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Five Easy Pieces: Sony Pictures Announces—and Ships—Vegas 5 at NAB 2004
Posted Apr 19, 2004 Print Version     Page 1of 2 next »

The first Vegas announcement of NAB 2004 came out of Madison, Wisconsin, as Sony Pictures debuted a full-step upgrade to its popular pro software NLE, Vegas 5. The company also offered up a new version of Vegas' accompanying DVD authoring tool, DVD Architect 2. And unlike many of the other hot technologies and products unveiled at NAB, both Sony tools shipped April 19, the first day of the show. Vegas 5 lists for $699, and the Vegas+DVD Production Suite (including both Vegas 5 and DVD Architect 2) carries an MSRP of $999. An upgrade price of $199.95 is available to registered users of the full (non-LE) versions of previous iterations of Vegas.

Both Vegas and DVD Architect were among the properties picked up last summer when Sony Pictures acquired the desktop software assets of Sonic Foundry. Several aspects of the new product release demonstrate how Sony Pictures has integrated the two companies, and how the desktop software line is leveraging Sony's considerable size and sweep. Concurrent with the Vegas 5 release is the launch of the Sony Pictures Sound Effects series, a five-disc (so far) set of audio effects and field-recorded content drawn from the Sony motion picture archives. The 1200+ sounds range "from rollercoasters, room tones, and rocket launchers, to biplanes, Bengal tigers, and bar room brawls," according to Sony Pictures press materials.

Other evidence of the acquisition's impact is Vegas 5's native support of the Sony DSR-DU1 and DSR-DU100 Disc Recorder, which eliminate the capture step from the post-production process. "Why should bringing in files from my camera be a sensitive, real-time process like recording? Why can't I do it at 50X?" asks Sony Pictures media software director of engineering David Hill. Vegas 5 also includes native support for Sony's J-H3 HDCAM player via i.Link (FireWire) connectivity. Finally, Sony Electronics now holds sales and distribution rights to the media software line that includes Vegas and Vegas+DVD.

Key new features of Vegas 5 include an XP-like look, 3D Track Motion, and Compositing, with a track grouping model that allows multiple tracks to move and rotate in 3D space. Vegas 5 also enables users to produce keyframeable Bezier masks for complex objects, letting them track object outlines to mask and keyframe shape and motion changes over time. This translates into depth-of-field effects, the ability to apply color correction to specific sections of a clip, crop surrounding source material, and create mask overlays. "One of the problems with the video look,'" Hill says, "is no depth of field. Masking lets you create it artificially."

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