FCP X Color Board Presets

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Apple’s Final Cut Pro X includes a deceptively simply – often confusing – yet extremely powerful color correction tool, commonly known as the Color Board. Custom grading “looks” are all the rage and FCP X includes a number of ways to stylize an image, including a selection of presets that can be applied in the Color Board. df_fcpxcb_2_smIn addition, users can create and store their own presets, simply by saving a correction that they particularly like or want to re-use on other shots.

df_fcpxcb_3_smWhen you save a preset, that creates a .cboard file, which is saved into the Color Presets folder located in the User / Movies / Final Cut Events folder. These files can be copied and pasted to other systems at that same location and thus become available for use within Final Cut Pro X on another machine.

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UPDATE: If you have upgraded to FCP X 10.1, this location has changed to the user Library, which by default is hidden. Hold down the Option key while selecting the Finder Go menu. This will expose the user Library. Now create or navigate to the Color Presets folder. User Library / Application Support / ProApps / Color Presets. So far in my limited testing, previously-created color board presets (.cboard) are compatible with 10.1.

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UPDATE for 10.4:  Custom Color Effects presets are now located in the Effects Presets folder within the user Library of your Mac and not the Color Presets folder. Existing custom Color Board presets located in the Color Presets folder are supposed to be “promoted” to Effects Presets when you upgrade Final Cut Pro X to version 10.4. However, I have found that it worked correctly under macOS 10.12.x (Sierra), but not 10.13.x (High Sierra).

If you have previously downloaded and installed my Color Board presets and these did not get promoted to Effects Presets – or you have installed Final Cut Pro X 10.4 for the first time – simply copy the 40 OP presets from enclosed folder into your Effects Presets folder. You can access this folder by holding the Option key and then clicking on Go on your macOS top menu. This makes the user Library visible in the Go pulldown menu. The Effects Presets folder path is user Library/Application Support/ProApps/Effects Presets.

Once correctly installed or promoted, these presets will appear in the FCPX interface’s Effects Browser in the Color Presets section. This will enable you to skim over the thumbnails to preview the look as it would appear when applied to your footage. These presets apply Color Board settings and can easily be adjusted through the Color Board controls, once you’ve applied them to a clip.

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I’ve created a set of simple, primary-grade presets that you can download and use if you like. df_fcpxcb_5_smThese are based on the sample image of a woman that I have used in other posts. All you have to do to use these is download and install them and they will show up in the Color Board presets menu of your system. As with any software, proceed at your own risk, as I haven’t done any extensive testing. Once you install the presets and launch FCP X, the app may require a restart in order to update the Event.

These presets are primary grades that were built upon the look of the sample image as a starting point. It’s fairly neutral, so if the tonal range of your clip differs widely, you’ll obviously have to tweak the sliders to get the look that’s appropriate to your footage. One suggestion is to apply the correction in stages.

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In this example, I have taken a log profile image from a Blackmagic Cinema Camera and applied three color correction settings (click the image to see an expanded view). The first is to correct for the log profile and get the image into a contrast and saturation range that is similar to my sample. On the next correction, I have applied one of my custom grades as a full screen secondary correction. Since none of these presets include shapes or color isolation, there is a third layer with a shape mask. I have used this to darken the exposure outside of the mask, thus creating a vignette effect.

Click here to download a .zip archive file containing these presets.

Click here to download a .zip archive file for Final Cut Pro X 10.4 or later.

Click on any of these images for a slide show of the various presets.

