Review: Is HitFilm Pro 12 Ready to Be an All-in-One NLE?
VFX powerhouse HitFilm Pro 12 is making progress towards single-app post workflows.
At this moment in time, post-production workflows are moving towards single-application solutions. FXHome’s HitFilm Pro 12 is one of those full-suite applications making collaboration in one single software possible. An all-in-one editor, compositor, and VFX suite with audio editing and color grading capabilities built in as well, HitFilm Pro 12 should be considered for your next motion graphics-heavy project. We take a look at several of its key features in this review.
As a precursor, the setup that I used while testing HitFilm Pro 12 was:
Standard 2015 15” Macbook Pro
- macOS Sierra 10.12.6
- 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 processor
- 16GB of RAM
- Intel Iris Pro 1536 MB
As a video editor, HitFilm Pro can feel a bit disconcerting when you attempt to use it for the first time, coming from a background with other NLEs. It’s likely that it would be easy for beginning editors to quickly understand the editing interface. However, some basic needs I have as a picture editor aren't available, like the ability to import keyboard settings rather than have to change each key function manually – and many of their default keyboard functions are different from other NLEs.
If you’re working on a very powerful system, HitFilm is capable of handling up to 8K resolution, however, on my setup, it had trouble playing an HD 1920x1080 ProRes LT clip without lag. Manually syncing with the software became difficult because playback was so slow. On my first attempt to use the "merge audio and video" function to automatically sync, the program crashed. The 2nd time, it just didn't work. I assume if I had timecode jammed audio and video, the merge option would work fine but the program wasn’t able to sync with just waveform. Despite these shortcomings, it is worth noting that the interface is easily customizable so you can set up your workspace as you wish.
Though I found the editor to be slow and somewhat unintuitive coming from a professional editing background using other NLEs, there were a few features I noticed that are fantastic and I haven’t seen before. For example, when selecting a clip to move on the timeline, red guidelines appear to show exactly the amount of space the clip will take up on a track before it is placed. This can be incredibly useful when navigating clips to other tracks in a busy timeline, or when moving audio and video separately and ensuring they’re kept in sync. Additionally, the viewer window shows timecode for exactly where in the timeline I’m moving my clip.
Tabbing over to the color interface, you have all of your scopes, as well as a number of ‘effects’ you can apply to a clip much like you would in Photoshop or After Effects. All of your fundamental grading tools are available, like your primary and secondary wheels, your curves, as well as a full menu of LUTS or “Film Looks” as it is called in the application.
There are even some more advanced color tools I tested out, like “Pro Skin Retouch,” which was an impressive tool for brightening and smoothing out flesh tones, and might be useful to smooth out skin tones in scenes with harsh lighting, or on chroma-keyed subjects if you have green screen footage.
In terms of effects and transitions in the edit tab, you are pretty limited. There isn’t many capabilities beyond the basic video and audio transitions, and many of the effects aren’t available in the edit tab without pre-composing your clip or sequence. What is especially frustrating about this is that once you’ve turned your clip into a composite shot and added effects to it, you can’t play back the effect at full (sometimes even half, depending on the effect) resolution without rendering it. Then, every time you make a change to the effect controls or add on anything else, you must re-render.
Now, I don’t consider myself a VFX or motion graphics artist, but it’s clear that the VFX capabilities of this software are powerful and much more impressive than the other tools, which is why it makes sense that FXHome seems to spend a lot of time making pretty cool VFX tutorials available on their Youtube channel. When I realized how powerful the motion graphics tools in this software could be, I thought it would be really great to be able to import an XML or an AAF so that I could bring in my already edited sequence, see it in a timeline, and then simply tab over to the compositing interface and do my VFX work there. However, there doesn’t yet seem to be a way to bring in an XML or AAF. On HitFilm forums, it seems that people have been asking for that feature for a while, so it’s clear there is a need and that it will improve the experience.
I played around with creating moving lower thirds since I have to use them often (see below the incredibly inappropriate neon green lower third) and found that it was quite easy to manipulate and keyframe plates and text I generated. Adjusting and keyframing position, scale, and rotation is simple with this tool, as is drawing and animating masks. Note that in order to work in this motion graphics interface and create my lower thirds, I did have to make my clip a composite shot in order to work in layers. If you’re a picture editor this may not be intuitive, but is a common workflow for other motion graphics software.
If you’re working on a motion graphics or VFX-heavy project, give it a look, but it’s not quite ready as an editing tool yet.
Tech Specs: HitFilm Pro 12
- Mac and PC compatible
- Processor: Intel Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 or AMD equivalent.
- RAM: 4GB (8 GB Recommended)
- Graphics card:
- NVIDIA GeForce 400 Series (2010)
- AMD Radeon HD 6000 Series (2010)
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 (GT2) (2012)
- Video memory 1 GB minimum (2GB or more required for 4K UHD.)
- Price: $299.00
- What you get with your download:
- 12 months of free updates and support
- No subscription
If you want to learn more about HitFilm Pro 12, head on over to FX Home.