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Vegas Pro 11 Editing Workshop

Vegas Pro 11 Editing Workshop

by Douglas Spotted Eagle

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Go beyond the mechanics of Vegas 11 with award-winning Vegas guru Douglas Spotted Eagle as he guides you through an industry-tested professional editing workflow.  Packed with hands-on tutorials, this edition covers a complete range of essential tasks from installing the application to final output, allowing you to gain practical knowledge regardless of your


Go beyond the mechanics of Vegas 11 with award-winning Vegas guru Douglas Spotted Eagle as he guides you through an industry-tested professional editing workflow.  Packed with hands-on tutorials, this edition covers a complete range of essential tasks from installing the application to final output, allowing you to gain practical knowledge regardless of your editing experience.  Vegas Movie Studio is also fully covered alongside Vegas 11, showing what you can accomplish in both programs.  Bonus materials on the DVD include training tutorials, raw video footage, project files, and detailed instructions, enabling you to gain a working knowledge of Vegas, including its compositing, audio features, and robust 3D workflow. 

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Vegas Pro 11 Editing Workshop

By Douglas Spotted Eagle

Focal Press

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-240-82381-2

Chapter One

THE FASST START GUIDE: Introduction and Importing Video

In this first section, we're going to go through a speed-session on using Sony Vegas. Only basic information relevant to setting up Vegas, importing media to Vegas and the timeline, basic editing features, and output will be covered. If you're an experienced Vegas user, you may wish to skip forward to "Turning Up" (Going Deeper in Sony Vegas).

This chapter assumes that Vegas is already loaded on the computer, either by the user or as an included application in a software bundle. If Vegas isn't installed, install Vegas and DVD Architect now.

Let's get started!

Open Vegas for the first time, and you'll note that there are three predominant areas in the graphical user interface (GUI): the Docking windows, the Preview window, and the Trackspace/ Timeline.

Vegas Movie Studio Users will see a pop-up window suggesting different methods of using the software. For this exercise, please select "Start using Vegas Movie Studio."

The Docking windows are where the Vegas Explorer, access to FX, Transitions, and other editing tools may be found. These windows are called "Docking windows" because they are moveable and user-definable as to how they are laid out. See the "Turning Up" section for more information on how Docking windows may be configured for user-defined layouts.

The Preview window is where Events on the timeline will be viewed in their current state. This is where you'll visualize the finished video as it is being edited. There are several controls in this window. For purposes of getting started in Vegas, please choose the Preview Quality of "Preview (Auto)" in the drop-down menu. Learn more about Preview window settings in the "Turning Up" section of this book.

You'll get the best editing performance if you set the properties of your project to match the media contained in the project. In the upper left corner of the Preview window, there is a small white box. Click this box to open Project Properties. Project Properties is where you'll find settings to best match your media. If your media comes from a typical HD camcorder, you'll want to set the Properties to match this screenshot.

HD camcorders can only shoot either 1280 x 720 (less common), 1440 x 1080 (somewhat common), or "Full HD," 1920 x 1080. However, regardless of what kind of camera was used, Vegas will create the correct project settings when the "Adjust Source Media to better match Project or Render Settings" tickbox is checked.

With these settings out of the way, now we can bring media into the application. This assumes you are using a file-based camcorder (one that records to HDD, Flash media, or DVD). If you are using a tape-based camcorder, please see the section at the end of this chapter.


If actual camera media is not available, you can use files found on the DVD contained in the back of this book. The files on the DVD are in numerical order, and should be imported in ascending order for the best editing experience.

Media may be imported to Vegas using a variety of methods; we're going to demonstrate the simplest one in this FASST Start Guide. File-based video cameras do not require files to be transferred to a computer hard drive when working with Vegas, yet it's always a good idea to transfer files from the camcorder device to a hard drive prior to editing. Not only does this generate an archive/copy of the files, but it also will allow for faster editing, preview, and render of a finished project.

If your camcorder is a file-based device, find the device in your Windows Explorer. Traverse down the folder hierarchy and open the folder that contains the actual video files (often in a folder called "Streams, DCIM, or MP_Root) and select all the files you'd like to copy by holding the CTRL key and clicking on each file to be transferred. Another method is to select the first file, hold SHIFT, and select the last file. Doing so will select all files in between the first selected and last selected files. (These are standard Windows conventions.) Use CTRL+C for "copy" and then browse to the directory in which you'd like to place your files. Be sure to properly name file folders with a name, date, or other indicator related to the media being transferred. This makes it easier to locate media later in the editing process. In a file-based workflow, it's easy to lose track of files when they're named "001.mts," etc.

As mentioned, you don't have to transfer files in order to work with them. Vegas allows you to edit files directly off the camcorder. For dailies, for quick views, or for files that aren't life-death-of-production critical, editing directly off the camera is certainly acceptable. In other chapters of this book, we'll discuss how to save a project edited straight from a camcorder, saving either entire files used in the project, or saving only the portions of files used in the finished edit. For now, we'll discuss a basic edit right off the card.

In the upper left corner of the Vegas GUI, there is a tab labeled "Explorer." Select this tab. If for some reason the tab is not visible, use the keyboard shortcut ALTþ1, or navigate to VIEW | Explorer to open the Vegas Explorer window.

This window acts exactly like the Windows Explorer, allowing users to find and select media files for use in the Vegas project. In this window, find the Auto-Preview button. When enabled, this feature allows users to select a file in the Vegas Explorer window and the file will auto-play, demonstrating what file has been selected. This is a very efficient means of finding files that are created in a file-based workflow (usually with numeric names and extension, such as 0001.mts). Enable AutoPreview for this exercise.

