Roxio once again has upgraded their optical media burning app for the Mac, Toast, and added some nifty and useful features in version 17. Obsolete, I hear you say? Not in a million years, at least not when you’re using M-Discs to record your valuable data. Toast 17 is a 64-bit app and it heavily focuses on what still is a booming market: video.
Currently available for Final Cut Pro X, ColorSynth is an elaborate pre-wired network of colour processing nodes. The colour grading tool which is based on Final Cut Pro X’s Effect and Title Generator paradigm has more than 60 items arranged in an 8-layer stack with several sublayers. ColorSynth is touted as having all the features and the power of Da Vinci Resolve and FilmLight’s Baselight while the interface should be simpler than the one that comes with those tools.
iZotope’s VocalSynth is a plug-in that helps you improve vocal productions, but you can just as well use it to get Dr. Who’s Daleks sound a bit more human. Of course, you can also use it to create a signature sound like Cher’s and in tandem with the Neutron plug-in’s Visual Mixer, you can create sounds that are truly unique.
A light meter is an essential tool for serious photographers and filmmakers. The most useful ones not only measure the level of light and translate it into an f-stop, exposure time or ISO value, but also tell you colour characteristics. They will also measure the bursts of light emitted by a strobe or a speed-light. Light meter apps that integrate with a hardware add-on for your iOS or Android device are potentially as accurate as the most expensive light meters and just as flexible and feature-complete. In this category, about a year ago, the Lumu Power was released and it did not disappoint. Now, only a month or so ago, Illuminati Instruments released its Illuminati Light Meter and that one is a real winner.
Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as Affinity Designer and Photo, allow you to create patterns that you can use and reuse as backgrounds, desktop or real-world wallpaper, etc. They all require you to start from a vector or bitmap image such as a drawing or photograph and then work out how to make it seamlessly repeating. That’s not too easy, to say the least, but Patternodes has found a simpler, more user-friendly way to do it.
To create composites, you need mattes. In Final Cut Pro X, you can create simple mattes out-of-the-box, but for anything more complex than a box or ball shape you really need a bit more power. Lots of power and controls come with Hawaiki Keyer. I reviewed version 3 a while ago and although I’m late in the process – version 4 has been out for some time now – I found version 4 worth the trouble of going through this must-have plug-in all over again.
Sometimes you come across a product that you didn’t know you needed until you see it, try it and are amazed you never thought of it before. ScreenFloat is such a utility, available for macOS only. It’s compatible with High Sierra and you get a 15-day trial period without the watermark nonsense some other vendors insist on.
FxFactory sells Crumplepop’s SplitScreen Pro, a Final Cut Pro X and Premiere Pro plug-in that enables split screen effects without the headaches. After having installed SplitScreen Pro in my Final Cut Pro X effects collection, it became clear Crumplepop’s split screen generator makes complex effects really simple.
Cactus, the company that gave us the brand-independent wireless triggering system with HSS capabilities, has just recently announced the RQ250, a palm-sized, bare-bulb wireless mono-light that supports wireless TTL/HSS. It is a fully featured light in a compact body.
OWC’s portable drive, the Envoy Pro, originally came in a USB 3 version, but with the push for ever higher throughput speeds required for 4K, HDR and 8K video shooting and streaming, the company has introduced another, new 300g lightweight Envoy Pro EX that’s been equipped with a captive Thunderbolt 3 cable. The Thunderbolt 3 Envoy Pro EX actually is a series of devices, all equipped with Thunderbolt 3, but split up in the Envoy Pro EX series and the Envoy Pro EX (VE) series, which is even faster and has bigger capacities.