Instead of painstakingly white balancing your footage, you can also make it approximately right and let Xe8472 take care of the rest. Lemke Software’s FxFactory plug-in with the mysterious name Xe8472 is based on the colour constancy concept and claims to automatically correct the colour of your footage, but does it?
“Colour constancy is an example of subjective constancy and a feature of the human colour perception system which ensures that the perceived colour of objects remains relatively constant under varying illumination conditions. A green apple for instance looks green to us at midday, when the main illumination is white sunlight, and also at sunset, when the main illumination is red. This helps us identify objects.” 1
The FxFactory plug-in Xe8472 has only a few parameters to set — as you would expect from a system that does things all on its own. The plug-in can be set to work fast or focus on better results, which is slower. There’s a checkbox to have it use GPU acceleration. Other configuration options are set with the help of sliders: the strength of the algorithm, a contrast correction, a saturation setting, colour mood and its intensity, and brightness. With GPU acceleration the calculation is quite zippy so it’s best to leave that turned on.
The algorithm strength is set to 100% by default and in most cases that’s what it takes. Increasing contrast correction doesn’t work the way you’re used to. It actually opens up dark shadows and tunes down shadow areas that are too bright and washed out. The saturation and colour mood parameters don’t really belong to the realm of colour constancy. Hence, you can play with them to create a certain atmosphere — in this case you can only change the hue of the entire frame, not add a texture or grunge or anything like that. Brightness is exactly what you’d expect from it. It’s not like the contrast correction setting that seems to have some intelligence to it. It just makes the scene brighter.
Correcting colour with Xe8472: when does it work
I first tried out Xe8472 with correctly white balanced recordings from an older Sony 1080p camera. The Xe8472 plug-in does not dramatically change your footage. Even playing with the correction sliders results in only subtle changes. I consider that a huge plus, as making colour corrections isn’t the same as grading. The mood settings are nice, but I’d rather grade my footage with Magic Bullet Looks or another dedicated plug-in or app.
However, for colour correcting footage, Xe8472 is amazingly accurate and fast. When you change the settings, you can see the plug-in act with different adjustments on different areas of the scene.
I was very curious to know how Xe8472 would behave if I fed it a clip that was not white balanced at all. I went to a place where the orange and green tinted fluorescent lighting will give you an instant headache and shot some footage of objects with a GoPro HERO4 set to Protune Native (CamRAW).
I then ingested the clip in Final Cut Pro X and first corrected the white balance using Color Finale. That proved to be quite difficult because of the mixed hues of ugly orange/green. I got it very close to correct, but not 100%. When I subsequently turned on Xe8472, the clip was 100% correct without me interfering at all. But when I turned off my own almost-good corrections with Color Finale, Xe8472 was overwhelmed and only changed the colours so they looked a bit warmer. I couldn’t get the atrocious green/orange cast to disappear and render colours correctly with Xe8472 on its own.
Xe8472 is capable of correcting colours so they look the way we expect them to, but only if the footage to start with is more or less correctly white balanced. If that is the case, Xe8472 works incredibly well, even without lifting a finger in most cases. The “mood” slider is in my opinion more or less redundant. If you’re going to grade your footage, you’ll probably also want to add texture or grunge, or even light effects. Xe8472 does none of those things. It will, however, change the hue while keeping colour constancy in mind.
Xe8472 costs approx. €87.50.