By Brady Betzel
Over the last few years, I’ve really enjoyed working on Windows-based PCs , but some of the drawbacks are the inability to use FCP X, Motion and any of their plug-ins. Recently, I opened my MacBook Pro once again because I found three plug-ins from FxFactory’s partners Automatic Duck and CrumplePop that I really wanted to check out inside of FCP X: AudioDenoise, EchoRemover and Xsend Motion. I’ve previously reviewed FxFactory plug-ins such as Nodes 2 before, and they are pretty incredible.
FxFactory is a Mac OS-only plug-in app that manages all of FxFactory’s plug-ins. You can buy, update, install, read info and even watch tutorials inside of their app! The FxFactory app is actually a very well-organized place to centrally locate all of your FxFactory plug-ins, as well as learn what each of them do without much legwork. There are a few tabs inside, including one that shows all of your purchased plug-ins, so, if like me, you forget about some of your plug-ins you can check them out in one page.
First up is CrumplePop EchoRemover, an audio plug-in that sells for $99 and, like its name implies, it removes echo from your audio. If you’ve worked with Red Giant’s Universe plug-in, you’ll want to check out CrumplePop.
EchoRemover has a very simple approach with minimal input needed to do its magic in either FCP X or Adobe Premiere as long as they are on the Mac OS. It has three options to fine-tune the echo removal: Strength, Release and Bass Reduction. Strength covers how aggressively the echo is removed (think of it as opacity if you are a video person); Release describes how fast the cutoff is at the end of words or sounds; and Bass Reduction can help get rid of extra bass that might be present.
To test it out I used a clip I recorded using the Rode VideoMic Go along with the Rode SC4 TRS to TRRS converter with help from my iOgrapher. I figured the iPhone 6 will probably be the lowest common denominator with audio recording, and the reality is a lot of television shows use the iPhone as a quick way to get an emergency soundbyte into an edit. You can check out my test clips on my YouTube page where I placed the unaffected audio before the audio with EchoRemover and AudioDenoise were applied.
I recorded a short clip in my garage to allow for as much echo and background noise as possible. I was able to get a good amount of echo when I stood next to my metal garage door. Once inside of FCP X, I dragged the clip to a new timeline and applied EchoRemover straight away. Now you’Il need to remember that this plug-in is made to be “drag and drop,” meaning you won’t really need to make any adjustments (although small tweaks are possible). I was very impressed with the result of the echo removal. I dropped it on and didn’t touch the parameters at all.
I probably should have touched the Release and Strength a little, but for this example I wanted to leave it — straight out of the FxFactory/CrumplePop box. I guess I could ask for more parameters to adjust, but I really love the simplicity of these plug-ins. As a video editor it lets me concentrate on the story and less on the awful technical difficulties that can happen.
Up next is CrumplePop’s AudioDenoise, which sells for $99. As its name implies, its goal is to remove background noise from your audio. AudioDenoise works in Adobe Premiere as well as FCP X, but let’s stick with FCP X for the moment.
AudioDenoise is found under the CrumplePop plug-in heading and is as simple as parking your playhead over the section that contains a good sample of the background noise you are looking to eliminate — although I tested it I through AudioDenoise without any regard for what audio was playing and it worked.
You can then go into the Effects panel and adjust the Strength and Profile in the Effects tab of FCP X. Much like EchoRemover, AudioDenoise is a drag and drop plug-in. I tested the AudioDenoise plug-in by recording a clip in my garage like before, but this time with as much background noise as possible (without waking up the kids), I started our dryer and began talking. You can listen to my demo on YouTube (it is after the EchoRemover demo). Just like EchoRemover, AudioDenoise worked great and without any fiddling of the effect parameters. I was thoroughly impressed.
Last, but not least in this FxFactory FCP X-focused review, is Xsend Motion. If you’ve ever heard of Automatic Duck (if you are over 25 years old you probably had to use it when getting yourself out of some sticky FCP 7 to Avid Media Composer circumstances that some crazy person put you in) then you probably already trust this plug-in, because the creators of Automatic Duck created Xsend Motion.
Simply, for $99 Xsend Motion converts your FCP X timeline into a Motion project, complete with some simple effects like position, scale, blending modes and a few third party plug-ins — you can find a more detailed list of third-party compatible plug-ins here. Think of it like a fancy AAF transfer engine or more like how Premiere can send clips to Adobe After Effects from the timeline.
From FCP X you can either send your entire timeline or a section over to Motion. For the entire timeline you will go to the Share Project menu and click Xsend Motion. This will open up the Xsend Motion App where you can tell Xsend Motion where to place the FCP XML, whether or not to create layer groups and where to save the Motion project that you will be creating. From there, Xsend Motion will launch your new project inside of Motion to be edited. If you only want to send a certain section of your timeline to Motion, you will need to create a compound clip (think of a submaster, if you are familiar with Avid Media Composer). Click the newly created compound clip and select File > Export XML. You will then open that XML inside of Xsend Motion, select your settings and click Continue — much like the previous way of sending the entire timeline to Motion.
Once you have made your magic motion graphics inside of Motion you will most likely need to get this back into FCP X. You have two options: export your new Motion project as an FCP X preset/template/generator or export a QuickTime for use in FCP X. My advice is to export a QuickTime as opposed to an FCP X preset/generator as it won’t require re-rendering, but you will need to decide this on a case-by-case basis.
In the end, I was really impressed with CrumplePop’s EchoRemover, AudioDenoise and Xsend Motion. At $99 a piece, some might consider AudioDenoise and EchoRemover a little expensive, but if you value your time and ability to improve your audio production quickly and easily, then $99 is a great price. They really give the editor the ability to focus on the content of the edit rather than fixing subpar audio recording.
Xsend Motion furthers the ability to focus on the content of your edit by letting you send multiple layers of video to Motion from FCP X without breaking each layer into separate QuickTimes, this plug-in seems so necessary it’s a wonder why it isn’t already in FCP X!
Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff. Earlier this year, Brady was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Unforgettable Christmas Celebration.