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December 2014
Issue: July 1, 2011

Review: CoreMelt's Lock & Load

By: TG Herrington

PRODUCT: CoreMelt Lock & Load

WEBSITE: http://www.coremelt.com/products/lock-and-load-x.html

PRICING: $149

Gear used while testing Lock & Load:

- Mac Pro 2 x 3.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 16Gb 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM

- Apple Cinema HD 30-inch Display

- AJA Kona video card

- FCP 7.0.3

In a few short weeks CoreMelt’s Lock & Load motion tracking and stabilization plug-in has become my go-to solution for complex tracking and stabilization needs.

I am not a “User’s Manual” kind of a guy, and for all of Lock & Load’s functionality and versatility, its intuitive UI is one of its strongest selling points. Within minutes of downloading I was tracking and stabilizing with ease. I’ve run it through the paces on five different projects, each with its own level of complexity and challenges... shot in various formats and under varying conditions. In each case, when called on, L&L stood up to the task. From car-mount shots to greenscreen elements/plates.

Being that most of my workflow is geared towards commercials, I’ve found myself leaning towards the Lock & Load X functions. Its two main features: motion tracking and stabilization.

When in Motion Tracking mode the Tracking Area function helps define the region you are interested in processing and makes quick work of analyzing and processing the selected region. To fine tune your tracking within the Tracking Area there are other parameters (FullFrame, Inside Rectangle, Outside Rectangle) that can be manipulated to help further define specific regions and more accurately track a clip... depending on the variables inherent within the shot. In most cases I found that the “Full Frame” function did the job.

When choosing the Stabilization mode you can select what kind of stabilization is best for the task at hand. Your choices are Lock Down and Smooth mode. Selecting the Lock Down feature removes camera movement and steadies the shot overall.

Selecting the Smooth feature has two options: Smooth, Single Shot and Smooth, Multi Shot. Smooth, Single Shot is perfect for stabilizing single clips. Selecting Smooth, Multi Shot enables auto-detect of cuts within clip sequences. Extremely helpful when confronted with a sequence of shaky clips in a complex timeline.

When stabilizing a shot, the software scales the image up and therefore adversely effects image quality. Quality loss can be minimized by changing the preset scale parameters to lessen the amount of the blow-up and the Zoom function can also be deployed to fill the margins at edges of frame at specific points within the course of the shot.

For longer format projects you're probably gonna want to go the Lock & Load Frames route — same features as L&LX but a bit slower. The trade off is that it can handle clips with speed changes without exporting and importing, and can handle timelines that are a bit more complex.

Either route you choose, you’ll find the functions powerful, fully customizable and easy to use.

I’ve found L&L to be extremely stable, nimble and highly customizable. As with any piece of software out there, it does have a few minor drawbacks: Clips with speed changes are problematic in L&LX; the software has a tendency to over-scale when stabilizing. But with each drawback there always seems to be a workaround. (Parameter changes... re-processing and then reimporting.)

L&L’s price point coupled with its power makes this plug-in an incredible value.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In my opinion, Lock & Load is the best motion tracking and stabilization out there for FCP and will become an indispensable weapon in your FCP arsenal. [Editor’s Note: At the end of June, CoreMelt’s marketing manager Ravian Budde, said this about the new FCP X: “We are currently looking at porting our products across to FCP X, but still waiting on a confirmation of a timeframe… depending on Apple and getting our products onto the App store.]

I’m looking forward to seeing what else the peeps over at CoreMelt have up their sleeves.

TG Herrington, M.P.E.G., is an editor at Cut + Run New York.