Starting with My Computer, browse to a video file in the Vegas Explorer. Select the file. Double-clicking the file will insert the file to the timeline; if your intent is to merely select or preview the file, do not double-click, only select/single click the file.

In the bottom area of the Vegas Explorer, Vegas will provide vital information about the file. Notice that a selected file displays file resolution, frame rate, length of file, codec, audio format, stereo/mono, and audio compression format information. This is a very fast method of determining the properties of a media file without actually opening a File Properties dialog. As you become more familiar with Vegas and various workflows, this information may aid you in setting up Vegas projects.

Capture the Flag

More Capture Topics in Sony Vegas

The concept of "capture" in digital video is a nomenclature predominantly left over from days gone by. "Capture" or "digitizing" is actually done at the camera when dealing with digital formats such as DV, HDV, XDCAM, and advanced video codec–high definition (AVCHD). As you've seen above, transferring media from the camcorder to the computer is simply a data transfer. The media does not change; it is bit-for-bit the same. Compression has already occurred in the camcorder/recording device stage, whereas in the analog video past, a camera captured uncompressed images and the capture card would compress the video into a data stream that the computer could manage.

Importing AVCHD/AVC

Advanced video codec–high definition is a fairly new format in the video industry, and Vegas is capable of importing AVCHD and AVC content. These highly compressed formats have several codecs that various manufacturers may use; at the time of this writing, Vegas imports AVCHD from all Sony and Panasonic camcorders, and AVC from Canon camcorders, HDSLR devices and most small-format cameras, and allows for native editing of these files.

AVCHD/AVC media may be recorded on an HDD unit, DVD-based camcorder, or some form of static memory such as the Sony Memory Stick, Compact Flash, or SDHC.


Although possible (and demonstrated above), it is recommended that users in a production or critical environment never attempt to edit video directly from the card. The editing experience will be much better from a hard drive due to the highly compressed format's CPU requirements and transfer ratio.

Depending on the camcorder, users may or may not have to use an import application. For example, all Sony video cameras using AVCHD or MPEG 2 are bundled with Picture Motion Browser for import of video/stills, yet users of Vegas will not need this additional software. The camcorder may be connected directly to the computer via USB, or the card may be inserted into a card reader, and then viewed through the Vegas Explorer or Device Manager. Select the files individually or as a group in the Vegas Explorer, and drag and drop them to a location where you'd like the files to be stored. The dragged/dropped files will not appear in the Project Media window, however. Once these files are added to the Vegas Timeline, they will appear in the Project Media window. Using the Device Manager will import these files to the Project Media window.

Be sure to set Vegas to the file properties closest to the output of the AVCHD camcorder. Most AVCHD camcorders are 1920 x 1080, which means that the HD 1920 x 1080 project preset should be selected.

AVCHD/AVC is highly compressed. The CPU is going to be working quite hard to decode the video information and display it in the Preview window.

Only the very fastest, most optimized computer systems will be able to preview AVCHD/AVC at full frame rates. As computers grow faster and applications are better optimized to deal with AVCHD/AVC, preview speeds will improve. In the meantime, there are tools such as VASST Ultimate S or NewBlueFX's UpShift which may be used to convert the AVCHD/AVC files to a more efficient intermediate file format such as HDV or Cineform codecs.

AVCHD/AVC comes in multiple flavors, or "profiles." There are two profiles used in consumer AVCHD camcorders. The first is the "Main Profile" and this is used predominantly by Sony camcorders. The bitrate is variable up to 24 Mbps (18 for DVD -recorded media) and accommodates up to 1920 x 1080 resolutions. Some Main Profile camcorders record a 1440 x 1080 resolution image with a Pixel Aspect Ratio (PAR) of 1.333, just as HDV does. AVC is not standardized so quality and resolutions may vary.

High Profile camcorders allow for a maximum bitrate of up to 24 Mbps, and resolutions of 1920 x 1080.

Panasonic has a format known as AVC-Intra. Vegas doesn't support this codec; a converting software utility will be required just as DVCProHD requires a conversion utility such as Raylight™. For competitive reasons, Panasonic has indicated they will not license Sony Creative Software to access their proprietary codecs. Users may also encounter a codec known as AVCCAM. This is merely Panasonic re-branding standard AVCHD High Profile; it is the same video format as any High Profile camcorder, regardless of branding.

Importing Media from a DVD Drive

Camcorders that record to DVD are very common, and Vegas is capable of importing most types of DVD-based recording formats.


Any disc from a DVD camera to be imported to Vegas needs to be finalized in the camera prior to import.

Connect the Camcorder to the USB port on the computer and a file import dialog box will open. Browse to File | Import | DVD Camcorder Disc. (The disc could also be in the computer DVD drive.) Vegas will import the video and stereo or 5.1 surround information. If installed, be sure to uninstall the Sony Handycam USB driver from your Add/Remove Programs prior to attempting to import media via the Vegas import tools. The Sony Handycam driver may prevent Vegas from recognizing any brand of DVD camcorder. If the disc to be imported contains 5.1 surround audio, set up a 5.1 surround Vegas project prior to import. Vegas will then properly import the six channels of audio to corresponding surround tracks. The 5.1 audio imported to a stereo project (Vegas default) will be down-mixed to a two-channel mix.


Excerpted from Vegas Pro 11 Editing Workshop by Douglas Spotted Eagle Copyright © 2012 by Elsevier Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Focal Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Douglas Spotted Eagle is a recognized world leader in the Vegas product knowledgebase. He has authored numerous articles for Vegas and its sister applications. He also hosts two web sites for users of Vegas and related products and contributes to Videography, Studio, Parachutist, and Worship Video among other publications.

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