Posts Tagged SONY VEGAS
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.
- Create a new (temporary) Sony Vegas project. Set project resolution either as big as your masked image, or as big as possible.
- Import your masked image into Sony Vegas.
- Export your image as a short uncompressed video clip (AVI version 2 with alpha channel enabled).
- 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.
Sometimes video quality is simply not one’s highest priority. But quick and dirty video capture may come back to haunt you if the recorded video clips can not be used in your video editor. And SONY VEGAS is quite fickle about footage from Aiptek cameras.
The first catch is that Aiptek 720p cameras .MOV video files can not be directly imported into SONY VEGAS without losing all audio. While VEGAS will still pause to build peak waveform files (.sfk), those waveforms are flat-lined.
The simplest solution to this problem, is to rename your Aiptek .MOV files so that their extensions are changed from .MOV to .MP4 (which causes VEGAS to use a different MPEG decoder).
In my experience, this is effective for files smaller than 2 GB. To use 2 GB+ Aiptek video clips in SONY VEGAS (as of SONY VEGAS 8.0c) you will be forced to transcode the video file.
SONY VEGAS treats 2 GB+ Aiptek video files as if they do not have any video data. Given the fact that SONY VEGAS flat-lines audio from an Aiptek .MOV file unless it has been renamed, this makes the experience of a new Aiptek owner extremely unpleasant. One might see nothing but a flat-lined audio sample!
Experts are divided as to the proper terminology for this phenomena. Some call it “Aiptek Rage“, while others refer to it as “Death by SONY VEGAS“. I personally prefer to affix blame on whoever charges more for their product, in this case SONY. No, I can’t expect SONY to anticipate every wonky video device which will be manufactured in China. But the fact is Apple QuickTime plays those MOV files. If QuickTime can play Aiptek MOVs, then somehow it must be possible for SONY VEGAS to import them.
The disappointment with this limitation, is that Aiptek cameras can run off battery power for almost 2 hours, or run off AC power for 8 hours. An Aiptek camera populated with an 8 GB SDHC card, powered by AC is an 8 hour non-stop video capturing machine! Aipteks are perfectly sized to be clamped onto a wall or a desk, and left running for the full duration of an event.
Successful multi-cam coverage still requires some non-Aiptek cameras:
- Aiptek 720p audio is atrocious (but still adequate to synchronize waveforms).
- Slow grinding auto-focus forces the used to stay zoomed out at all times. Likely you won’t be capturing any closeups with an Aiptek.
But if you’re looking to focus all your attention on your “good” HDV camera, and simply want to set-up-and-forget some cameras to collect extra angles, Aiptek cameras can fit that bill. Except that, if you are editing with SONY VEGAS, you must cycle all your Aipteks every hour to avoid creating any files bigger than 2 GB.
Another use I’ve found for Aiptek cameras is placing them randomly on guest’s tables at weddings, so the guests can record their own messages to the newlyweds. They’re simple to use, can survive being dropped by kids, and cheap enough that you ultimately won’t care whatever happens to them. Someone might manage to destroy the camera, but they’ll have to run it over with a car to crack the SDHC card hidden safely inside.
Transcoding Aiptek Video to MPEG-2
If none of this matters because you’ve already recorded an Aiptek video clip longer than 2 GB and still need to edit with it in SONY VEGAS, the tool I use to transcode is called “SUPER”.
SUPER is a free Windows app written by eRightSoft. eRightSoft’s web page is rather confusing, filled with ads for commercial applications. Keep following the links to “Start Downloading SUPER” and “Download SUPER Setup File”, and eventually you’ll find the SUPER download. (No, I can’t link directly to the download.)
If you decide to mimic these settings when transcoding Aiptek footage, keep in mind that the resulting MPEG-2 file will be 20% bigger than the original, there will still be some quality loss, and that transcoding a single 3 GB clip can take half a day.
Sample Use of Multiple Aiptek 720p Video Cameras
One good use of Aiptek cameras is mounting them on the outside of cars. For the R4NT review of Watchmen, we used clamp-mounts to attach Aipteks to windshield wipers. It is not just a matter of the Aipteks being cheap enough to be disposable… their tiny mass let us use plastic clamps, and their small size kept them from catching too much wind.
I’ll be looking forward to future cameras from Aiptek, but will be paying as much attention to the ability of their data files to be easily imported into video editing applications as their resolution and frame rate. I’d like to assume that by 2009 both the creators of video editing applications, and manufacturers of cameras would be bending over backwards to ensure their products have no compatibility issues. I would assume SONY has the ability to pass the buck to Apple, and force SONY VEGAS to use QuickTime to decode troublesome MOV files. Even if there was a terrible performance hit, it would still be nice to have that as a SONY VEGAS option.
Anyone wondering “Why don’t you just go Mac and use Final Cut Studio?” I’ve got a Mac and I’ve tried Final Cut Studio 2.0 – I don’t want to start whining about that now since version 3.0 has been announced. Evaluating and whining about Final Cut Studio 3.0 is on my to-do list.
SONY HDR-SR1 records AVCHD video onto its hard drive as .MTS files. Because the video camera’s 30 GB hard drive is using a FAT32 filesystem, if HDV video is recorded in chunks longer than 20 minutes, the size of that shot’s data will surpass 2 GB. Since FAT32 does not support this, the SONY HDR-SR1 automatically increments the filename and starts recording data to a new file.
This results in a series of filenames on the camera such as:
00000.MTS (2 GB)
00001.MTS (2 GB)
00002.MTS (last in series will be less than 2 GB)
When connecting the HDR-SR1 to your PC, you may be tempted (as I was) to navigate directly into the camera’s video storage folder…
…and simply copy those files onto your PC’s hard drive. Vegas recognizes the .MTS files and will import them without complaining. Many video playback apps (such as VLC) understand that the MTS extension means video. Heck, what could be simpler than copy/pasting those AVCHD video clips right on into your computer… exactly where you want them?
Let me respond to that rhetorical question I’m pretending you asked with my own? How would you like a nice warm glass of FAIL?
My experience is that those .MTS files 2 GB in size are NOT always recognized by SONY VEGAS (including SONY VEGAS 8.0 including release 8.0c). The camera does not properly end the AVCHD data, and while the files may usually import into Vegas, such an approach will occasionally lead to…
- Gimped frames at the end of your 2 GB video clip.
- Vegas unable to import the 2 GB video segment at all (“unrecognized file format”).
- Vegas crashing when the file is imported (Vegas 7 does this, I have not seen it with Vegas 8).
Instead, be sure SONY PICTURE UTILITY is installed on your PC. It was included with your SONY HDR-SR1 camera, and once installed will automatically launch the “HDD Handycam Utility” when your SONY HDR-SR1 is connected to your PC.
This utility joins any multiple .MTS files which correspond to a single continuous shot into a single .m2ts file on your PC’s hard drive.
Since the MTS files usually worked, it took me quite a while (and a few support tickets to SONY) to figure this out. Hopefully this post will accelerate that understanding for someone else.