LIBRARY: Tutorials Reviews Interviews Editorials Features Business Authors RSS Feed

VisionLab Studio/CompositeLab/Effects Lab from Fxhome

COW Library : HDV Format : Jim Harvey : VisionLab Studio/CompositeLab/Effects Lab from Fxhome
VisionLab Studio/CompositeLab/Effects Lab from Fxhome
A Creative COW Product Review

Jim Harvey Reviews VisionLab Studio/CompositeLab/Effects Lab from Fxhome

Jim Harvey Jim Harvey
JHV Digital
New York, USA
©Copyright 2006 Jim Harvey and Creativecow.net. All Rights Reserved
Article Focus:
In this article, CreativeCOW.net contributing editor Jim Harvey takes a look at Vision Lab Studio, Composite Lab and Effects Lab from Fxhome. Read on to find out why Jim calls it 'professional compositing on a budget.'


If you are looking for that "Just Perfect" gift for that special editor in your life (and that editor could be you). Look no further than the Fxhome series of compositing and effects tools know as VisionLab/CompositeLab/EffectsLab. Three programs that can make your compositing chores something that you look forward to rather than cringe. Fxhome has covered all the bases by breaking up the system into three (five if you count the Lites versions) distinct programs.

At the entry level we have CompositeLab and EffectsLab (and their Lites Counterparts) which as their names imply, cover compositing and effects. At $149.00 each ($109.00 for the lites versions) these programs offer easy compositing, the ability to use greenscreen effects, muzzle flashes, light swords  and all manner of optical effects without having to get a degree in special effects first. The third offering is VisionLab Studio ($374.99) which combines both the Effectslab and CompositeLab along with a full commercial use license, advanced digital color grading and many enhanced filters and an excellent particle engine.

Another nice feature is that their website (http://www.fxhome.com) has free video tutorials that you can use to get yourself up to speed (we all know that absolutely NO ONE reads the manual right?) the tutorials can be downloaded so that you can review them at your convenience.

There have been many programs out there over the years that claimed to deliver professional grade effects and compositing tools. Most of them have fallen short in one way or another. After bashing the Fxhome programs for several months, I can tell you that these will be here for a long time. The programs are well crafted, easy to understand, simple to use and capable of the most sophisticated work you could imagine. All without having to mortgage your home to own them.

Some of you may remember the company's first product, a program called ALAM DV an affordable rotoscoping utility which was the brainchild of a couple of young fellows from the University of East Anglia who created possible the best muzzle flash creator around. That program developed somewhat of a cult following, especially with the Indy Filmmaking crowd.  Eventually, they were noticed by Apple Computer who invited them to become one of the initial developers of iMovie Plug-ins. Well, they didn't rest on their laurels, they instead, plowed ahead and refined the program, added features, tweaked settings and developed an exceptional interface that matured into these programs we're discussing today.

In regard to Plug-ins, you have to go to their support site to see how well their community works. Users of the product themselves develop and then post plug-ins that work with the packages. You can choose from literally hundreds of different looks, particle effects, optics, grading and more and download them directly into your project. While some of the plug-ins are elementary (remember, users themselves upload them so there will be varying levels of sophistication) if you take some time to work through the offerings, you will find some extremely high quality plug-ins that aren't available anywhere else. All of the plug-ins (what the Fxhome folks call Fxpresets) are compatible with all versions of the software so you can almost immediately, increase your capabilities with even the least expensive package. A word of warning here; be judicious in choosing your presets. If you download all of them, it will take a bit of time to open the program (yes, I downloaded every single one of them!)

I initially had some questions about different functionalities and found that my questions were answered very quickly. (Remember, NO one reads the manual right?) I was also impressed with the way that they continue to improve the product making upgrades and updates available via their website. They may be a small company, but they offer big customer service. When you start the program it looks to see if there is a newer version available. If so, it allows you the option of downloading that version and updating.

 
Figure A.  On startup, the program looks for newer versions.

 

You can work with any of the following formats, D1/DV PAL, D1/DV NTSC in standard   and widescreen as well as HDV format so your projects will match precisely with the footage that you're dealing with.

Once you get up and running, you're presented with an exceptionally nice workspace. The layout is intuitive and easy to navigate. All the presets and adjustments are available on the left side of the screen and once you have applied a preset to the comp, you can adjust many different parameters to suit your vision. If you need a preset that isn't currently in your arsenal, you can simply click on the preset button and be taken directly to the FXhome website where you can scan for that preset that you want. The entire interface is well thought out and cleverly implemented. I was very impressed with the amount of thought and effort that went into creating the program.

 

Figure B. Attributes and settings can be adjusted in a wide variety of ways, allowing you to tailor each effect to your particular style.


Figure C. The workspace is well laid out and easy to navigate. The Timeline and Keyframes are easy to work with and easy to understand.

Nicest of all is the affordability of each of the packages. If you do any compositing work at all, you can get into this package for a minimal amount of money. Certainly far less than some of the "mainstream" compositing / particle packages charge for similar functionality. Refer to the chart below to see exactly which package suits you and your workflow the best and then drop in on them at  www.fxhome.com.

With everyone clamoring for that "Film Look" just the Grading presets alone would justify investing in this program. Every effect is infinitely adjustable so that you can either use them "as is" or tailor them to your own style or taste. You can save a custom preset for recall at a later date. The particle engine can also be tailored to your specific needs.

