By Any Means Necessary – Calgary Film Race

Before I vent, here’s our video. Our team featured many-a-fan of Shane Carruth’s Primer, and we were eager to see what we could pack into our Film Racing submission (which the rules cap at 4 minutes). We’re pretty darn happy with how it turned out!

However, we were beaten in all categories by Dink Pajama Party’s “Normal”, which everyone agrees kicked much ass. (Fun fact: Parts of it were shot in Calgary’s Hackerspace.)

If you get a chance to participate in a Film Race in your city, it is a heck of a fun way to spend 24 hours… plus the nap which follows.

Now, onto the anger.

SONY Vegas isn’t the worst purchase I’ve ever made… it has served me for years, and is pretty good at importing the broad range of video formats I throw at it. It has low overhead, and (big plus) can have multiple instances run at once.

And today’s SONY Vegas, run on my quad-core machine with 7 GB of RAM and 64-bit Windows 7, may occasionally crash, but it tends to recover work nicely and can get the editing job done.

But… the one thing Vegas never perfected: Exporting projects to various rendered formats.

“Gord,” you say, “Maybe you should point this out to SONY, and not be posting it on your blog like a whiny little bitch.”

Yeah, I’ve tried that. I’ve offered to ship a frigging hard drive full of video projects to SONY so they could run unit tests against the various projects to determine why renders fail. I’ve pointed out in the forums that projects can fail to render due to nothing more than project length.

I don’t think they care.

So when the Calgary Film Racing 2010 program guide includes an ad for SONY Vegas, and Calgary Film Racing asked for video projects to be submitted in QuickTime DV format, I was wondering…

Has anyone ever tried exporting a SONY Vegas project to QuickTime DV?

I’ll tell you what happens when I do it. Year after year. On different machines, different Windows operating systems.

The progress bar moves towards 100%, but never reaches 100%. Estimated time to render keeps increasing. Forever.

When you’re trying to meet a Film Racing deadline, that will kill you. SONY Vegas, the product advertised in the Film Racing program guide, will ruin your chances of making the 24 hour deadline.

Due to a bug that’s been there… certainly for the past 3 years I’ve been using Vegas. It is still there, in version 9.0e (64-bit).

That was the deadline-critical project I didn’t quite render this week with SONY Vegas. The less important one was a 90 minute comedy feature.

The feature will not render out using the SONY Vegas MainConcept MPEG-4 variable bit rate encoder. It crashes with an “unknown error”. It can be rendered with a SONY MPEG-4 constant bit rate encoder… which is just great if optimizing for high quality isn’t your thing.

That’s two export fails. In one week. Not one-time crashes. These are consistent, repeatable failures.

Vegas has really improved since I migrated from 32-bit to 64-bit… 32-bit was unusable for long, complex projects. No out-of-memory errors. Just frequent crashes when editing. Persistent crashes when rendering. I used have to render complex projects in tiny fragments, and piece them together in another simpler Vegas project. It isn’t that bad any more.

But the saddest thing about SONY Vegas is that I have no reason to think their QuickTime DV or MainConcept MPEG-4 rendering bugs will ever be addressed. They’ve been there for years. And SONY has no means of replicating these issues, so how can they be expected to fix them?

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