Posts Tagged error

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?

, , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sony Vegas 9.0c Bug vs Hottie Hookups

Hottie Hookups is a new iPhone game by Calgary’s own Big Stack Studios. It features some pretty innovative gameplay mechanics: Swiping, shaking and tilting are all used to keep swarms of nerds from disturbing the mating rituals of Jocks and Models on a dancefloor…

…as you can see, the promotional video introduces the Hottie Hookups team using “Guy Ritchie on a budget” style title cards. In theory, a Sony Vegas workflow for such dynamic titles isn’t terribly difficult… grab a frame from video, manually trace around the Hottie Hookup developer’s image so they’re masked out. GIMP or Paint.NET can both mask and stylize, so Photoshop is not required.

A single masked out image can then have multiple effects applied, each slightly different looking effect saved as a separate file. Rapidly alternating between different versions of these masked images, at slightly different positions (be sure to use “hold” keyframes, or the images will slide instead of jump), an editor can use Sony Vegas to manually create extremely dynamic title cards.

Unfortunately, the story does not end there… at least while VEGAS PRO 9.0c 64-bit is SONY’s latest release. Because Sony Vegas 9.0c does not like my masked images.


This is an inconsistent issue, and I’m finding it does not matter what format the image is in. What does matter, is the complexity of the timeline at that instant (how many layers, how many masked images), and the pan & scan movement being applied to the video element.

While Hottie Hookups title cards features jerky motion, such an error is best illuistrated by a slow pan and zoom. When previewing the video in Vegas, I see the image flicker and disappear, instead of expanding and filling the screen. This may be some sort of caching error, since I found I needed at least 5 images in any single project before one image would flicker and disappear. Occasionally, I could return to a “trouble” spot on the timeline, only to see the video suddenly preview correctly.

This inconsistency also applies to rendering the final video. Not being able to edit the video in a WYSIWYG manner is bad, but lucking out when editing (so that the image remains visible) does not guarantee your final render will contain the image.

Fortunately, there is a work-around. Unfortunately, it is extremely tedious and makes Sony Vegas a giant time-suck for complex title sequences.

  1. Create a new (temporary) Sony Vegas project. Set project resolution either as big as your masked image, or as big as possible.
  2. Import your masked image into Sony Vegas.
  3. Export your image as a short uncompressed video clip (AVI version 2 with alpha channel enabled).
  4. Instead of using images in your “real” Sony Vegas project, use your exported short video clips.

No, seriously. It does not matter if my images are JPG, or PNG. They don’t even have to be high resolution (I see this problem with images only 1280×720). And it doesn’t take much complexity for images to start disappearing.

Those dynamic title cards you see consist of layers of static video, and not images. Because Sony Vegas could correctly render a complex timeline filled with many alpha channeled video clips, but not alpha channeled images.

I realize not everyone uses Sony Vegas for animation, but to quote Gob, “Come on!

Sony Vegas 9.0c came out in 2009-10 (October 2009). Since then, VideoLAN Media Creator has been announced.

Sony Vegas currently maintains the lead in supporting a wide variety of file formats (AVCHD is why I’m using Vegas today, and not Final Cut), but the only other significant advances I’ve seen Sony make since 6.0 are multicam editing and 64-bit support. How about basic UI issues, like freeing aspect ratio for more than one clip at a time? Or directly exporting old-school FLV?

In fact, I had a complex project on hold for 6 months until I happened to upgrade my Windows box to 64-bit, finally allowing the project to render successfully. In 32-bit land, no memory warning was given. Sony Vegas simply crashed while rendering.

So Sony Vegas 9.0c 64-bit solves one problem, while introducing another. Given VLC Media Player’s fantastic support for playback of various file formats, one has to wonder if Sony Vegas’s strongest feature, broad file format support, won’t be soon surpassed by a free and open source application.

VideoLAN Media Creator will support all 3 OSes (Linux, Mac, PC) just as VLC Media Player does. Give me stability and consistency, I’ll take that over multicam any day.

“$600?!? Come on!”

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments