Boris FX BCC 9 Review 2014

If you buy only 1 VFX package for your NLE this year we highly recommend Boris Continuum Complete 9 or BCC 9. BCC 9 is available for all major NLEs and it’s packed with goodness to feed your creative mojo. BCC 9 for Sony Vegas Pro has over 200+ filters is easier to use than BCC 8 and includes CUDA and Open CL acceleration. We enjoyed very good performance in our workstation using the Quadro K4200.

We reviewed BCC 8 a couple of years ago so this will be a shorter review but one of the things that bogged us down in BCC 8 was the ability to effectively browse VFX. The FX Browser in BCC 9 is a welcome addition to the suite that makes it much easier to play and test effects. Now we can see previews of VFX over moving video. This is a much faster way to preview FX before we drop them on the timeline and encourages more experimentation which is critical with such a vast and powerful suite.

Just like BCC 8, BCC 9 requires lots of discovery and experimentation to appreciate the power of this suite. A review like this can only scratch the surface. Luckily Boris provides 2,500+ presets to help jump start your creativity. Follow Boris FX on social media and you’ll be treated to some random freebies as well. For example, we grabbed the fireworks preset and whipped up some sound design to make a 4th of July message for our facebook page. It took just a few minutes and added a little something extra to a static message.

We used some Beat Reactor driven lighting effects to bring the open to life in this recruiting video for Houzz.

Plus there are countless subtle fixes we use the filters for. For example, we'll often use film process and play with the dynamic range or go for a low contrast look like we did in this special feature on this incredible tree house in Texas. We wanted more a timeless look and BCC 8/9 helped us get it.

Having this suite in post makes us want to shoot more in 4k S-log and experiment in post versus trying to get the perfect look in the field too.

There’s more to love in BCC 9 including transitions, image restoration, keying, compositing, lens correction (saving some GoPro footage as we type), and the list goes on and on.  John Rafrano put together a nice set of tutorials on BCC 9 for Sony Vegas here so you can a lot of these effects in action.

So if you’re in the market for VFX for your NLE we highly recommend downloading BCC 9. You’ll barely scratch the surface of this powerful suite during the trial but you’ll quickly learn just how powerful this package is.

Visit Boris FX for more information and to grab a trial version of BCC 9.

HP Z230 Workstation Review

The HP Z230 is a single CPU workstation that looks similar to other workstations in the Z family but is much smaller and less expandable. It's quiet and can fit into tighter spaces. The Z230 has an aesthetically pleasing facade but flimsy case that makes it feel like a cheap PC clone. We were expecting a much more substantial feel even in the smaller form factor. In fact, most of the noise that emanates from the Z230 is a low frequency hum of the cheap metal case.

Our test unit featured a 3.4 Ghz i7-4770, 8GB DDR3 RAM, Intel 4600 graphics, 1TB Seagate 7200 HDD and Win 7 pro. Out of the box we found it severely handicapped and immediately upgraded it with a SanDisk Extreme SSD and Quadro card plus a Velociraptor for data. We could easily add two in RAID 0 for even better performance or even go all SSD. The HP Z230 makes it east with one 2.5 bay for an SSD and two 3.5 bays for HDDs. Add a Thunderbolt 2 card and you have even more storage options.

It's kind of silly to sell anything as a workstation for creative professionals that has a hard drive for the OS and program data. After our upgrade the performance was much better in our NLEs and other creative programs.

Like other HP workstations, upgrading the Z230 is very easy. No tools are required and you can be in and out of the case with cards and drives installed in just a couple of minutes. It's tight but there's enough room for a full length video card. There's also a PCI slot to support any legacy products or audio cards you might have. For example our Lynx Two studio card is PCI based and it's still our favorite for laying down tracks.

The HP Z230 is a decent entry level workstation in a small package. It's quiet, performs well and is easy to upgrade. We're disappointed in the cheap feeling case but like the overall design and ease of use. For situations where the budget is tight but a 3 year warranty is attractive, the Z230 makes sense. 

Visit HP for more information and all the specs.

Logitech Harmony 650 Remote Review

The Logitech Harmony 650 Universal remote is super easy to program and works great but is a bit underwhelming ergonomically. Ironically, the remote resembles a unit that Comcast issues with its set top box but doesn't feel as good in the hand to operate. There's too many small buttons which makes it difficult to memorize favorites based on feel. That's disappointing for a $79 retail product.

The Logitech 650 Remote could not be any easier to setup. Download the software, enter the model numbers of the devices you want to control, customize the buttons to your liking and hit the synch button. Done.  Our only complaint here is Logitech's user survey kept popping up. Once would be okay. Every time we run the app is obnoxious.

In use the Harmony 650 works really well. It has multiple one touch buttons near the top of the remote that trigger typical TV activities and of course all of these can be customized to have all your devices do any sort of electronic dance you want. Very easy, very cool.

One of the most important features is the ability to control smart TVs such as Samsung and others. Essentially, these type of smart viewing devices offer deeper menus and the access to online services such as Pandora, Netflix, Hulu and also any personal NAS services you may have in the house. Again, the Harmony 650 worked without any hiccups.

The Harmony 650 retails for $79. We think the software and ease of programming help to justify the cost but would like to see better physical buttons and overall feel in the hand.

Visit Logitech for more information and to check out all the features. 

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