Last years’ VEGAS 14 is still called Sony VEGAS by most people I talk to, in fact, search for Sony VEGAS on Google or eBay and you will find many results for VEGAS 14. So, with VEGAS 15 Pro in our hands have MAGIX finally shaken off the Sony mantle and how does this, their difficult second album shape up?
Getting VEGAS 15 right would be “make or break” in my opinion for MAGIX. They had an established product which people knew how to use, they had a large user base still using outdated software because it did what they needed it to do and they had fresher, cheaper competition gunning for a large chunk of their market so it was never going to be an easy task to make VEGAS 15 the must-have video editing software.
I have been using VEGAS 15 Suite now for several weeks and having spent the last few years using various iterations of VEGAS software I am very familiar with it so felt comfortable jumping straight in but I was also very keen to find out if the numerous requests on the forum had been addressed or if any suggestions made there had transitioned to the product.
When I first opened the software, I was presented with a new, yet familiar interface, MAGIX had to make this product their own and the interface was an obvious place to start but I was very pleased that they didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. The colour scheme is generally darker by default, something I prefer as it’s easier on the eyes and each of the colourful icons is exactly where it should be. I will come on to customisation later but you really can make VEGAS 15 YOUR editor.
For example, the trimmer is available on a tab next to the preview but it’s not a feature I use, I prefer to edit directly in the timeline, so I have my workspace set up so that my preview is displayed on a separate monitor to my right, my media and FX are on a third screen on my left which gives me a huge workspace for the timeline and this way I have a sense of the video as a whole. If this doesn’t suit you, customise your own workspace. Another example of customisation is on the video track header. It’s now much cleaner by default however, there is a drop-down that will allow you to edit the visible buttons, even the scribble strip is hidden until you click on it. This is done on a track by track basis too which means that the entire header section looks clean with only what you need visible until you decide otherwise. I really like this change.
Basic functions like importing media are identical, however, when you put a clip on the timeline you now get a heading over each one. It might not seem like an impactful difference but this one little change has made it so much easier to work with multiple files and cuts that I suspect over time, I will save hours of searching. The familiar Pan and Crop and FX icons appear as default but here too there is also and a little drop-down menu that contains access to and options to display Generated media, Active take information, Playback Rate, Freeze Frame at Cursor and Selectively Paste event attributes. If you use these functions regularly, having the ability to edit the visible button set so they are visible at the top of a clip is a clever idea and will be a great time saver.
Overall, I really like the new default darker interface but if you don’t, you can choose from four background colour options: Dark, Medium, Light and White and again it shows the thought that MAGIX has put into the software. I think MAGIX have done a great job of making VEGAS 15 their own without messing things up and I think one of the main consensuses on the forum was that people didn’t want the GUI they had been used to for nearly 15 years being tampered with to the extent that they needed to learn how to use their software all over again. There is a feeling of modernisation and streamlining but everything is exactly how we left it. MAGIX has freshened things up without changing too much of what was here already and it’s clear a great deal of time has been taken over getting this right.
Working with clips in VEGAS 14 and previewing your changes was a little sluggish at times, I remember comparing scrubbing in VEGAS 13 to Adobe premiere and thinking I should just get used to Premiere! Once again though I am pleased to say that VEGAS 15 feels as slick as it looks. Every action I took felt faster, smoother and more concise. I added a transition between two clips and was surprised that the preview showed me the transition immediately. I have not seen this in Vegas before. There are certainly a lot more optimisations that have taken place because everything feels faster. This is an important step if VEGAS is to remain relevant as higher and higher video resolutions become more readily available. Smartphones can record in 4K UHD, 8k and 16K resolutions are on the horizon and the VEGAS video engine needed this overhaul to stay current. The hard work shows and you will notice it in everything you do in VEGAS 15.
To highlight the improvements my last YouTube video was shot using a resolution of 2560×1440 or 2K as some people like to call it. I rendered out the footage in a surprisingly fast time considering I had used VEGAS 15 to upscale my footage to 4K UHD using Smart Scale and the results were nothing short of miraculous. I had the option to use Smart Zoom or Smart Adaptive Deinterlacing, however, for my footage, this would not have yielded the results needed but it is incredible to be able to do this from within VEGAS with such incredible results.
Previewing footage is greatly improved too. Using a full screen to preview videos it’s nice that I can use Best Full playback and get over 30FPS when previewing my footage. It means I can edit more effectively and make changes to the positional text that would otherwise be far harder to do owing to the lower resolutions. I even managed to record some 4K footage from my phone and even with this, I achieved 25FPS with the same settings. I could not have attempted this with VEGAS 14,
When I was looking through the render options I noticed that there was support for HEVC and H.265 video, however, I have not had great results using either as I think for gameplay the compression may be a little too high so I didn’t have footage to test these. It’s nice to see the inclusion though as well as not needing to have QuickTime installed as there is also support for ProRes 422.
Depending on your system specs you may see slightly different results but a top tip is that you can always set the option to automatically create proxies for your Ultra HD media. It will take you longer when you start the project but will give you smooth playback when you use Draft or Preview quality, then, when you want to get up close and need to see what’s going on you can switch to Good or Best quality and Vegas will automatically use the Ultra HD media, equally your render will use the Ultra HD footage meaning you get the best of both worlds.
Rendering options are infinitely customisable and there is support for modern graphics cards and Intel QSV (Quick Sync Video) Technology which again means for a zippier interface and faster render times for major video formats but it goes deeper than this and means more than just the speed added to usual tasks. VEGAS 15 has PiP and Crop OFX plugins which, because of this new-found speed, allow for real-time controls right in the preview window. You can make changes on the fly in real time!
It means the BorisFX, HifFilm and NewBlueFX plugins can be used to greater effect to repair video or generate incredible effects. You can make the most incredible video titles using the NewBlueFX video titler plugin, something that this same system struggled with using VEGAS Pro 14.
To sum up:
I was watching Top Gear a few years ago. In the episode, Clarkson was driving an E-Type Jag. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful cars ever produced but it was built in a different time, with different criteria and boundaries. Then a company called Eagle got hold of it, they gave it a deeper aluminium body, they made the windscreen lower and more steeply raked, they gave it new wheels, new tires, new brakes and interior. It retained its beauty but became a modern version of itself, elegant, rapid, beautiful. This is what MAGIX have done with VEGAS 15. It is the old familiar friend, the design is still VEGAS, however, it’s also MAGIX, it is faster, slicker, looks better, is more suited to modern workloads but retains its brilliance.
VEGAS Pro 15 is, without doubt, the best video editing software I have ever used. It is a brilliant professional editing suite that has been given a loving and thoughtful restoration and now sits at the pinnacle of its field ready for the modern challenges ahead. The upgraded interface is modern, clean and logical but retains its usability with all of the tools I need exactly where they should be. I love the fact I can customise what I see and where I see it and the new track headers will save hours of time. Upgrading from VEGAS 13 to VEGAS 14 was not something I would have said you needed to do, sure, VEGAS 14 was better than VEGAS 13 but you could have continued to use VEGAS 13 and wouldn’t have missed much. This year, VEGAS 15 is so far ahead of the game that you only have two options, buy it or upgrade.