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Issue: July 1, 2008

REVIEW: NEWBLUEFX FOR AVX

By: Jonathan Moser
PRODUCT: NewBlueFX for AVX

WEBSITE: www.newbluefx.com

PRICING: Entire package, $499; also available as individual filters.

- Fully keyframable
- Wide assortment of transitions
- Many presets for quick use
- Very friendly user help with animations

One of the reasons I became a video editor was because I like to play with toys, and among the coolest toys editors have are AVX filters. Recently I had a chance to test a new filters package from NewBlueFX.

This is NewBlue's first foray into the Avid world (they are available for Adobe Premiere, Avid's Liquid and Pinnacle, Sony Vegas and Grass Valley Edius), and if these filters are any indication, it won't be their last.

Installation is straightforward. On the Media Composer, the installer dropped all modules into the effects palette and the Avid immediately found them. The help menus are unique in their use of animations to visually show you the effect each filter will have on your material. In fact, user friendliness in the form of help files and Website links is among the best I have seen.

There are currently seven modules in all; a few are redundant, but there's still great variety. Some create auto-transitions when dropped in between clips. All parameters are keyframe-able and all come with several presets that are modifiable but give you a base to start from.

THE MODULES

Some of these effects are simply retro. 3D Explosions offer a wide assortment of the types of rotating cubes and slick confetti transitions that were overused in the '80s and '90s…with a few new tricks like defocusing and motion blur at key points thrown in. There are lots of slabs with shading and effects with names like Blow Apart, Bouncing Frames, Grid Explosion and Vortex. This gives you an inkling of what to expect. Within these are various imaginative presets that evoke even other uses — light tunnel, maladjusted revolving door and migraine. The thing about this particular module is that while some effects are evocative of over-done earlier effects, there's enough dynamic freshness among some of the others that these could easily be used to create a unique visual identity on newer shows (as long as you show a little restraint).

3D Transformations are similar to Explosions, but offer more geometric transitions, from an origami unfolding box reveal, various Rubik's Cube moves and lattice-work transitions…some not quite past the '80s demo reel look. These are a little clunky for 2008, but there are enough gems to make it worth it.

Another more useful set is the Motion Effects module encompassing motion and light effects ranging from familiar shake-type effects to subtle light diffraction, ripple and wave effects. These can nicely simulate a number of different shaky-cam effects, all fully customizable. NewBlue's algorithms seem to hold up resolution pretty well without introducing artifacts. The Earthquake module offers no less than five types of quake action, from the Big One to Trembler. Are they convincing? Let's just say they deserve to be in any natural disaster production's toolkit. Other modules in this set offer lens blur, rippling, water and diffraction-type effects with lots of variation and flexibility. A lot of the presets here are very unusual, involving extreme light-bending, hallucinogenic POV and uses not immediately obvious, such as heat ripple and subtle lighting effects, which can add a lot to a production.

The Motion Blends module features transition effects that range from hyperkinetic film projector-type transitions to morph-type transitions with wacky motion blur. (The Broken Movie effect that simulates a breaking film is pretty spiffy, doesn't need too much tweaking and is relatively novel). Other transitions use motion blur in subtle ways, but are not quite as useful as others. Some, such as TV Reception, are right out of The Outer Limits' school of effects. Several of these do a very adequate job of creating sudden motion blur zooms without too much keyframing and can be very useful in fast-cut montage work.

Art Blends offers some subtle and other not-so-subtle alpha-type key transitions between clips. Some with non-additive mix qualities, others with various types of coloration, posterization, solarization and feathering (again with many useful presets).

Art Effects, not transformations, add textures and color effects over your video. From gauzy soft focus to variable lens blurs, extreme posterization and intense colors, there's a huge palette choice. Some of them are extreme, totally changing the overall picture to expressionistic, abstract, psychedelic video. These are definitely an acquired taste — but some will come in handy in a pinch, such as Night Vision.

The Film Effects module gives us a vast variety of effects to change video into the nastiest, dirtiest, grungiest, hair and lint-encrusted film look you could want while giving you plenty of latitude in-between. With variable gate and shutter weave, all parameters are variable.

While these filters might not go into color alteration as much as some competitors, the sheer volume of effects makes up for this.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Will NewBlueFX replace the more established and pricier suites like Boris's Continuum and GenArts Sapphire? While it's a robust set that will add some new, unique and vital stylizations and transitions, it's not quite as complete a set as the others, but for the cost, I have no doubt that NewBlueFX will become a popular choice for many working editors.

Where this set shines is ease of use: the learning curve is practically non-existent since the defaults almost always include full transitions so editors don't have to guess how to transform from point A to B, unlike some other competing filter sets.

NewBlueFX's AVX filters are a welcome addition to any Avid editor's toolset — and a lot of fun to use.

Jonathan Moser is a Freelance Editor/Producer who can be reached through his Website, www.jonathanmoser.net.