One of the most appealing video effects must be Picture-in-Picture (PiP). I have seen it used in feature films as well as in news reports. In Final Cut Pro X you can easily create a PiP effect using the built-in Resizing, Rotation and Skewing effects, but if you also want to animate the effect and give it a really nice PiP look, you’ll be busy for a couple of days tweaking and keyframing. And perhaps you’ll end up deciding to do it all inside Motion. In contrast, the Final Cut Pro X plug-in PiPinator 2 does it all with sliders, reducing your two-day nightmare to a gratifying process that needn’t take more than a quarter of an hour.
Divergent Media recently released its EditReady tool, a fast transcoding utility for video production pros. EditReady transcodes media from any QuickTime compatible format to one of the ProRes or DNxHD formats, as well as to H.264. It supports metadata and custom file naming. EditReady looks simple but is pretty powerful — but that’s not why you will want to have a copy.
One of the advantages of digital photography is that you can shoot as many photos of the same subject as you like without worrying too much about composition or, in the case of action photography, of whether your subject was in focus all the time. This advantage is also a disadvantage: you risk stuffing your disk with useless images you’ll probably never going to use. How do you get rid of those duplicates and near-duplicates? Doing it manually is one possible cure, but it’s a lot better for your nerves if you do it with the help of an app. PhotoSweeper assists you when cleaning out your image database.
A 3D Look Up Table (LUT) strictly spoken is a colour management tool originally meant to bridge the differences between a digital workstation’s colour representation and movie film emulsions. Today, a 3D LUT is a full-scale colour grading component. The only problem is that not that many video editors support 3D LUTs while there aren’t that many 3D LUT management applications either. Look Converter therefore is a godsend for everyone who wants to create creative 3D LUTs, while LUT Utility is needed for using LUTs in Final Cut Pro X “natively”.
Final Cut Pro X has a colour grading module, but the interface is non-standard and the capabilities are pretty basic. One FxFactory plug-in that tries to fix this is Hawaiki Color. It’s a plug-in that uses the traditional but familiar interface elements for colour grading: colour wheels and sliders, combined with numeric configuration fields. It extends colour grading inside Final Cut Pro X beyond the basics and is great to work with.
You can remove unwanted objects, skin blemishes and scratches using the Context-aware Spot Healing Brush tool in Photoshop CS6 and later. This brush allows you to quickly paint in the areas that need fixing. Its results are far from perfect from the first try, but with a bit of fine-tuning, you can make unwanted artefacts disappear in a couple of minutes. But what if you don’t have Photoshop? In that case, Snapheal Pro from Macphun is a nice alternative. In addition to making your models look skin-perfect, the app has the basic image adjusting tools. Snapheal Pro is a stand-alone app as well as a plug-in to Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture.
The HERO3+ Black Edition has new firmware since March 2014. Firmware v2 added new controls to GoPro’s flagship camera for setting colour, ISO limit, sharpness and exposure. Meanwhile, Atomos’ Ninja Blade added vectorscope and histogram overlays so you can evaluate the exposure settings of your camera. Atomos’ Blade series also supports colour calibration to ensure accurate colour. Use the two together and you get an ultra-cheap ultra-nice movie recording package.
The GoPro HERO3+ has a new recording/viewing angle: SuperView. Until now, you could only fix SuperView by trying to correct the distortion in mocha Pro, using the lens correction module. The problem with that module is the time it takes to come to an acceptable result for this extreme angle. You’ll have to experiment until you find what works. Crumplepop thought it could do better and released version 2 of its Fisheye Fixer, a Final Cut Pro X plug-in specifically tailored for use with GoPro cameras and now including SuperView fixing. An extra bonus is the Fisheye Maker, with which you can convert ordinary footage to a fisheye look. I am quite fond of Crumplepop because they succeed at always delivering products that meet high standards, and Fisheye Fixer isn’t an exception. The plug-in is simple to use: you drag it to the clip, select one of the viewing angles from the drop-down and if that doesn’t please you enough, there’s a slider to fine-tune the effect. The Fisheye Fixer works as advertised and straightens the …