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Production Assistant for Sony Vegas Pro: From a Final Cut Pro User's Perspective
Sony Creative Software introduced Production Assistant for Vegas Pro as a way to streamline post-production, and I have to say, it's a terrific plug-in, created along with VASST. As a Final Cut Pro editor, I take a different look at the software, and I also discuss Vegas Pro version 9.
Regular readers of my reviews and workflows know I'm a Mac guy who edits on Final Cut Pro (FCP). But some of you may know that I work with many editors on Sony Creative Software's Vegas Pro, so I have been known to work with that most-excellent Windows-based non-linear editor (NLE) on occasion. And out of all the Windows-based pro NLE apps out there, I like Vegas Pro the best.
For my review, I loaded up Vegas Pro 9 and the Production Assistant plug-in onto a 19-inch Toshiba Satellite laptop with plenty of speed, RAM, and hard drive space. I also used some demo footage from a friend of mine who had videotaped another friend's wedding, which I felt would be great for working with Production Assistant. I also incorporated some stills from the event as well.
Note: I've had the pleasure of working with VASST: years ago, I joined Douglas Spotted Eagle (Spot) on an HDV instructional tour around America, and I also co-wrote and contributed to their two best-selling books on HD production and equipment. I know VASST to do excellent work, and I've even had chances to try some of their Vegas Pro plug-ins, like Ultimate-S Pro.
Production Assistant was created with VASST (www.vasst.com), an excellent training and software company, as a way to streamline production and help editors speed up their workflows when doing similar (and sometimes tedious) editing. It's terrific for editors working in the field of broadcast, wedding videos, commercial and industrial videos, and more.
With Production Assistant, you can automate many things in your editing, including adding transitions between video clips, color correct for various types of lighting (like CTO/Color Temperature Orange, CTB/Color Temperature Blue, etc), quickly create great-looking video and/or photo montages, convert widescreen (16:9) footage to full screen (4:3) and vice-versa, add 21 film filters to your project, batch encode to a variety of formats, and much, much more.
From an FCP user's perspective, there are a variety of features found in Final Cut Pro that can do these things quickly, but to use other similar features to Production Assistant, I need to turn to third party plug-ins and apps. One of the biggies that I'd love to see (and maybe it's already out there, but I have yet to discover it) is a way to quickly put together photo and/or video montages.
With the wedding footage and photos I had, I quickly cut the "groom version," which is essentially a five to 10 minute photo/video montage of all the highlights. I learned about creating one of these almost a decade ago from one of the top wedding videographers in Orlando, Florida. And it took me a ridiculously short amount of time to make that video versus doing it in FCP. Like I said, if there's a third party plug-in or app that can help streamline and automate this in FCP, let me know!
I also love how I can color correct some shots quickly and pretty accurately; if I forget to white balance when I go outside, and my video is a harsh blue, Production Assistant will color correct the footage for CTB (Color Temperature Blue).
Another great feature is converting 16:9 widescreen footage to 4:3 full-screen; sometimes, clients don't want their video projects to have letterboxes, and it can sometimes be a pain in the butt to take a whole bunch of edited clips on a timeline and "zoom in" (I only recommend doing this with HD footage to avoid pixelation) to get that 4:3 look. Well, Production Assistant makes it very easy to do this.
Of course, clients may want their 4:3 full-screen footage to have that film-like widescreen look, so Production Assistant can also work with the footage. Both options look great. FCP 7 has guide markers for both HD and SD (16:9 and 4:3), but the workflow in Production Assistant makes this easier and more effective.
Thoughts on Vegas Pro 9
I thought I'd add a couple of quick thoughts on Vegas Pro 9, from an FCP editor's point-of-view. I dig the new Vegas Pro, though I'd say aside from some new features (better XDCAM integration, RED support, and more), Sony Creative Software is really strengthening the app to help deliver a more powerful and robust experience, whether you're working on a 32- or 64-bit system. For me, as an FCP user, one of my favorite features is the very powerful and thorough Blu-ray authoring and creation software (DVD Architect), that enables you to create a disc directly from the timeline. FCP 7 can do this, but you can only create Blu-ray Discs (BDs) from FCP 7's Share option or inside Compressor 3.5. Unfortunately, aside from some basic menus, you can't create as robust a BD in FCP/Compressor as you can in Vegas Pro 9/DVD Architect. And you can't even create a BD in DVD Studio Pro...
For a more in-depth review of Vegas Pro 9, check out my friend Jeffrey P. Fisher's excellent review here
Sony Vegas Pro users have it made with the great Production Assistant plug-in. As a Final Cut Pro editor, I really wish some of these features (or a Mac version of Production Assistant) were in the software to help me automate many of the regular edits I do. There are definitely ways to do it in FCP, and plenty of terrific plug-ins and third party apps, but I love the complete package that's Production Assistant. With Sony Vegas Pro 9, the company is strengthening the software, giving users a more powerful experience. To download a trial version or to find out more about Production Assistant and Vegas Pro 9 at http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/.
Sony Vegas Production Assistant
Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.
Related Keywords:Sony Production Assistant , editing workflow, RED workflow, Color Temperature Blue