©2013 Oliver Peters

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Noise Industries FxFactory 4

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Noise Industries was one of the first plug-in developers to leverage the power of the GPU by tapping into the core image component of Mac OS X. This approach took off when Apple added the FxPlug architecture to Final Cut Pro. From this start, Noise Industries has been able to develop its FxFactory product into both a powerful filter package and a platform to add filters from other partner companies. FxFactory 4.0.2 now supports Final Cut Pro 7 and X, Motion 4 and 5, After Effects and Premiere Pro (CS6). Although After Effects has been supported for a few versions, the upgrade to 4.0 extended support to Premiere Pro CS6. (FxFactory Pro 4.0.2 is a free upgrade for owners of FxFactory Pro 3.x versions.)

df_fxf4_7_smWhen editors install the free FxFactory application, it functions as a central control point to purchase, install, license and manage all of the filters. Most of the plug-in installers are included with the package and are available as trial versions, plus there are links to tutorials for each effect. FxFactory enables users to activate or deactivate products based on preference.

df_fxf4_5_smIf you purchase Noise Industries’ FxFactory Pro filter set, then this adds 176 filters, generators and transitions for Final Cut Pro 7, Motion, Premiere Pro and After Effects, and 160 effects for Final Cut Pro X. If you only purchased FxFactory Pro, you would have a well-rounded set of filters to tackle many creative challenges; however, the beauty of the FxFactory platform is in its extension through partner companies, whose plug-ins tie into this application.

Current partners include Yanobox, Ripple Training, Stupid Raisins, Squid FX, Tokyo Productions, Luca Visual FX, idustrial revolution, Nattress, Boinx Software, SUGARfx, PHYX, Cineflare, Dashwood, Sheffield Softworks, DV Shade, Crumplepop, Futurismo, Aquafades and nVeil. df_fxf4_4_smDepending on the company, some or all of their products are available though FxFactory and supported hosts vary with each product. Some of the newest additions that are built as Motion templates are only available within Final Cut Pro X. Purchasing FxFactory Pro and augmenting it with a number of these add-ins gives you a very powerful set of filters. On the other hand, if you only wanted to use Ripple Tools, Yanobox Moods or Luca VFX Lo-Fi Look, then simply purchase the individual filters you need and run them under the free version of FxFactory. This way you can grow your inventory of effects as budgets permit.

df_fxf4_2_smFxFactory developers have been rapidly adding to the options, due in part to the ability to create FCP X effects as Motion templates, along with an increased user demand for Premiere Pro plug-ins. Noise Industries has brought on board some of the popular plug-ins from the old FxScript days of Final Cut. These include Nattress and Sheffield with updated versions of their looks and grading tools. New developers, not previously known as plug-in creators, have joined the fold to offer FCP X-specific effects. These include Ripple, Tokyo, Squid FX, Stupid Raisins and others. Some of the long-time FxFactory partner developers, like Luca, Yanobox and idustrial revolution are bringing out new products, as well.

df_fxf4_3_smAs a whole, this group represents one of the most eclectic set of filters and transitions available anywhere. Because these products are not developed by a single team of programmers, you get different styles that don’t all look like they came from one company. It would be very difficult, within a reasonable amount of time, for a talented editor to re-create from scratch the sort of transitions you get from packages like XEffects, Slide Pop, FxTiles or Punchline –  even using a powerful NLE like Smoke or a compositor like After Effects.

df_fxf4_6_smAs a working editor who uses these products, I appreciate that Noise Industries spends a lot of time making sure their tools work with the changes Apple brings about. They are fast with fixes and I’ve found that their filters tend to be more stable than some other packages as NLE or OS updates come down the line. This is especially true with Final Cut Pro X, which is still a moving target, as Apple tweaks AV Foundations with each update. FxFactory Pro and partner filters run well within the application and provide reasonable real-time performance when left unrendered. If you are running variations of Final Cut, Motion, Premiere Pro and After Effects, then one price covers the plug-in installation for all of these hosts.

Originally written for Digital Video magazine.

©2013 Oliver Peters

Final Cut Pro X versus Premiere Pro CS6

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The struggle within most shops that invested in Apple’s Final Cut Pro is whether to stay put a while longer, adopt Final Cut Pro X or cut the cord and move on. For many this means shifting to the Adobe Production Premium bundle – part of Creative Suite. Most of the editors and facilities in my sphere are doing just that. I’m one of only two local editors that I know of, who is actually using FCP X professionally. The rest are in the process of shifting to Premiere Pro, while maintaining some continued use of FCP “legacy”. This post is not intended as a “shoot out” or to say one is better than the other. Both are good tools and much of the choice gets down to personal preference. Instead, my goal is to lay out some random considerations in making the move.