   

 

In Conclusion

You can easily see that even the least expensive package still provides a great deal of features and usability. I'm giving the whole group a 4 1/2 Cows because I know that they are continually improving the package. Add an extra 1/2 Cow if customer service means anything to you!


©Copyright 2006 Jim Harvey | Creative Cow
All Rights Reserved


If you got here by a direct link to this page Click here to visit Creative COW's user forums and many other articles





Related Articles / Tutorials:
HDV Format
Demystifying HDV Workflows

Demystifying HDV Workflows

Creative COW Leader Tim Kolb uses his HDV expertise to explore the technology behind HDV, and show how it applies inside Final Cut Pro and other NLEs, with a special focus on longer projects. As Tim notes, this is a modified version of a post he made in the HDV forum responding to a question about FCP, but anyone who wants to know about editing HDV needs to check this out.

Tutorial, Feature
Tim Kolb
HDV Format
Building the Perfect HDV KeyBuilding the Perfect HDV Key

In the first of our Creative COW Magazine Web Extras, we begin with Stephen Smiths outstanding article on setting up an area for proper keying from the May-June 2007 edition. His article covers every option for setting up and lighting perfect keys. Here, we look at the best advice around The COWs online communities for pulling keys from HDV footage.

Tutorial, Feature
Tim Wilson
HDV Format
Sony Vegas 7

Sony Vegas 7

In this article, CreativeCOW.net contributing editor Jim Harvey reviews Sony Vegas 7 and concludes, ''...It Just Keeps Getting Better. For the money, you 'd be hard pressed to find a better editing program.''

Review
Jim Harvey
HDV Format
HandsOn HDV Training DVD for Sony HDR-HC1

HandsOn HDV Training DVD for Sony HDR-HC1

In this article, CreativeCOW.net contributing editor Jim Harvey reviews HandsOn HDV Training DVD for Sony HDR-HC1. HandsOn HDV has produced a DVD training for trhe new Sony HC1, which Jim finds ''...very Informative for the target market and a well produced package.''

Review
Jim Harvey
HDV Format
Taking Sony's HDV Camera to the Outer Limits of Performance

Taking Sony's HDV Camera to the Outer Limits of Performance

Sony has made a big splash in the video world with the release of their HDV camcorder the HVR-Z1U. By itself, it is capable of images that will amaze even the most jaded video professional. But as with all things, there's always room for improvement. By not having a microphone or wide angle supplied, you can choose better components that will enhance the performance of an already incredible camera. In this article, CreativeCOW.net contributing editor Jim Harvey walks CreativeCOW members through what they need to build the Ultimate Z1U set up.

Feature
Jim Harvey
HDV Format
HDV/DV Rack by Serious Magic

HDV/DV Rack by Serious Magic

There are times when a piece of software or hardware comes along that changes your thinking about what tools are critical in your work. DV Rack was one of those pieces for Emmy Award winner, Tim Kolb. The ability to have accurate and comprehensive image and audio quality measurement via FireWire anywhere you can power a laptop changed the way Tim thought about acquiring video. With the arrival of the HDV Power Pak upgrade module, the same technical control is now available for those of us shooting HDV. Read the rest of Tim's review.....

Review
Tim Kolb
HDV Format
High Definition for the Road

High Definition for the Road

Thanks to formats like DVCPro HD and HDV, High Definition can now be edited pretty much anywhere on just about any computer. Yeah, this is cool and you can really make your friends jealous just cutting away with your super slick laptop. But you know what's really slick? Editing Uncompressed High Definition anywhere. How about an Uncompressed editing workstation in a 25'' square box? No way? Way! Read on to find out about Wally's Traveling Box of Mystery and Intrigue...

Tutorial, Feature
Walter Biscardi
HDV Format
Sony FX1-Z1U Made Easy

Sony FX1-Z1U Made Easy

CreativeCOW leader and Video enthusiast Steven Gotz takes a look at the Elite Video tutorials Sony FX1-Z1U Made Easy and concludes ''..these training DVDs really cover all of the necessary topics for anyone who has purchased, or is thinking of purchasing either one of these Sony HDV camcorders.''

Review
Steven Gotz
HDV Format
HDV vs HD: A Primer

HDV vs HD: A Primer

Emmy Award winner, Tim Kolb discusses HDV and its place in the greater scope of HD production formats. Since the inception of the HDV format, we have seen many responces regarding the HDV format and how it fits alongside HDCam, DVCProHD, XDCam and other formats in the greater scope of the HD picture. In this article (which is taken from an HDV Format forum responce), Creative Cow's Tim Kolb gives what we feel is an exemplary job of dissecting the subject and clarifying the many components of the HD universe, HDV being one of those parts....

Tutorial, Feature
Tim Kolb
HDV Format
Sony HVR-Z1U and HDR-FX1: First Impressions

Sony HVR-Z1U and HDR-FX1: First Impressions

CreativeCOW.net contributing editor Jim Harvey just made the leap to HDV by acquiring one of SONYs new HDV Cameras the HVR-Z1U. Then he was faced with learning his new camera. In this article, Jim takes a look at HandsOnHDV and has determined that they have put together the definitive training DVD for Sonys New HDV Cameras.

Review
Jim Harvey
MORE
© 2016 CreativeCOW.net All Rights Reserved
[TOP]