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July 2014
Issue: May 1, 2009

REVIEW: THE FOUNDRY'S FURNACE PLUG-INS FOR FCP

By: Deb Eschweiler
PRODUCT: The Foundry's Furnace for Final Cut Pro

WEBSITE: www.thefoundry.co.uk

PRICING: $500
- DeFlicker is shot saving
- Kronos offer versatile speed control
- MotionBlur helps sell slo-mo shots

When I first was introduced to The Foundry's new Furnace plug-ins for Final Cut Pro, I was amazed! Filters that actually fix stuff! Now that's the kind of thing a working editor needs! The premise of using The Foundry's proven ultra-high-grade math to figure out what's wrong with a video clip and fix it with only minor tweaking seemed too good to be true, so I set out to test them on my own.

My source footage was a mixture of original DVCAM sources from clients and some stock footage. I edited in an uncompressed 10-bit timeline in FCP 6.0.5 on a dual 2GHz G5. If you aren't of a patient nature, you probably don't want to be working with these filters on a dual 2GHz G5.

THE FIX

I started with the DeNoise and DirtRemoval plug-ins. I had an old telecine transfer of a 1960's-era commercial on DVCAM from a client's history video. The noise clean up on that came easy. I dropped the DeNoise filter on a short clip and played with the Analysis Method. After trying out a few of the settings, I ended up leaving it at the default and using the Auto Analysis. The results were noticeably smooth, and overall left the clip better than I found it.
I went to work next with DirtRemoval. I started with the De-Noise filter already in place. I settled on the Very Aggressive preset for my old spot. The overall clean-up was noticeably better than the pre-treated spot. Small bits of dirt were taken care of quite nicely. However, there were three really big pieces of dirt (one dirt, two hair) that proved to be peskier. I tried several different options, and was not able to completely remove all three pieces of big dirt using just the filter. I was able to minimize them, however. To completely remove them, I needed to do an old-fashioned patch with a slice of nearby clean frame. There was a tinge of overall softness added to the frame, but I felt like it was an acceptable trade-off on this spot. The softness lessened the more I dialed back to one of the less aggressive presets, yet as expected, more of the dirt was left behind.

ReGrain is interesting. I took two shots from two different '60's-era spots. First, I used DeNoise as the default to remove the existing grain on one shot. I added ReGrain to the clip, chose a preset and slid the Grain Scale and Grain Gain sliders to roughly the middle, so I could get grain that was obvious to my eyes. Then using FCPs Copy & Paste Attributes functions, I copied both filters to the second clip, giving them both the same grain. This helped make both shots look like they belonged together better. ReGrain has many more possible applications, including a Source Grain Well that allows the user to use a custom grain, not just the presets. I will not be diving in that deep in this review. See the manual for a good overview.

I moved on to testing out MatchGrade. I had a series of B-roll shots from a warehouse shoot that didn't have a good color match. Between two shots of the same subject, it swung from being a little on the reddish side to being blue-greenish. I started with a 3-Way Color Corrector on the reddish shot to get that to an acceptable starting point. Then I added the MatchGrade filter to the second shot, opened up the shot in the viewer so I could access the Filters tab and dragged the first shot from the timeline into the Source Well in the filter controls. I played with the options and ended up with a match that was much more appealing than what I'd been able to do with the 3-Way Color Corrector and the Color Balance filters previously.

Next, I tried out Kronos and MotionBlur. This is where my stock footage came in handy. I picked some fun underwater shots and some sports clips to use with the filters. The Kronos speed control filter is so versatile, it could be an entire review unto itself. I'm going to focus on the thing I find my clients requesting the most: "How about slo-mo?" On most clips, I found Kronos' slow motion to be smoother and more pleasing to the eye than the using the FCP built-in speed controls. I found leaving most of the filter parameters at the default positions, but changing the speed percentage to the desired rate and changing the Retime to "From Fields to Fields" generally gave me the best motion. I added a touch of blur using MotionBlur, and I found that adding an extra facet of smoothness helped sell the slow motion effect. On a couple shots, the filter's parameters need to be tweaked to get the best results. I had one shot of a boxer that was tricky to get smooth until I changed the Method to Frame and started working with the Vector Detail and Smoothness controls. After some tweaking to get the speed of the clip to work the way I wanted, I added a little bit of motion blur via the MotionBlur filter to make it look even better. I mostly left that at the defaults, as well, although I changed Retime Fields to From Field to Field.

DeFlicker is the most potentially shot saving of all the plug-ins, in my opinion. Flicker is the one of the hardest things to fix, and I've asked clients to throw out the shot because I didn't have a tool to fix it. I didn't have a shot on hand to test, so I asked The Foundry to supply me with a clip. DeFlicker is a processor-intensive filter, and getting a handle on which direction to tweak takes time. The flicker in the shot I had was not solved with the filter at the defaults. It took quite a bit of patience, and I admit the slowness of my G5 was largely to blame. I wasn't able to remove the flicker from that shot, but was in the before and after samples supplied by the Foundry. Perhaps if I had the opportunity to try it on a faster CPU, I might have been able to achieve the same results as in the sample.

FINAL THOUGHTS

As an editor, I have discovered that sometimes we have to omit shots because they are sub-par, or use shots that go against our over-hyper-perfectionist nature because the client really really wants or needs that shot. Having Furnace plug-ins in my toolbag is a welcome thing indeed!

Deb Eschweiler is a freelance editor based in Minneapolis/Saint Paul. She can be reached at:
www.debe-media.com or info@debe-media.com.