Cross-platform / performance

Premiere Pro runs on Mac OS X and Windows workstations and laptops, while Final Cut Pro X is a Mac-only product. The biggest consideration is that by having the tool available to Windows, you open your access to the fastest machines and GPU cards. Premiere on a PC can tap into the faster NVIDIA CUDA-enabled cards, which is not an option for either Premiere or FCP X on the Mac. Although Premiere runs with both CUDA and non-CUDA cards on Macs, the selection is limited.

Adobe’s standalone software must be purchased with either a Mac or Windows license and switching platforms requires cross-grading the license. Unlike Avid, you cannot simply go from a PC workstation at a facility to a MacBook Pro at home with a simple de-activation/re-activation process. The exception is the Creative Cloud subscription, with permits access to both Mac and Windows licenses on up to two machines, as long as they aren’t used at the same time.

Naturally, if you opt for Final Cut Pro X, you have software that has been tweaked for the most current Apple hardware. We can argue the merits of CUDA, OpenGL and OpenCL acceleration, but it’s pretty clear that FCP X running on a decked-out iMac outperforms the application on a Mac Pro tower.

Suite versus “suite

Premiere Pro is generally purchased as part of the Production Premium or Master Collection software bundles – or as part of a Creative Cloud subscription. Final Cut Pro X is only available as standalone software through the Mac App Store. The beauty of the Adobe software is its integration, with direct links between Premiere Pro and After Effects, Prelude, Audition or SpeedGrade. These aren’t all fully developed yet, but it’s a key reason some editors prefer Premiere Pro.

On the other hand, there’s a large ecosystem growing up around Final Cut Pro X that constitutes much of the same. It’s not an official “suite” of software and interoperability is limited to translations of FCPXML. For similar dollars, you get similar capabilities – only with the added ability to pick and choose what’s right for your workflow.

Plug-ins

The plug-in architecture for Premiere Pro has historically been weak. Many of the third-party After Effects plug-ins show up and work within Premiere Pro, but some don’t. If you edit in Premiere, you are best off doing your effects in After Effects. Lately, developers have been tweaking their filters to make them work – or work better – inside Premiere.

To compare, Final Cut has no plug-in architecture. Instead third-party plug-ins use FxPlug through Motion and then show up inside FCP X as a Motion template, rather than a traditional plug-in. This allows developers to not only create updated plug-ins for Motion and FCP X, but also add new and unique effects and transitions built strictly as Motion projects. These in turn are published to FCP X as effects. Since this latter approach requires less programming skill, the market for low-cost (and even free) FCP X plug-ins has exploded. Not to mention, there are effects and transitions for FCP X that simply don’t exist – or can’t easily be re-created – for any other NLE.

Organizational tools

All NLEs are giant databases tracking information. Final Cut Pro X takes this to a new level and uses ratings, keywords and smart collections as a means for fast and automatic organization of your media. Plus a considerable amount of camera and textual metadata is tracked in the background. This doesn’t mean that Premiere Pro doesn’t track a lot of data, as well. Open the metadata display window and you find plenty of fields that are assignable to each clip. Bins can be filtered by a search field, which will reduce the amount of clips displayed according to the search criteria being typed in.

User interface configurations

Final Cut Pro X’s interface design is based on panels and windows that can be opened and closed as needed. It is arranged well for single and dual-screen layouts, though you have very few options to move any of these windows around and create custom screen layouts. Premiere Pro uses a system of dockable tabs common across several of Adobe’s applications, including After Effects and Photoshop. Re-arrange these as you see fit and save custom workspace layouts.

Tracks versus trackless

Premiere Pro uses the “traditional” track-based timeline structure, where audio and video is separated into tracks and clips are positioned on the timeline based on a reference to absolute time. Final Cut Pro X’s timeline does not use tracks, but instead lays out clips according to storylines and connected clips. These are linked to each other in a parent-child relationship. This allows groups of clips to be moved, by simply moving the clip on the storyline to which the others are attached. There is no vertical hierarchy to audio and video content as tracks. Although video is displayed to the viewer from the top down, audio and video connected clips can be linked above or below the central primary storyline.

