Technology

Sony Vegas 4.0 With DVD Architect

Audio, Video and DVD Authoring With Ease 4/01/2004 7:00 AM Eastern

Sony Vegas 4.0 With DVD Architect

Apr 1, 2004 12:00 PM, By Joe Hannigan

Audio, Video and DVD Authoring With Ease

Sony's (formerly Sonic Foundry's) Vegas 4.0 bundled with DVD Architect began life as an audio editor and added video later, so the interface makes a lot of sense for audio folks. Everything you'll need is right nearby, with seven drop-down menus that contain all of the necessary tools and DSP to take your video project from source input to DVD. These include a powerful video editor with built-in audio editor (based on Sound Forge), customizable video and audio plug-ins, and stereo and 5.1 mixing capability with bundled Dolby AC3 encoding.

CAPTURING SOURCE VIDEO
Your video project (.VEG) starts with imported video (and audio, of course). Vegas supports all of the major codecs, frame rates and compression schemes, and the video capture applet, which allows you to control your playback or capture device, gives you the option to capture in batches with pre-determined in/out points or on-the-fly as needed. Once you've marked your in and out points on the tape, you can reverse-click any number of the clips to mark them for batch capture. Click on the Batch Capture button, and each clip is imported automatically with sequential numbering. (Make sure you're working with a tape that has continuous timecode; the Batch Capture feature depends on this!)

Once you've imported a file or selected it from the browser, there are handles for fades, drag-and-drop, Lock and Unlock buttons, and Solo and Mute buttons. There's even color correction and adjustments that let you match the look and feel of different sources. You can use video and audio effects on the individual clips that you've imported or as a universal setting for the entire track; the same Select button exists on the left side of the timeline and on each individual clip. You can save and load any custom setting with the Load/Save buttons in the effects screen. It's easy to recall and modify your favorite settings for future projects, and, of course, with Vegas, you can safely create folders that won't be altered when you remove a finished project from your system. The templates stay, even when the project is removed.

WHY WAIT FOR RENDERS?
Vegas lets you see most changes in real time. Even with a Pentium 3, you can see most of what you're doing without having to wait around for most renders. Granted, the frame rate is lower, but you will have a good idea of what you're working on and whether you're in the ballpark. As anyone who's had to wait around for those infamous renders knows, this alone is a tremendous boost to workflow and creativity. (Vegas can even continue to play the timeline or render while you make adjustments, without any lag.) Of course, it's possible to overload the real-time feature, so nonessential effects can be temporarily toggled off while you check your work. Another way to check your progress is using the split-screen (before/after) effect, accessible via the half-moon icon in the monitor window. This also runs in real time.

BRINGING IN DVD AUTHORING
DVD Architect 1.0 is capable of importing only one MPEG file per project. This means that any video you want to appear in your disc has to first be rendered as part of the same master MPEG file in Vegas. While you can set your chapter points in DVD Architect later, it's simpler and more accurate to set them first in Vegas before exporting to MPEG. They will automatically appear where you set them once you're working in DVD Architect. (Chatter on the forums says future versions may allow importing multiple files.)

When exporting your project from Vegas to work in DVD Architect, highlight the total length of the project and do two exports: one video and one audio. For video, select Main Concept Mpeg2 with the DVD-Architect NTSC Video Stream subheading in the drop-down menu. For audio, select Dolby Digital AC-3 encoding. It's important to give them the same names and save them in the same folder (“D:ProjectDemo1.MPG and D:ProjectDemo1.AC3,” etc.). This way, DVD-Architect will automatically import and sync one with the other.

SINGLE-PLAY OR MENU-DRIVEN?
DVD Architect allows you to import the files you've created into either a single-play disc that runs automatically upon insertion in a player or a menu-driven disc for more sophisticated projects. For single play, name the project in a new folder, render and burn to DVD.

For menu-driven discs, there are numerous options. Although DVD Architect 1.0 allows only one MPEG file per movie, you can create and import an entirely new video clip (with AC3 audio) as a menu backdrop. Most graphic formats are also recognized if you prefer a still-image menu. Background music can come from a variety of sources, but you should convert to AC3 first in Vegas to avoid additional rendering. There's also a check box to select looped or single-play menus. Text or thumbnails that are created on the menu screen can be linked to submenus or specific chapter points in the project.

The Preview button/applet works like a virtual DVD player, complete with remote and function buttons. You can navigate menus and play clips as you work, thus previewing your DVD in progress before committing to a burn. You can also toggle a “safe area” grid to preview your work for older/consumer TV screens.


Joe Hannigan runs Weston Sound & Video (Philadelphia), recording classical and jazz clients. Matthew Conant also contributed to this piece.



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