Last month I wrote about my experiences with Premiere Elements 4 and how useless a piece of software it has turned out to be. At the time I was struggling to be able to find another piece of software that had similar functionality and so forth, until I discovered there is a cut down version of Sony Vegas, Vegas Movie Studio currently in v9. The initial testing with a demo version seemed straightforward enough but serious editing has had to wait until I could purchase a license. Our local Sonystyle shop was very helpful in getting a copy sent down from Auckland overnight so I will forgive them for having relocated to the odious Westfield Riccarton mall. Having managed to get out of there still sane, I installed Vegas Movie Studio along with DVD Architect onto my optimised Vista box – which is basically the Vista side of this dual boot PC, with a minimal installation of applications, on the hardware side it does have 2 GB of RAM, an extra HDD just for video, two Lightscribe DVD writers and a third writer. I’m looking forward to testing it out to see if it can burn a DVD and two LS labels all at the same time.
Now the contrast with Premiere Elements could not have been more extreme, from the fact that Vegas installed very smoothly, to getting a project started, getting its steps done and outputting it all in a couple of hours. Although I have yet to master the DVD which requires the separate Architect package that I haven’t yet used, and although Vegas does have its own quirks and learning curve, it is a huge improvement, even if just one thing, the fact it can read the MPEG files from the camera almost natively, is recognised. But VMS turns out to be a whole lot more, as in a whole lot more stable, a whole lot more reliable, a whole lot quicker and so on and so on. One tip is that you really need to update to release 9.0b because the version on the install DVD which is 9.0a will not be able to open an AC3 audio stream on MPEG files that use this audio format and so your production will have no soundtrack. Once I got the upgrade installed, the audio was recognised without any hiccups and everything went very smoothly. With cameras that use their own “special” MPEG format (like JVC Everios with the MOD files) you may find it useful to download a utility from the Internet that changes the file format slightly from MOD to a proper MPEG. I did make use of this tool (SDCopy) in the process of trying to work out why there was no sound in the clips but it turned out to be the Vegas version being the issue with the fix in v9.0b for MPEG AC3 sound. So all in all it looks very much like Vegas is massively better value for money than Premiere Elements.
And so to DVD Architect – a simple matter of pressing a button at the end of the VMS render, with all the scene markers already created and saved – then it turned out to be a very simple process to set up menus – and unlike Premiere Elements, still not one single crash. I am just getting ready to burn a sample DVD to take home with me for testing out, then there’s just a little bit of work tomorrow to get the Lightscribe label set up and burn a master for the school to sell to people who want it.