ProAnimator 7 (Review)

ProAnimator 7

Zaxwerks has long been a denizen of the Adobe After Effects environs. They’ve chosen a very specific niche that has brought them success in the world of television bumpers and titling. The release of ProAnimator 7 offers some capabilities worth looking at that may be attractive to the microfilmmaker. The new features bring a significant level of simplicity to doing complex, 3D/CG lighting that resembles stages or ‘Events’ where bright lights, high activity and visual excitement is the rule. Tucked along with this significant new ability is a revisited level of texture/material controls that make creating CG environments…


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Adobe Creative Cloud (Software Review)

Creative Cloud Cover

Here we go again; Adobe is unleashing its latest product line for creative types and some of the new features are going to blow your mind. HOWEVER, you have to conform to Adobe’s new content delivery standards. Gone are the days when you could purchase a software license to use as you please, for years to come if need be. Now we have gone from “buying” a license to “renting” one. Creative Cloud offers an online account that features Adobe’s vast collection of products. Subscribing allows access for a lower price than buying software outright used to be. But the option of buying the software outright is now gone…


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Photoshop CC (Software Review)

Photoshop CC

Adobe Photoshop is the Gold standard in photo editing software and over the last 15 or so years it’s also become a much more accessible program. When first introduced it probably seemed like dark magic voodoo, with the ability to bring back the old days of “yellow journalism.” What started off as simple photo manipulation has since evolved into complex tinkering with seemingly endless options. The newest version—Photoshop CC—requires…


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Impackt (Software Review)

Impackt Product Shot

As microfilmmakers, we are used to making fast cuts and thoughtful fades between scenes and camera angles. However, if your story telling demands something more evocative and lyrical, then Luca Visual FX Impackt transitions is worth a look. Just so everything is up-front, this plug in is part of the Noise Industries, FactoryFX plug-in management system and is only for Mac Final Cut Pro 10 in conjunction with FactoryFX v4 or later…


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Photoshop Lightroom 5 (Software Review)

Lightroom 5 Cover

Most microbudget filmmakers have to wear a ton of different hats. Since the video DSLR revolution, more and more low-budget filmmakers can afford to have an extra one of these cameras on set and, when one isn’t being used for video, it’s grabbing behind-the-scenes images and marketing stills. Having a production-based still image software that’s relatively inexpensive is a great way to capitalize on this…


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CrazyTalk7 Pro (Software Review)

CrazyTalk 7 Pro Cover

When presented with the need to create an original animated show for an affiliate, we delved into CrazyTalk7. The CrazyTalk franchise is designed to simplify animation for “talking-head”-type pieces by having mouth animation interpreted automatically off the syllables and phonemes in an audio track and applied to a mapped picture or drawing. (In past versions, the auto animation was limited mainly to mouth movement with a median level of eye blinking to go with it. In CrazyTalk7, however, the core animation is now much more robust…


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Premiere Pro CC (Software Review)

Premiere Pro CC Cover

As a longtime Premiere Pro user, the first thing I noticed is that there’s been somewhat of an overhaul to the look of your timeline, which goes well beyond what you’d typically see in a “.5” upgrade, although the timing of this release is just a little over one year past when we first saw Premiere Pro CS6. Ultimately a couple of the new features immediately make the program easier to use, while a few left me scratching…


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Corel VideoStudio Pro X6 (Review)

VideoStudio Pro X6

Well, the new version, Corel VideoStudio X6 has just arrived, and it offers up many new bells and whistles including 4K support, a subtitle editor (with voice detection), motion tracking, movie files with alpha layers and more. (And folks who’ve been dismayed to see a well-known competitor go to an all subscription basis will be pleased to note that you can actually own a copy of VideoStudio Pro X6, not just rent it!)


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Sapphire 7 (Review)

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GenArt’s Sapphire has been one of my go to effects plug-ins for the last few years, and I was eager to see what the new version had to offer. Although the price point is a bit steep, you’ll find tons of effects that prove quality can live alongside quantity quite nicely, more so than many of the other massive FX bundles.


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Trash 2 (Review)

Trash 2 is a rebirth of the classic distortion plugin used by musicians and filmmakers alike!

Nearly 10 years ago, iZotope released a product called Trash, an audio plugin that gave users a wide array of tools to distort and mangle audio. It has been heavily used by bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Garbage, and Sigur Ros and has served the music and film industry well over the years. Just a few months ago, iZotope released the rebirth of this classic plugin now called Trash 2, and it’s better than ever. Whether you are a sound designer mangling sound effects or a filmmaker looking to add some grit to some background music in your next short film, Trash 2 has an application for everyone in the music and film industry.


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Alloy 2 (Review)

iZotope_Alloy2_Limiter

Alloy 2 gives filmmakers and sound designers seven stellar tools to shape and form audio, arguably one of the most important and yet most ignored parts of a film. Assuming a basic knowledge of mixing, users will love Alloy’s user-friendly interface, wallet-friendly price tag and reliable performance. If you take Alloy 2 for a test run, be sure to pair it with a trial of Ozone 5 and let these products speak for themselves.


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Photoshop Elements 11 (Review)

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Instead of a magical “instant fix” in the Quick path where there are few choices, or an overwhelming list of options in Expert, the new Guided Edits path lets the creative side of the user flow as you do things like add depth of field or a high key effect to a photo. In the Guided area, you are led step-by-step through each phase of adjustment, using your eye and goal for the project. What you get is rather impressive, even if you are an amateur photographer using a point and shoot camera.


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Premiere Elements 11 (Review)

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However, PRE11 seems to be much cleaner and faster. There is very little lag in response time and my old problems of dropped frames, uneven pans, and errors have vanished. To get an accurate preview of the edited video you have to render the Timeline, which used to be a slow process and not always successful. Now the Render tab is on the top of the Timeline and is much more responsive and effective. The preview plays accurately and there are no unpleasant surprises by the final product during publication.


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Reason 6.5 (Review)

Reason 6.5 Cover

Hailing from Sweden, Reason 6.5 is a music creation program for the Mac and PC. Reason supplies users with everything necessary to create film scores and sound effects from scratch—everything from synthesizers and sampled pianos to drum kits and orchestral strings. Unlike SonicFire Pro, the ability to write music is a prerequisite for this program, and those familiar with playing a musical instrument (preferably the piano) will find this program much easier to navigate. The quality of the sampled instruments is quite good for the price, and the possibilities to create new sounds with digital synthesizers are endless.


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