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 a 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.

Sony Vegas Pro 13 Review

Sony Vegas Pro 13 feels a lot like Vegas Pro 12 with some minor updates to the UI. It features a new proxy editing mode that could be useful for ENG style workflows, enhanced audio level monitoring and new collaboration features.

The number one thing we were looking for in Vegas Pro 13 is increased performance, stability and exploitation of multicore and GPU heavy systems for real time editing and faster rendering times. Sony makes no mention of any improvements to the fundamental Vegas engine. In our tests it seems to perform very much like Vegas Pro 12. Projects that experience hiccups in 12 performed just the same in Vegas 13.

Our favorite new feature of Vegas Pro 13 is the multi-tool pop up menu that is now located beneath the timeline. It’s a subtle change that’s implemented in a seamless way that feels instantly familiar and is very handy.  

The CALM loudness meters are a nice addition to Vegas Pro that adds a level of confidence when mastering assets for broadcast distribution. However, considering the Vegas pedigree as an audio platform from the beginning, this should be a rev upgrade to Vegas Pro 11 and 12 users anyway.

Project archiving is useful. Despite our best efforts in the past we always seem to be missing a file in our manually created archives. Again, should have been a rev upgrade.

Vegas Pro Connect seems like the product team was told it had to incorporate a mobile app somehow to make the platform more relevant. We think this feature is good intentioned but would require more work on the client side than necessary. A simple conversation to discuss the edit is faster and easier. We don’t think we’ll ever use this and it’s certainly not a reason to upgrade to Vegas Pro 13.   

Overall we’re unimpressed with Vegas Pro 13. The features we enjoy seem like revision rather than release updates. We’re disappointed because Vegas is still one of our favorite NLEs that we use on a regular basis. The feature set is extremely robust and it's still the most intutive NLE on the market.  In our view Sony missed a major opportunity here. Our advice would be to focus on exploiting workstation horsepower and provide the most versatile and stable NLE on the market. Internally the code name for Vegas 14 should be Kevlar.  The CALM meters, Archiving and Multitool menue are all nice additions but please, no more goofy iPad collaboration features.  

For more information and all the specs visit Sony Creative Software.

Convergent Design Odyssey7Q Review

The Odyssey7Q combines a high quality 7.7 OLED monitor with an SSD based recorder to allow the capture of high bit rate quality codecs such as ProRes, DNxHD, Sony FS700 Raw, Canonc500 4K Raw and other options available via pay firmware upgrades. We used it with the Sony FS700 to capture ProRes HQ at 220Mbps.

The file based workflow is all about flash memory. On our shoot we utilized a variety of flash memory. The Odyssey7Q requires Convergent's branded SSD. We also recorded the native FS700 files to an SD card inside the Sony, glad we did and more on that shortly. The DLSR and Sound Devices recorder used compact flash.

The OLED display on the Odyssey is very nice. It's large enough Before we go any further we have one work of advice for any file based acquisition day, redundancy. We recorded audio to both cameras and the Odyssey7Q as well as the Sound Devices Mixer. We recorded video to both cameras natively and Odyssey7Q.

Our shoot was a series of sit down interviews. Pretty straightforward. Once we were setup we let it rip and then it became more about data management. The Odyssey7Q recorded in chunks of 3.94GB for every 2:45 worth of roll. So after each interview we'd have about 8 files to assemble and cut. The 7D records in 3.99GB chunks for every 13:05. So a couple of files per interview and we'd interrupt the flow periodically to reslate.  With a couple of SSDs it's easy to keep rolling while transferring files.  We highly advise having a system with USB 3.0 to transfer the files and we're looking forward to Thunderbolt in the future.  After a full day of shooting on the two cameras plus redundant files we had 600GB of data to manage.      

The Odyssey7Q was easy to figure out and worked seamlessly for the most part. The 7.7 inch OLED makes for a good size touch screen. However, all is not sweetness and light. We encountered corrupted files for a portion of two of the interviews. Just flat out corrupt files. This is the gotcha in the file based workflow. When it goes bad it's just gone. It's not a few hits in an analog tape. The good news is we had the second camera and the native codec from the FS700 as a backup. However, for a field recorder that's approaching $3K in cost this is not acceptable. It's been years and years of SxS and P2 with and we've never lost a file to corruption. Devices like the Odyssey7Q need to be just as robust. And from our initial field test it appears they're not.

Our advice isn't to shy away from the Oddyssey7Q. This is where things are headed and we expect the folks at Convergent and industry as a whole to make these types of external recorder/displays as rock solid as P2 and SxS. For now remember our keyword for the day, redundancy. As you embrace new technologies that enable you to capture the most brilliant images possible, have a plan in place to capture at least an image, in case you happen to lose a few a long the way.

For more information and all the specs on the Odyssey 7Q visit Convergent Design. 

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