[This article was first published in the September, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.]
(To read my disclosure policy on product reviews, please click here.)
One of the fun tasks in creating my weekly webinars is learning all kinds of new products. There are three that I want to highlight for you this month. The first one is NewBlueFx.
NewBlue (www.newbluefx.com) is new to the Mac, but not new to creating effects. They’ve been providing interesting effects to Windows users for several years.
They began in 2001, supplying video effects to the OEM market; that is, they sold to companies that make products to sell to end-users. The founders of the company — Todor Fay and Melissa Jordan Grey (no relation) — also founded The Blue Ribbon Soundworks in 1988 to create music and audio software. Bars&Pipes and AudioActive were their most well-known products.
They now provide effects and transitions for Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Liquid, Avid Media Composer, Corel VideoStudio, Pinnacle Studio, Sony Vegas, and Thomson Grass Valley Edius.
So they’ve been in the industry for a long time – but new to the Mac.
Recently, Sandy Berman, in their marketing department, contacted me to talk about their new Mac effects plug-ins, marketed as NewBlueFX. Unlike some developers, they sell their plug-ins in bundles of 10-12 effects per bundle. Price range from $79 to $139 per bundle. They have transitions, filters, and image repair tools to choose from.
While they have over 100 effects to choose from, in this technique, I want to highlight three:
One of the hallmarks of NewBlueFX is a very easy-to-use interface with lots of choices. Let me illustrate.
They have five transition bundles: 3D Explosions, 3D Transformations, Art Blends, Motion Blends, and Paint Blends.
Here’s an example of a 3D Transformation transition. (By the way, it is REALLY hard to capture a 3D move as a 2D screen shot…) This is transitioning from black into a clip.
Here’s what the transition interface looks like. Very clean, with a modest number of controls. The general philosophy here is to grab a handle, drag it, and if you like it — use it.
Here are the presets available for one particular effect. All a preset does is adjust the settings of the individual sliders in the transition. You can adjust the sliders yourself and save it as your own preset. You access personal presets at the bottom of this menu using Load preset…
So although there are about ten effects in each bundle, each effect has many different presets, which means you have lots of options in how these look.
They have three Video Essential bundles to pick from, each with a variety of effects. One that I was particularly struck by was in Video Essentials 1, which contains an easy to use color corrector and a filter that removes camera flashes from a video. (Think weddings…)
This is an amazing tool. When you apply the filter, it goes through your video, finding frames which have been over-exposed due to flashes. Then, it copies the frame prior to it and replaces the frame with the flash, making the flash disappear.
This technique works best on those images where the subject is not moving quickly, otherwise you see a slight jump in the movement. But, for many scenes, this can be a life-saver.
NOTE: I’m grateful to MintySlippers.com, a UK-based wedding videographer, for permission to use this clip and the next one.
Here’s how this filter works.
1. Select the clip containing the flashes you want to remove.
2. Apply Effects > Video Filters > NewBlue Video Essentials > Flash Remover
3. Double-click the clip to load it into the Viewer.
4. Set the top popup to match the lighting of the room, in this case, it is neither dark nor bright, so I select Typical.
5. Normally, you won’t need to adjust Threshold as the preset does it for you. However, if the filter doesn’t sense flashes, tweak this a bit.
And that’s it. As soon as you render the clip, all your flashes are gone!
When it comes to cool, interesting visual effects, there are tons to choose from. In the case of NewBlueFX, most of their plugins would be categorized as visual effects. Rather than simply list them here, I want to showcase just one.
Think of doing a wedding video, a romantic scene, or a dream sequence. We want to soften the image to heighten the emotion. The image on the left was how it was shot, the image on the right is after the filter. Here’s how we got there:
1. Select the clip and apply Effects > Video Filters > NewBlue Video Essentials > Soft focus
2. Double-click the clip to load it into the Viewer and click the Filters tab.
3. Change the popup from Soften to Dream.
As before, the presets in the popup simply adjust the sliders. You can achieve the same effect by manually adjusting the sliders. Or, you can modify the effect by selecting a popup and gently tweaking the sliders.
There are several things I like about the NewBlueFX effects:
However, I’ve had conversations with the company about how they bundle their products. They are new to the professional video market and some of their selections, while great for the iMovie set, have limited value in high-production-quality projects.
What I suggest they do, since they’ve already created the software, is look at creating specific bundles for our industry. For example, a “Repair” bundle, a “Transitions Variety” bundle, and a “Killer Look” bundle.
Still, if you haven’t checked these folks out, they are worth your time. They have some effects here that I haven’t seen anywhere else.