May 27, 2014 by absolutemotion
After meeting them at NAB, the good people at FXHOME sent me a copy of Hitfilm 2 Ultimate to take a look at. After just a few hours of limited testing with the Mac version I have to say I’m very impressed.
Right from the start (and accessible directly from the app) you are presented with extensive tutorials and help files on the FXHOME website. They certainly want to make it easy for even novices to quickly get up to speed.
The editing side is quite capable, and I felt up to speed in just minutes. Not as much depth of course as Premiere Pro, but for your average cuts-dissolves-basic effects and color grading it makes a nice alternative to more expensive (or subscription based) packages. I threw multiple formats at it in one timeline and everything played back perfectly smooth, even with numerous effects applied. Keyboard commands were similar to FCP7/Premiere Pro, and can be customized to make things even more comfortable.
The editing interface is clean and uncluttered. Each part of the workspace is tab based, and like the Adobe interface you can rearrange tabs (viewer panels, effects controls, etc) and save custom workspaces as desired. Imported footage lives in the Project media panel, with items arranged by name or file type. You can also create subfolders to help keep things organized.
One feature I like is having a mini preview viewer located at the top of the project media panel. Any highlighted imported footage shows up here ready to preview or scrub though.
Regarding compositing, Hitfilm 2 also has an integrated compositor. If you’ve ever used After Effects you’ll feel right a home here. As on the editing side, it’s not as robust as AE but for layer based compositing and simple key framing of effects it appears to be pretty solid. It’s also fast– in my initial tests timelines seemed to playback in real time, even with lots of effects applied. Hitfilm 2 Ultimate also comes with a custom version of Mocha built in for 2D and 3D tracking, a nice bonus for a package in this price range.
Hitfilm 2 Ultimate includes a wide range of filters and effects, many of which come close or rival those from the “mainstream” collections like Genarts Sapphire or Boris Continuum. There is a wide selection of distortion tools, warps, blurs, generators, grunge and style effects, glows. lens flares and time based filters. The particle effects included are quite good, especially in the smoke and explosion areas. Controls and response are varied and fluid; experimenting with them was a lot of fun and led to some unexpected – and inspiring – results.
The effects collection is also sold separately for use in After Effects, where for me they have been fast and rock solid. I’m sure I’ll be using many of them in the future. I didn’t test if third party filters can be used in Hitfilm 2 as well, such as those from Red Giant or other vendors.
The integration of the compositing and editing apps is interesting, almost like a streamlined version of dynamic link. While many effects can be directly applied to a clip on the editing timeline, for some effects and deeper compositing you either designate a clip as a “Composite Clip” or create a new one from scratch. Double click on one of these and the interface switches over to the compositor (also accessible via tabs at the top of the workspace). When placed on the editing timeline, these clips are essentially nested comps, similar to the way Premiere Pro wraps an imported AE comp into a single clip.
Titling is easy as well using the basic title app included. The text generator is basically a composite clip with a text effect applied, with all the usual controls available including font, size, color, kerning, leading, justification, etc. You can create shapes as elements and apply effects directly to them, allowing for easy design of good looking lower thirds.
In my quick testing I didn’t find an integrated title safe generator, which seems like an oversight. Maybe it’s in there somewhere and I just missed it.
One big flaw I encountered is the inability to import animation codec quicktime movies with alpha channels. Seeing as how this has been a standard format for years (decades even!), I was shocked to find these clips unimportable. So any existing stock quicktime graphics I have with alpha channels need to be transcoded first to an image sequence for use in Hitfilm 2. Honestly this seems so odd that I’m almost inclined to think it’s an error on my part, but I’ll wait to hear from the guys at FXHOME to see what the story is.
At this point I haven’t spent enough time with the app to determine how well it holds up under real world conditions, but I’m optimistic it can deliver. Hitfilm 2 Ultimate is kind of like a stripped-down “production premium” suite, something no longer offered by Adobe. If your needs needs are straightforward (decent video editing tools and reasonable compositing and effects), this (along with an image editing app like Photoshop) might be all you need.