Project and clip management

Premiere Pro creates a single, self-contained data file for every edit project. This file contains the links to all media on your hard drives and the edited sequences created from these. Final Cut Pro X divides its structure into Events (source media) and Projects (edited sequences). These correspond to separate folders on your hard drive as well as divisions within the FCP X interface. Event folders can contain either actual source media content – or alias files pointing to other locations on your hard drives for that source media.

Media management

At the end of a production, many editors like to organize the final edited sequence and the clips used within it into a single “consolidated” project. This means the source clips have been trimmed to only the portions used, plus a few seconds of “handles” on the ends of the trimmed clips. Premiere Pro allows you to do this via its Project Manager tool. FCP X currently does not allow any clip trimming. You can copy a Project (edited sequence) with its used clips to a new Event, but then it requires a second step to organize the media. That step copies the media itself for all used clips into the new Event that was created.

Multiple editor interaction

Right now, neither tool is very good for collaborative editing. Final Cut Pro X works best to have all Event and Project folders at the root level of drives and only one editor can access those at a time. There is an “add SAN location” feature for shared storage environments, but it doesn’t appear to work with all SANs. The best method is to have media on a SAN, but keep the Event and Project files local to each system, with the media linked to these. If one or more editors is working on the same production, then each can have local, “mirrored” versions of the Event folders. To exchange edited sequences, simply copy and transfer the Project files that you’d like to share.

In the case of Premiere Pro, the current workflow is similar to that of FCP 7. It will likely change after NAB, where Adobe is expected to show Adobe Anywhere as a real product and its entry into collaborative editing. Currently, if multiple editors work on the same Premiere-based production, media can be on a SAN, but the project files should be on local drives. Unfortunately, you cannot open multiple project files at once. When you import another editor’s sequence into your project, it annoyingly imports all the associated master clips, even through they may already exist within your project. These cannot be removed, otherwise clips in your imported sequence will go offline.

[EDIT – My Premiere Pro import issues were challenged by a reader, so I went back and did some testing. It appears that if two editors create two unique projects, but using the same media (like in a shared storage facility), then duplicate master clips are created upon import. However, if the second project is created using a “save as” command, then sequences imported from it back into the original project do not create duplicate master clips.]

List interchange

Final Cut Pro X only interchanges data with external applications using the FCPXML data format. This is different than other versions of XML, which means you have to use translation to get from FCP X to FCP 7, for example. Premiere Pro supports XML, EDL, OMF and AAF (limited).

Tape handling (or not)

Neither application is great for videotape-based workflows. Premiere Pro has capture-from-tape and output modules, but it’s not as solid as FCP 7 and definitely not as good as Avid Media Composer. On the other hand, FCP X’s is non-existent. There is limited support for Firewire-enabled videotape decks, like HDV, but you really end up using the capture/output utilities of the third-party hardware cards (AJA, Blackmagic Design, Matrox, MOTU).

The Cold Mountain moment

Feature film editors’ use of specific NLEs does not amount to a large market segment for either of these manufacturers (nor Avid, for that matter, either). But the association with a Hollywood blockbuster fuels aspirational marketing in other sectors. It wasn’t until Walter Murch cut Cold Mountain – along with the Coen Brothers’ use of FCP – that Final Cut started to get noticed by a large portion of the professional editing community as a viable tool. Neither Apple nor Adobe have had that yet with Premiere Pro or FCP X. There has not been a major feature film cut with either.

Adobe is a bit closer in that many films have touched on Premiere Pro as a conduit to get into After Effects or handling some conforming tasks. Naturally, Adobe is more than happy to let the lines be blurred through omission between these roles and doing an actual creative edit of a film. That is likely to change this year. This is purely a guess, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a studio film being cut on FCP X or Premiere Pro at some point during 2013.

