Those clever chaps at HitFilm, a British software development firm, have unleashed some of their effects technology as a series of standalone plug-ins for various editing programs including Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X and Sony Vegas Pro.
This means that instead of having to export your project to HitFilm’s standalone effects suite you can now, through the magical power of “OFX”, simply add an effect directly to your media on the edit timeline. This is convenient and, dare we say it, fun.
This stuff is not cheap mind you; the bundle costs $499 USD which translates to a very irritating £410 when you change the country to UK – something to do with tax regimes, according to HitFilm. Oddly, this is $100 USD more than their standalone product which actually offers more functionality (such as motion tracking and other goodies). But if you don’t want to muck about exporting media between two bits of software, then the plug-in bundle is the one you want.
I won’t list the entire set of effects included here – you can see that at www.hitfilm.com/plugins and in the image below – but there’s over 130 of them which includes some particle generation (lightening, rain, blood), multiple keying options, lighting and colour tweaking.
Be aware that some of the effects appear to duplicate what you could achieve with another plugin so there’s not quite as much as you think though the list is still extensive. For example, there’s a standalone Grain effect and another to add a vignette. Both of these also appear in the Cine Style effect so there’s a certain degree of overlap.
Installation was easy and there’s a time-unlimited trial version you can download though HitFilm then start sending you unwanted emails saying how pleased they are that you’re trying it out. Stop it! Also, there’s a HUGE watermark over the entire image so you can’t sensibly try out any of the colouration effects since the result is mostly obscured by the watermark. We understand, obviously, that HitFilm need to protect their software but really, some sensible area of the screen could have been left untouched for the purposes of the trial!
One useful point to note is that if you do stump up the cash, the software’s licensed for two machines (such as a desktop PC and a laptop), and for any and all of the editing software you have on those computers. So if you use both Premiere Pro and Vegas on one PC, with FCP X on a Mac laptop, you can use the software on all of those platforms, which is nice. Also, not every effect is available for each editor so check the one you want works with your choice of software.
The effects are fully tweakable, with keyframe adjustment so you can vary the parameters over time. Throughout our testing we had no crashes or unexpected issues. Playback and rendering performance was dependent entirely on which effect (or sequence of effects!) that was added, varying from no apparent impact to slowing the PC to a crawl. Overall though, performance was distinctly brisk.
The HitFilm effects are both useful and enjoyable. It’s easy to get carried away when playing but we can certainly imagine various scenarios where the effects would help create a certain look not just within programme footage but within titles and stings and suchlike. Given that Premiere Pro, Vegas and FCP come with quite extensive colour correction and image manipulation effects built in, we’re not going to rush out and buy HitFilm until a project comes in that specifically demands an effect that it offers.
At £410 this is no impulse purchase (oddly, at £199 we’d have snapped it up just for laughs which must say something about our psychology…) but if you can justify the need for the effects and haven’t already got them elsewhere from the likes of NewBlue, GenArts and so on, then they’re a decent set to have in your arsenal.