Reviews, Video

ScopeBox serves parades, histograms and video scopes to your NLE or compositing app

video scopes within scopebox

ScopeBox displays video scopes, regardless of whether your clip is processed with EditReady — before you transcode them — or Final Cut Pro X, Premiere Pro and other apps. It does so via ScopeLink, a clever system that allows ScopeBox to integrate with a slew of supported applications, including SpeedGrade, various versions of After Effects, Prelude and Pomfort Silverstack. In addition, ScopeBox provides scopes for live sources such as BlackMagic Design and Aja input equipment, and for movie clips stored on your disk(s).

When you launch the app, ScopeBox is an empty black canvas, waiting for you to activate a source. I first tried ScopeBox with one of the video clips saved to my media disk. ScopeBox dutifully showed me the waveform and vectorscope it loads by default. It also showed me a preview of the clip and the clip itself with controls for playing and fast forward/reverse. The default clip that always sits in the source list at the top also has a snapshot button for taking stills — that button only appears when you’re feeding ScopeBox with a live feed. To be honest, viewing a movie clip that sits on your disk doesn’t make much sense. You’ll only be able to view the video scopes and graphs, but that’s it. No surprise then that most users will love ScopeLink.

That’s how most users will use ScopeBox: pulling in the source from a processing app such as EditReady, Final Cut Pro X or other NLE’s. Another usage scenario would be that you evaluate clips managed by a DAM system like Pomfort Silverstack. Live sources are a third useful scenario. Live sources require expensive equipment that I don’t have to test with, so I tried ScopeBox with both EditReady and Final Cut Pro X and it worked like a charm.

video scopes within scopebox

There is an impressive range of video scopes you can display and they all have customisable settings. Scopes include the obligatory vectorscope and RGB parade, but there’s also an YCbCr parade, waveform, HML (High, Mid, Low) Balance scope, channel plot, RGB and luma histograms, and two audio meters — levels and surround levels. Loudness meters as those from NUGENaudio are very important these days, but they are not included. There’s also a menu option called Quartz Composer but that didn’t open or launch anything on my system, nor did the audio meters work for that matter.

The ScopeBox interface itself is a large window with a source bar running across the top, an optional clip listing at the bottom, a configuration inspector at right and the working window that holds the scopes. Video scopes can be freely moved around in this area, but you can also have them snap to invisible grid lines for a cleaner, more organised look. Setups can be saved as “layouts”. When you have a lot of scopes active, the ScopeBox interface may take up almost the whole screen. To make it easier to see the scopes you want to see, you can detach selected scopes as windows. However, the scope windows don’t stay visible when obscured by another app like for example Final Cut Pro X, i.e. they don’t float.

Consequently, to really benefit from ScopeBox, you should ideally have two monitors — which most professional video editors do.

Do you need ScopeBox’s many video scopes?

With most NLEs having a whole range of colour, luminance and audio analysis tools built-in, the question arises whether you need ScopeBox at all, except perhaps to integrate with EditReady. The answer is unequivocally that you do. It’s far more efficient to be able to view all the relevant scopes simultaneously than having to switch between them. I seem to remember (but I could be wrong) Avid Media Composer and Da Vinci Resolve to be the only ones where you don’t have to switch between scopes.

That means ScopeBox fills a void with highly customisable and well-designed meters and scopes. There’s one scope I would like to see updated, though. The vectorscope can be shown as weighted or as colour “flare”. I would love to see the rendering of that option with smoother colours, less pixellated when resized to something bigger than its default — and rather small — state.

ScopeBox costs about €88.70.