Pricing and openness

For now, when you compare cost, FCP X is the better deal. Even when you add more applications and utilities to fill in the gaps, the cost is lower than Premiere Pro. Add to that the fact that Mac App Store purchases can run on multiple machines under a single Apple ID, thus bringing the cost per machine even lower. Adobe is in the process of changing its sales and licensing structure through the Creative Cloud mechanism, but the limit is typically two machines. The beauty here is that you have access to the whole host of Adobe creative applications for video, photography, web and design as part of a monthly subscription model.

Over the course of the first year on one machine, cost is probably going to be similar for most users. If you use multiple machines, own the software for several years or use more than the average number of applications, then the scale will tip in favor of one company or the other. Both the Mac App Store and Creative Cloud models allow for more rapid updating of software than in previous years.

Openness and company response may also be a factor in your purchasing decisions. Apple is secretive about new product development. They do listen to customer feedback, but they don’t show it publicly. Adobe has tried to be very proactive in their outreach to the professional creative community. In the end, the net result may be the same in how it translates into new features that you can use.

Interesting tools

Both NLEs offer tools beyond just media organization and editing. For instance, both include stabilization, but Premiere Pro includes extra touches to fix rolling shutter artifacts. FCP X includes optical flow processing for high-quality variable speed effects. Final Cut features a number of non-destructive “automatics” for image and sound analysis on ingest and shape/shot recognition. Premiere Pro offers speech-to-text analysis. A lot of these tools fall into the “nice to have, but I never use it” category for me. Still, if these are worthwhile for you, then take a closer look.

Batch exports

Neither tool offers good batch export tools like I’m used to with FCP 7, however, each offers queued exporting functions of edited sequences. In Premiere Pro, if I want to export multiple sequences, or the same sequence as multiple deliverables, then all I need to do is set up a queue in Adobe Media Encoder. With Final Cut Pro X, I can use the Share menu to export straight from the timeline or send Projects to Compressor. Unfortunately neither one lets me export a QuickTime reference file that can be used in other encoders. You first have to export a self-contained master file if you intend to use it with other software.

Responsiveness

This is a big one for me and a good place to end this list. In its current form, FCP X feels a tad buggy to me. Response is generally better on an iMac. I’m mainly on Mac Pros, so playback often just doesn’t look smooth. It’s definitely not dropping frames, but looks like the graphics card (usually an ATI 5870) simply isn’t refreshing as well as it should. The interface also tends to feel “sticky” as I’m going between windows. It “forgets” where it is during skimming when switching between a clip in the Event browser and the timeline. Then it takes a bit of clicking around in the interface to get it to “wake up”.

There seems to be some type of RAM leak issue,too. The longer I work on it in a day with large Events (bins), the more sluggish it becomes. This requires me to close and relaunch the application to get peppier performance.

I don’t see any of this with Premiere Pro. I do miss the skimming features of FCP X (no, hover scrub is NOT the same), but otherwise, the Premiere Pro user interface interaction seems to be better for now. I’d say for me, this is an annoyance and not a deal-breaker, but it definitely needs to be addressed by Apple.

©2013 Oliver Peters

Organizational Tips for FCP X

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The beauty of Apple Final Cut Pro X is in its power to organize media. When editors take advantage of these tools, FCP X can prove to be a very fast way to cut. I’ve covered some of these concepts in previous posts on “Rethinking NLE Design”. Here are some tips that will help you get more out of FCP X. Click on the thumbnails to see an enlarged image for an expanded view of each of these tips.

df_fcpxorg_1_smProjects and Events. FCP X organizes media and sequences into Events (source media) and Projects (edited sequences). These divisions correspond with matching data files and folders at the Finder level. Unfortunately a colossal oversight was the lack of any way to organize these within the application. All active Events and Projects are open and accessible when you launch FCP X. The solution is Event Manager X from Intelligent Assistance – an essential tool for working with FCP X. This handy utility controls the location (and visibility) of Events and Projects by automatically moving unneeded files between the active and “hidden” folders.

