No transcoding and no roundtrips to another application.


We were really glad ot see the update to Vegas 12 because in our first version of this review Vegas Pro 12 was not functioning on all cylinders. The product marketing team did a good job of adding the right features to Vegas Pro 12 but the execution isn't entirely there. If Vegas 11 is working for you you might want to hold off on the upgrade. If Vegas 11 is crashing on you for whatever reason definitely run the trial of Vegas 12 to see if things improve. There are lots of new features but we're a little skeptical given our initial first impression. We imagine it will keep improving with subsequent updates and now that the P2 issues have been worked out it's much more compelling.

Sony's tech support group is very slow to respond. We usually find the various online forums to be a more effective way to get answers on little tweaks and fixes that can help performance. We encountered a scenario where the explorer tab in Sony Vegas Pro 12 no longer displayed the contents inside the folders. It just stopped working. We didn't make any changes to our preferences or the layout. Needless to say once you no longer have the ability to browse for files using the Explorer window in Sony Vegas it becomes very frustrating to use requiring you to toggle in and out of directories. Well, after quite a bit of searching, we tried a master reset of all our Vegas settings and that did the trick. Control + Shift during restart while launching Vegas and low and behold the Explorer tab returned to its normal operation.

One last thing to note is the GPU acceleration. We've experienced a couple of problems with plug-ins when GPU acceleration is turned on. So to keep things stable we've opted to keep it turned off. We didn't notice much of an improvement in performance anyway. This is an area where Sony could make some improvements and offer better real time previews at higher resolutions.

Test System: Supermicro Workstation Dual hexcore Xeons 24 GB memory SSD for OS and apps, SSDs and Velociraptors for data, Quadro 4000/video Windows 7 Pro. Other software that is running great on this system includes: Adobe CS6 Production Suite, Edius 6.5, Combustion, Sorenson Squeeze, AVID Media Composer, and Vegas 11.

Visit Sony for more information and all the specs on Sony Vegas Pro 12.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Review: Shooting Video




















We just finished this video shot solely on the Canon 5D Mark III. Originally, we were going to use the Sony EX3 or Panasonic HPX250, both which work very well in a conference setting where portability and a versatile lens are required. However, this time we opted for the Canon 5D Mark III to give the piece a little more of that cinematic look everyone is after these days.



Canon made some really nice improvements with the 5D Mark III including the improved 22.3 megapixel CMOS sensor, and 61-Point autofocus with extended ISO range. This camera is capable of taking great still and HD video making it extremely versatile, especially in tight situations. Of course, a handful of your favorite EF lenses are required to get the variety of shots you want.

One of the best parts of using a DSLR to shoot video is the ability to travel with less stuff and a smaller overall footprint. We easily fit everything in the hatch of a small wagon. For once, our audio engineer and DP were lugging the same amount of stuff. Sachtler sticks and a Zacuto Scorpion rig came in handy.

The downside to using a camera like the Canon 5D Mark III is you might find yourself in a situation where you don’t have the right lens on the camera to capture the shot you anticipated getting when the unexpected happens. However, for the most part with good planning we were able to swap lenses in time for most of what we wanted to shoot.  

Unlike the C300 that has proper XLR connectors the Canon 5D Mark III features a mini stereo plug. For our interviews we fed audio into the camera via mini stereo connectors from the Sound Devices mixer and also captured audio directly to compact flash on the mixer as a backup. Sure, we prefer the XLRs on the C300 for audio but in this form factor the mini-stereo plug worked just fine and having the backup files made us more comfortable.  Video was recorded in 1080p at 30fps using the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec in a .mov wrapper. At the end of nearly 2 full days of shooting we had about 110GB or data.

The video codec used on the 5D Mark III is not ideal for editing. On the same systems we edit AVC-Intra 100 and a variety of other source footage without any hiccups, the MPEG4 AVC codec used by the 5D tended to bog things down. When you think of how aggressively the codec works to maximize the amount of video that can be saved to flash memory it's not surprising.  We ended up rendering initial rough cuts of interviews and broll as AVID DNxHD files and working with these. This was well worth the extra step for better real time previewing and finishing.

Overall, we were very impressed with the 5D Mark III for capturing both stills and video and found it to be an incredibly versatile camera.

Visit Canon for more infomation on the 5D Mark III.

Leica D-Lux 6 Camera First Impression Review



Here are a few pics taken on the Leica D-Lux 6. The Leica D-Lux 6 is set to hit the market later this fall. We got a sneak peak at Photokina in Germany and recently spent more time with the D-Lux 6. It's a great little camera with excellent low light capabilities but we'd like better battery life. It's basically the D-Lux 5 with all the improvements we were hoping for. This includes a faster lens, a new 1.7" CMOS image sensor, ND filter, a new aperture setting feature on the lens barrel and improved HD video codec.

The Leica D-Lux 6 is fast. Very fast. It still requires the addition of the bottom hand grip to give it that little extra heft and make shooting more comfortable. The D-Lux 5 had some banding issues we experienced while shooting video. The D-Lux 6 solves this problem and should offer even better overall results with the combination of the new lens and sensor.

If you've been looking for the perfect point and shoot camera in a compact format that offers brilliant image quality be sure to have a very close look at the Leica D-Lux 6. It's easy and fun to use, the Panasonic build quality is first rate and it's absolutely packed with performance to make it a true pocket sized wonder.

Based on our experience with the D-Lux 5, we imagine the D-Lux 6 will become the preferred camera for travel and casual use among the professional set as well as consumers that seek pro results in a point and shoot.

Visit Leica for all the specs and more on the new D-Lux 6.

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