Media Final Cut Plugins
Review by Steve
of the Shadow Matte, a Masai warrior in Kenya. (left)
Media has been in business for sometime now having collections
of tracking and drawing plug-ins for Final Cut Pro as well as
others. This new collection comes to you as a collection of over
50 different video effect filters, many of which provide several
of the image correction, photographic and stylized effects found
in Photoshop only now applied to video as well. The Lyric Media
Final Cut Plug-ins have been separated into Special Effects,
Masked Effects and Mattes folders once installed on your system.
You may find that many of these filters are pretty much the same
as several filters you already have installed. However, Lyric
Media provides for greater controls in these updated versions,
which enable you to manipulate them by mattes or alpha-channels.
They are compatible with Final Cut Pro Version 4, HD and 5 as
well as Final Cut Express version 3 and HD on your Power PC,
G4, G5 and Intel Macs. With Final Cut Studio 2 soon to ship,
I have little doubt that they will be compatible with that as
The Mattes collection consists
of 15 different matte filters. These control the transparency
of different areas within your clips when layering clips as a
composite. With them Lyric provides you the tools you need to
adjust your mattes based on color, saturation and luminance levels
and the type of composite you are looking for.
Of the Mattes collection, the Lyric
Shadow Matte does a great job of producing mattes based upon
the dark or shadow areas in your clip. Controls for the shadow
roll off and threshold were simple to adjust or to invert.
With the Lyric Shadow Matte, clean lines and an appropriate composite.
With the Shadow Matte having subtracting from the existing alpha.
The Lyric Gradient Matte enables full controls of either a linear
or radial gradient with start and end points for the gradient
and full directionality.
Before Matte Creation and
After gradient is applied
The Polygon Matte has multiple uses allowing
you to draw several different shapes. The outlines can be fully
controls by rounding, feathering and adjusting the opacity. This
matte will not only enable you to composite a section of your
clip with another but to highlight a feature of the frame you
wish to point out.
Typical of all the
Lyric Filter controls, there is plenty of room
for adjustment without an overwhelming number of choices.
Using the Lyric Polygon
Matte, you can choose between a triangle, rectangle, pentagon,
hexagon and octagon.
allow me to highlight the vulture out for a quick snack.
The Lyric Grid matte, similar to other Grid mattes I have seen
provides for numerous rows and columns, fully adjustable height,
length and gap as well as a Fill Image/Clip well which is then
replicated throughout the grid.
Hummingbird at the
feeder gridded over lawn background.
Moving on to the Special Effects Folder
of Lyric Plug ins we are provided with a set of 30 different
filters focusing on photographic effects, stylizing and image
correction. Any of these may be controlled by alpha channels
or mattes, thus enabling you to target specific parts of an image.
One feature I appreciate was a simple slide control which was
a built in fader giving you full control over the extent of the
blending effect from the original source clip. I'd love to see
this feature on more plug-ins. The Lyric Special Effects is separated
into the 3 categories previously mentioned, Image Correction,
Photo Effects and Stylize Effects.
From the Special Effects folder the Lyric
Channel Mixer filter allows you to reassign any video channel
to another within the clip and can be used for creating any number
of interesting effects.
Switch and mix channels
for different color variations.
I used it to fix
a clip whose white balance was very off.
Also from the Special Effects folder, the Water Color 2 filter
was the most unique I have seen from a variety of water color
effects filters found elsewhere. There was more of a pronounced
edge with this filter and I liked the effect considerably.
The frame on the left
is bland and poorly focused but with the Water Color 2 filter,
it becomes much more pleasing and artful as can be seen in the
resulting same frame on the right. The Edge Detect filter, similar
to many I've seen, is a stylizing effect that extracts smooth,
variable-width edges within a video image. Unlike convolution-based
edge detectors within Final Cut that extract fixed width edges,
the Lyric Edge Detect filter combines 8 shifted copies of the
image in a blending tree to simulate a variable-size convolution
and extract an edge that is controlled by the shift amount.
Before filter application
(left). I like the depth I was able to achieve that I have not
found when using similar filters found elsewhere (right).
Found within the Image Correction folder are 7 individual filters,
contrast mask, fill light, high-pass luma, local contrast enhancement,
vibrance, s-curve and luma brightness and contrast. I haven't
played with all of them as yet but found the S-Curve filter to
be useful. It is used on low-dynamic range material to restore
contrast to the mid-ranges by mapping a narrow midtone range
of input levels to a broad range of output values using a transfer
curve that is S-shaped. This results in significantly more midtone
detail on otherwise flat scenes. It is controlled by a single
gain parameter with the higher the value producing a more pronounced
s-curve, negative values create an inverted s-curve which compresses
the midtones and stretches the highs and lows.
While the frame on the left
is decent, using the S-Curve filter crushed the blacks some,
strengthened the greens of the bush and provided a sharper contrast
Within the Photo Effects folder are 10 more filters; all useful.
The Lyric Bloom Filter was designed to create a spreading bloom
effect whose intensity is fully controllable. Parameters for
blur and speed are included.
A dark shot of Masai
warriors dancing around a campfire.
The Lyric Bloom filter created
a more dramatic effect
utilizing the rising smoke.
Now that you have been introduced to this unique package of plug-ins,
just where does it stand in the pantheon of third party filters
found in abundance? My bottom line is that, in many ways, it
has some of the most unique filters you can get; the Matte filters
should be of special interest to anyone using Alpha channels
and doing some heavy composite work. For many editors who have
been in the field for some time, you might already have several
similar filters which do a credible job, never the less, you'll
find that the Lyric Filters in this set offer more flexibility
in parameter choices than you already have. For the individual
who has not added many third party filters to their collection
of plug-ins, you won't regret purchasing this very inexpensive
set. The Lyric website provides excellent explanations of its
filters and controls, yet for the novice who may not yet understand
much of the editing jargon, learning how to use some of these
filters correctly might be challenge. The majority of filters
within this plug in collection are not "put them on the
clip and there you go" type of filters. They are sensitive
to adjustment, which is good, and most need to be really played
with to get the effect you are looking for. There are no tutorials
on site and I would, as I always do in my reviews, urge the folk
at Lyric to create some.