This Final Cut Pro plug-in package features a particularly dense and easy-to-use selection of filters and tools for the price
And what are all the transitions, effects and generators you get for $399? One thing that I always look at when trying to perceive the value of a plug-in package is how many of the effects and/or transitions will I actually use vs. how many are included in total. It looks good from a marketing standpoint to include tons of plug-ins for the price. But if they just sit unused, where’s the value in that? Determining what you need will help you figure out if a bundle makes sense. An offline editor doesn’t have as much call for glows and highly stylized picture filters, as does an editor who is finishing jobs on his/her system. Products like CoreMelt are geared toward those who do it all.
Tools for Editors
My first interest went immediately to the Editors Tools. These include a number of filters, transitions and two generators. If you’ve ever been asked to blur out a logo or a face then you’ll appreciate the Witness Protection and Blur Gradient filters. While they won’t replace a dedicated tracking application for complex blurs on moving footage they are both fully keyframable and easy to use. Both the Dewrinkler and Diffusion can be used to take the hard edge off an aging face or the whole frame. Old TV gives your footage that tube-like, rounded corner feel of an old television set without it screaming Final Cut Pro effect to the viewer. And Camera Shake can be dialed down to give a convincing handheld feel to static footage.
Pigment Color Tools is the second set that will probably find most use in an editor’s hands. These include color correction and grading effects like Bleach Bypass, Day for Night, Filmic Look and an Advanced Vignette. Will the CoreMelt color tools replace a dedicated color correction package like Magic Bullet Colorista or even FCP’s built-in 3-way Color Corrector? Definitely not, but with CoreMelt, it’s very quick and easy to apply some specific looks with minimal work.
What if an editor can only afford one plug-in package? CoreMelt would be near the top of the list, as you get a great variety of tools for the price.
Though this version two of the plug-in suite will work with multiple hosts, it works especially well inside Final Cut Pro. The CoreMelt engineers have added their own custom slider bars that replace some of the traditional sliders in the FCP filter tab and often reflect the color or the luminance value you’re tweaking. They have also added a curve graph that pops up when you adjust any of the parameters that show a graphical representation of what you’re doing. It’s particularly nice for someone trying to learn about the different values and what they mean. All of the effects have the ability to save a preset to call up later; some even come with presets built-in. If you select a preset, you have to click the Load selected Preset button to apply which takes an extra step. One small gripe: It would be nice if it would apply after you selected it from the pop-up. It’s great to see some customization added to the stale Final Cut Pro interface. Let’s hope this can be advanced even more.
Other nice features include one-click help, as well as a global setting for clamping colors and applying motion blur. On one of my two test machines the global motion blur would cause the image to go dark. It seems the issue could be traced to the graphics card and the developers are working on a fix for that particular card. That’s another plus for packages like CoreMelt that come from small developers. The team is very responsive to customer issues and regularly monitors forums at http://www.vtwinfx.com/.
I’m sure many of you are wondering if V2 will work with the latest version of Final Cut Pro 7. I asked CoreMelt developer Roger Bolton if there are any compatability issues with the new version. “We are testing CoreMelt v2 with FCP 7 right now and we expect a minor update to be released to fix any problems with FCP 7 within one week,” he told me. “This will be a free update to all CoreMelt V2 customers,” he added.
The CoreMelt V2 package is one of the more full featured, yet affordable set of plug-ins available for Final Cut Pro. It’s also worth noting that it runs in Motion 3.0.2 or later, Final Cut Express 4 and Adobe After Effects CS3 and CS4. If you own the first version and are happy with the performance, the upgrade price may not be worth as much to you as it might be to a new user coming to CoreMelt for the first time. I didn’t see huge jumps in render times and/or playback quality under the Unlimited RT setting in the FCP timeline, though the version 1 performance was quite good on my 8-core 3 GHz Mac Pro. The V2 real-time performance in Motion was quite good, however, so it’s a real pleasure to tweak the settings and play around in real time. If you can only afford one plug-in effects package in the $400 range, the CoreMelt Complete V2 should be a contender. As you’d expect, a free trial is available. Give CoreMelt V2 a run and make an informed decision based on your specific set of project requirements.