df_fcpxorg_2_smFinder organization. Many editors like to “pre-organize” media files on their hard drives at the Finder level. FCP X lets you use that structure when importing files. Enable this preference on import and hard drive folders will be used for Keyword Collections. The latter function is the equivalent of creating bins with subclips in other NLEs. If you organized camera media by day and camera on the hard drive, the same breakdown will be automatically created in FCP X as part of the import.

df_fcpxorg_4_smEntering multiple user data fields. Custom user data, like reel names, scenes, takes, camera angles, etc. can be entered in the Event column or in the Inspector pane. When multiple clips are highlighted, the editor can use the Inspector to enter common values for all of these clips with a single entry.

df_fcpxorg_5_smKeywords and folders. Events are the location to store master clips (sources) within the FCP X interface. The corresponding Event folder on the hard drive can contain links/aliases to external media or actual media, depending on your import preference settings. Media within an Event can be organized by assigning keywords, which places the equivalent of a full-length subclip into a corresponding Keyword Collection. Multiple keywords can be assigned. The example image is from a series of grocery store commercials. On-camera employee clips can be placed into different sets of Keyword Collections that are organized by day/camera, department/category and person’s name. Keyword Collections can be placed into folders for a further level of organization. This enables the editor to locate clips using any of these subdivisions.

df_fcpxorg_7_smExpand or collapse Event Library. The Event Library pane shows all hard drives and Events visible to FCP X, as well as the Keyword and Smart Collections created by the editor. The leftmost panel can be expanded or collapsed to show/hide the drives, events, folders and collections. When the view is collapsed, only the clips within the highlighted event or collection are displayed.

df_fcpxorg_8_smEvent grouping. The Event Library can be displayed as an open list or can be grouped by various criteria. For example, if you need to quickly identify the most recent media imported, then group clips by date imported and the list becomes divided and sorted accordingly.

df_fcpxorg_6_smLists and filmstrips. When the Event Library is set to a list view, the selected clip is displayed as a filmstrip at the top of the window. This strip includes an audio waveform, which makes it easy to identify audio spikes, such as the start of each take in a series of takes within a longer clip. It shows markers added by the editor and highlighted regions for in-out ranges and Favorites (saved subclip ranges).

df_fcpxorg_3_smProject Library. Projects are edited sequences and shouldn’t be confused with a “project” file in the same sense as in FCP 7 or Premiere Pro. These sequences are typically saved within the Final Cut Projects folder, which is a separate folder from the Final Cut Events folder. Sequences can be previewed and/or skimmed from the Project Library pane. The more visible Projects you have, however, the longer this pane will take to display when opened. To organize a lot of Projects, place them into folders, which can be left closed until you need to access the files within. This lets you place older versions of a cut out of the way, but still accessible if needed.

df_fcpxorg_9_smEdits saved in the Event. The Project Library is the place to save edited sequences, however, edits can also be saved in an Event. Edited sequences or sections of sequences can be saved as Compound Clips. These go into an Event. By opening the Compound Clip in a timeline, you can continue to edit within that Compound. Depending on your strategy, Compound Clips can be organized into Keyword or Smart Collections for quick retrieval.

df_fcpxorg_10_smAudio expansion. By virtue of using a trackless design, FCP X combines the audio and video channels for each source into a single clip on the timeline. All channels for multi-channel audio sources are represented by a single waveform. To access individual channels, the timeline clips can be expanded to expose the audio “tracks”. Audio components can be further expanded in the Inspector or timeline to display individual audio channels for that source. The audio configuration (such as dual mono versus stereo) can be changed and/or channels muted or enabled. It is also necessary to expand audio in order to enable split-audio trimming (L-cuts and J-cuts).

df_fcpxorg_11_smControlling clips on the timeline. The Clip Appearance menu lets you adjust clip height and how clips are displayed. For maximum real estate, use the smallest “chicklet” view. To access audio and expand clips, use one of the views with a visible waveform. The Timeline Index is another way to focus in on elements of the timeline. Roles can be enabled or disabled, which effectively solos certain timeline clip categories.

Click here for another blogger’s article on this subject (Part 1). (Part 2). (Part 3).

