FxFactory Pro 4 brings together hundreds of VFX that you didn’t know you ever needed, so a huge slice of decision making process is needed to choose, especially from the for sale third party offerings. ADAM GARSTONE finds his favourites amongst a nicely curated approach to VFX delivery.
Option Paralysis. It’s a terrible affliction.
When you drive into a car park that’s almost full, it’s easy. You circle endlessly up those concrete ramps until you spot an empty slot, park up, and Bob’s your Uncle. But drive into an empty car park, and the choice of all those possible parking places paralyses you. Which one to choose? One that’s easy to park in, or one nearer the lifts? Or perhaps it would be better to be near the pay-and-display machine? You have to make a decision – it’s terrifying.
If you suffer from Option Paralysis, for gods’ sake don’t buy Noise Industries’ FxFactory Pro 4. The basic installation gives you 176 filters, generators and transitions for Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Final Cut Pro 7 and Motion, and 160 for Final Cut Pro X. As well as the Noise Industry effects, FxFactory allows in-app purchasing of plug-ins from a variety of developers (Yanobox, Stupid Raisins, Nattress, Dashwood, PHYX, Idustrial Revolution and Luca to name just a few). Faced with a sequence that needs a bit of spicing up, the glossy options that FxFactory offers can leave you catatonic with indecision.
To make it worse, all this is in a package which is appallingly easy to use. Installation is straightforward, loading both the control application, and the default plug-ins (into the appropriate places for each supported NLE/Graphics package). Running the control application gives you a single window from which you can download free plug-ins, and purchase costed ones. Prices range from $29 to $99 – at the upper end, you’re often getting a package of effects, like Sugarfx’s lovely Lens Flare package.
The FxFactory included effects are simple but useful. There are blurs, glows and colour correction effects, some distortion filters and surprisingly good generators for noise, halos and so on. For a full list, check out www.noiseindustries.com/fxfactorypro. There are also some great third party freebies, like Andy’s Safe Guides (action and title safe overlays including the BBC/EBU specification).
The default installation enables trial versions of all the plug-ins available through FxFactory. Fortunately, through the control application, you can disable plug-ins individually or turn off all the trial packages. Your NLE or graphics software will then only present you with the options you have bought.
One thing you will notice, however, is that none of the transitions appear in the Video Transitions folder in Adobe’s Premiere Pro 6. It doesn’t support any of the transition effects – this is a limitation of Premiere, not of FxFactory. However, in FxFactory Pro 4, Noise Industries have come up with a workaround. The transition plug-ins show up as Effects in Premiere, rather than transitions. They can then be applied to the incoming clip and composited with the outgoing clip (you control the transition length by razor blading the incoming clip or by keyframing). It’s messy, and certainly not as slick as FCP 7 or X, but it works.
The third party effects are, in the main, excellent – a benefit, perhaps, of the curated nature of selling through Noise Industries. I’m a particular fan of Yanobox Nodes, which generates visualisations of data and connections using nodes and lines. The PHYX keyer is one of the best plug-in keyers around and, for something a bit more unusual, Ripple Training’s Callouts for FCP X is fun. Another benefit of the curatorial approach is that there is no ‘house style’. Each developer’s offerings are very different, meaning that there is something there for everybody.
The plug-ins benefit from GPU acceleration, so they are reasonably speedy as well as pretty, and I haven’t had significant reliability issues – Noise Industries issue frequent, automatic software updates which even seem to keep up with the pace of change in FCP X. The FxFactory control application provides links to YouTube tutorials for the effects, so you can see how they work before you buy (not forgetting that you have a trial version available as well).
FxFactory is available as a free download from www.noiseindustries.com, which gives you access to all the free plug-ins and the in-app purchase of individual third-party offerings (and their trial versions). If you want the Noise Industry filters, transitions and generators, then you can buy the ‘Pro’ version online for $399. It’s definitely worth trying out, if you have the mental discipline to cope with the choices.