15 April 2015

Final Cut Pro 10,2

After a long wait, Apple has released an updated version of not only Final Cut, but Compressor and Motion. Final Cut being the centre point the others are attached to, it makes sense to mostly talk about how it's changed.

Not much really.

To be fair, they did handle some issues and it is much faster. The interface is easier to navigate and the long standing requests to have multiple scope displays for colour correcting have been answered. It also has some interesting new features like drawing masks, automatic smart collections created when you start a project and the big one... 3D titles.

The new 3d titles is an interesting, well thought out feature no one asked for and frankly isn't going to interest professionals in film production. I can see it being more helpful to what is now FCPs apparent new core base, makers of industry films, seminar videos and the like. Apple is making a huge deal of this feature which is even better implemented in Motion where it belongs more than in a non linear editing program.

Unfortunately, this leaves the functions editors have been begging for still left undone. There is no separate audio track so you can time a project to music, like for a music video as an example ( there are work arounds, but in my opinion a workaround solution just says Apple has fail to provide a real solution to an everyday need for many editors). The timeline doesn't slide with the playhead as it does even in iMovie yet and there is not send to Motion command to add affects to a clip you are working on which should have been in the software day one. Despite many proponents taking every little incremental step forward as a sure sign Apple has not abandoned professional film makers, this new update does nothing to support those claims.

Motion has also been updated and the new 3D titles fit in better with it's set of tools but more importantly, Apple seems to have.. at least on my system, been finally.. finally.. able to get much better real time playback and the software opens right away now. Those two little things have kept me form using Motion over After Effects since I first bought Motion as a stand alone product years ago.

Compressor I don't use, or I haven't used since the Final Cut 7 version so I can't really say much about it except the last few versions have not been all that well received. The ability to export directly to iTunes to sell your video does seems like a great feature once you've jumped through all the hurdles of getting approved and the rights to sell your stuff in the iTunes store.

09 April 2015

X Particles 3 for Cinema 4D

What is it?
It’s a particle generator that goes far beyond the native systems in C4d allowing more control, more options and (with version 3) liquid, smoke and fire effects.

How good is it?
In brief, very good. Fairly easy to use and learn for something that has an infinite number of variations and options. While is clearly states it’s liquids and smoke effects are not cinema quality, they certainly can be used for cinematic projects. Rendering of the particles is very fast in the viewport and many things can be altered on the fly saving time and allowing you to play around before committing to anything. This plugin has great flocking controls and allows particles to collide with other particles, spawn new particles on collision… pretty much anything you would need to do… it does. Mograph and other native Cinema 4 functions and modifiers will work seamlessly with it as well which really gives it more power even professional users will ever need.

What are the limitation?
Like most particle simulators, looking at the particles in the viewport isn’t a problem… rendering them out is. Version 3 was released with a lot of very simple helpful tutorials for registered users but they were lacking in some very basic areas… in my opinion. The biggest issue for me is the smoke and fire rendering. For some reason, if you set up their automatic system heir achy, the gaseous shader they provide won't always render. More to the point - getting a decent looking and fast render is really difficult to accomplish. There needs to be a fire, smoke preset of something that gets you up and running quickly and I would prefer some feature that automatically helps sets up render settings, maybe a low-medium-high systems like Maxon’s physical render engine has for motion blur to help you simplify the stupefying amount of factors you need to navigate to get a final result that looks good but renders quickly enough to actually be useful in project. The gaseous shader is a brand new feature, so I expect it will be greatly improved on as X particles is not noted for sitting on hands for very long when it comes to improving the product. 

In summary

is it worth it? Yes it is despite any problems it may have at present. It is light years above the horrible pyrocluster feature in C4D which even deleted the one feature that made it usable (the ability to post render which was very fast) and it has so many useful features from simple to complex that the normal emitter is pretty much useless.

x particles tests from Vincent-louis Apruzzese on Vimeo.