©2013 Oliver Peters

Boris Continuum Complete 8 for Final Cut Pro X

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Boris Continuum Complete 8 from Boris FX has finally made it to Apple Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5. Customers purchasing BCC 8 will receive installers for both new and old versions of Final Cut and Motion. FCP X users will install the new 64-bit version designed for the updated FxPlug architecture – bringing to FCP X one of the most comprehensive plug-in sets available.

Third-party filters, transitions, titles and generators for Final Cut Pro X are built as Motion templates. This has made it a particular challenge to create an FCP X version of BCC 8 with the same controls, plus look and feel of the Continuum set. Yet changes are inevitable. According to Boris FX founder Boris Yamnitsky, “Since FCP X is a new platform unrelated to FCP 7, there is no need to maintain compatibility with BCC 7. This frees our hand to remove older filters, re-work some of the existing filters and make new filters best suited for the FCP X host. It is a very exciting project. We plan to release more templates as we get more feedback from our early adopters. We will be posting them for free as we go. For example, we are working on Materials and Transitions now.”

df_bcc8fcpx_3_smAround 200 filters install into Motion 5, but of these, a smaller subset of 94 effects filters and 11 transitions (in the current build) show up inside of Final Cut Pro X. Last year, I highlighted the new BCC 8 package for After Effects, which introduced new effects, like film glow and particles, as well as general improvements across the board. The same is true of this newest member of the BCC 8 product line. The Continuum filters are all high quality effects, but with modifications to make them work within FCP X. Some filters don’t show up in Final Cut, such as 3D lens flares, the 3-way grade filter and artist’s posterization, but you still have a variety of flare and art effects, including water color. All are there in Motion. Some of those in Motion have been modified to fit within the parameters of the Motion user interface. For instance, the 3-way grade filter uses color wheels in After Effects, but sliders and a floating “heads up display” panel in Motion.

df_bcc8fcpx_4_smThe over 100 effects and transitions inside Final Cut Pro X work in a familiar fashion to other versions of Boris Continuum Complete. There’s a wealth of slider controls on all of the filters to fine tune each effect. Many include built-in masking (the Boris Pixel Chooser), motion tracking (a first for FCP X filters) and/or beat reactor. The latter will pulse or vary an effect based on the amplitude of a linked audio track. Certain Boris FX hallmarks, like high-quality extruded, shaded 3D text, are also part of this package.

df_bcc8fcpx_5_smAll complex effects installed in the Final Cut Pro X host are somewhat slow to react as you adjust them. They do not play smoothly without dropping frames, until they are rendered. This is true for BCC 8, but also true for packages from Magic Bullet, Digital Film Tools, Tiffen and GenArts. If I compare similar Boris FX filters within different hosts, but applied to the same footage and using the same workstation, then BCC 8 in Premiere Pro CS6 outperforms Final Cut Pro X for real-time playback (when left unrendered). In general, user interaction is faster in After Effects, but rendering is often faster in Final Cut Pro X. As with most things related to FCP X, performance on the newest iMacs and MacBook Pros will be better than older Mac Pros. Yamnitsky adds this, “Because FCP X is a very different host, all traditional assumptions about visual effects will be reconsidered. For example, where in other hosts we rely on presets to deliver new looks, in FCP X we can simply export new Motion 5 templates, exposing just enough parameters to make the new look customizable. This approach allows us to avoid complex contextual controls and long parameter stacks.”

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Boris Continuum Complete 8 for Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5 is the most complete package of effects for this combo to date. Quite a few effects, like caustics, 3D text and various distortion effects aren’t available in competing filter packages. Of particular interest is anything involving 3D rendering and shading. When you compare the quality of the BCC lens flares that are done in 3D space or the quality of shaded, extruded text, it’s clear to see that their quality exceeds similar effects available for other plug-in packages. BCC 8 isn’t cheap, but does offer a lot of value. Talk with any professional editor familiar with the BCC set and you’ll find out how important the BCC effects become to solving routine creative challenges.

Originally written for Digital Video magazine / Creative Planet Network.

©2013 Oliver Peters