CoreMelt's PaintX Plugin Brings DIY VFX to FCP X
You don't need After Effects for the simple stuff anymore...
Anyone familiar with CoreMelt's body of work—from Chromatic (color grading) to SliceX (Masks) and TrackX (all of which utilize Academy Award-winning Mocha Tracking from Boris FX)—is going to be quite happy when they take a look at CoreMelt's latest plugin for FCP X: PaintX. No Film School was able to get a hold of an early copy, and let's just say it's certainly on the edge of being a gamechanger in terms of affordable, DIY visual effects natively inside Final Cut Pro.
As you open up the PaintX Editor in FCP X and begin playing around with it, you quickly start to realize that PaintX is an appropriate name. It could essentially be described as Photoshop for video. In fact, many of the tools, from the Brush to the Eraser to the Clone Tool, are seemingly straight out of many photo editing apps. They work just as effectively on video as they do on digital photos.
In total, there are 10 main tools in PaintX, which CoreMelt is billing as "tracked paint tools" for FCP X:
- Paint Color: paints a basic color on the image with a customizable brush-stroke.
- Change Color: similar to a hue vs. hue curve capability; changes one color to another.
- Blur: adds blur (faces, signs, etc.)
- Smear: smears the pixels in a given area.
- Sharpen: sharpens the pixels in a given area.
- Warp: stretches or "skews" the pixels in a given area.
- Clone: clones a designated portion of video over where you "paint"
- Add Noise: adds noise to the image
- Heal: essentially clones "inwards" from the immediately surrounding area
- Erase: erases previous brush-strokes; returns the image to its original state
In the below tutorial, I show off some of PaintX's abilities. Follow along as we draw paint strokes on the screen and track them to a moving character, blur the face of an actress throughout a shot, and clone out the top half of a light-pole on a city street.
After playing around with PaintX for just a few minutes, I was already able to execute such tasks as painting out unwanted electrical wires in an establishing shot, blurring out faces and logos in a shot (documentaries), adding pop to an actor's eyes, creating hand-drawn strokes onto my live action shot, and adding additional dirt and bruises to make-up done on set.
Since each of these effects utilize Mocha's tracking, you can utilize them not just for static shots but for shots with motion as well. Each of the other tools work quite seamlessly with the built-in Mocha tracking.
Now while PaintX may save you from having to send a few simple shots to VFX, it does have its limitations. If you want to try and incorporate it into your workflow to save on personnel and money in post, I would highly recommend planning any shots that require VFX work. This is something you would do with your VFX supervisor before a shoot. How you frame a shot, the camera movement, lighting, staging, and a slew of other factors go a long way in determining whether a VFX shot is going to be fairly simple to execute in post.
Up until very recently, if you wanted to do any sort of VFX (even seemingly simple things like tracking a blur onto a face or a license plate), it would have required a "round-trip" to a separate department. Perhaps most obviously with DaVinci Resolve's inclusion of a Fusion tab in the NLE, there has been a move towards reducing this round-tripping as much as possible. CoreMelt's PaintX is certainly a move in that direction for FCP X, an NLE which unfortunately is still underutilized and misunderstood in its abilities to deliver professional-grade work.
PaintX is currently available over at CoreMelt's website and they are running a special intro promo price of $69 until September 4th (at which point it will go up to $99). Promo prices are also being offered if you bundle it with their other Plugins: $119 for Chromatic + PaintX + LUTx Bundle (normally $149) and $279 for the Everything Bundle (normally $349).
Feel free to check out NFS's review of CoreMelt's Chromatic Color Grading plug-in to help you make any purchasing decisions.