Review: SGO's Mamba FX 2.0
Issue: February 1, 2015

Review: SGO's Mamba FX 2.0


PRODUCT: Mamba FX 2.0

PRICE: $280 (free trial available)


- 3D LUT support
- vector-based paint
- powerful color corrector

Do you like to dance? Well, while Mamba may sound like a Cuban dance, Mamba FX 2.0 is actually a new product from SGO with some powerful new visual effects moves of its own. I just had to give it a whirl.

There is a bit of a warm up required before we hit the dance floor and it’s called SGOmConfig. It’s a companion app that sets-up the project default resolution and the render paths along with many other working parameters, like the auto-save interval.

Now that we’re warmed up, let’s get working! At first glance, the Mamba FX UI resembles other node-based compositors like Nuke and Shake. It has a tabbed interface across the bottom of the application, a flowgraph window to the left and the canvas to the right where you view the result of the composite. You can also set up a dual view across multiple monitors.

Rather than go into each area in-depth to explain how many of the basic functions work, I’ll share with you some of Mamba FX’s best moves. For learning the foundations of the product, I was deeply impressed with David Cox has a wealth of hands-on VFX experience and he uses his background to guide new users through the program. This step-by-step guide is enhanced by a free YouTube video of David working through a composite using Mamba FX. You can see it here:

So let our dance begin! A nice move from Mamba FX is 3D LUT support. I was able to create an Iridas LUT using the Arri LUT builder, change the extension from .cube to .itx, and load it to the correct folder where Mamba saw it straight away. Another nice move is OpenFX support. I loaded the demo of the NeatVideo Reduce Noise and it added a tab for the plug-in to the dashboard, the lower edge of the application. You can also use Boujou tracking data, as well as take data from the SynthEyes camera tracker.

Another great move is vector-based paint and a shape tracker, which is new in Version 2.0. Mamba FX also added OpenEXR support and a new node for breaking out the layers in the OpenEXR file layer route. With a nice shimmy, shimmy, shake, we’re heading down to the Keyframe Graph, which has more moves than Madonna! You can copy, paste, accordion and use expressions on your keyframes.

And if you’re looking for a partner, well Mamba can render to the native Mistika file format and use a Mistika render farm. You can also render to many other formats including EXR, DPX, AVI, and ProRes on the Mac, Linux and Windows.

Another smart move is reading the manual. What?!?! Yes! The manual is actually very helpful as it not only gives you the ranges for each parameter, it also includes a use and comments section that gives examples of using the program. For example, the section on the refract effect explains how to manipulate the alpha channel to better blend in drop shadows on irregular surfaces.

Saving the best dance for last is Mamba's color corrector. It can work with HDR images, and the color corrector is deep in the breadth of the toolset and wide in the fact that you can add multiple layers of correction, called vectors, inside of a single color correction node. You also have basic shapes and rotoshapes with point-by-point softness control.

There are a few awkward steps in my opinion, such has not having separate mask and tracking nodes. The masking and tracking are built into each node and you must copy and paste the tracking data from node to node.

In all, I’ve found Mamba FX to be a fast and fun dance partner with some really great first moves. Mamba FX 2.0 is available for Windows, Linux and Mac (Mountain Lion 10.8.5) and is fully compatible with SGO’s Mistika.