By Brady Betzel
I love plug-ins — Video CoPilot’s Element 3D, Red Giant’s Universe, Neat Video’s Noise Reduction and many more. There are some pros who like to pretend that they are too good for plug-ins or consider the use of plug-ins a crutch, but not this guy. I love them! Plug-ins make my job easier and more efficient.
Time is money and when you are doing something by hand that can be done faster by using a plug-in, you are wasting time and money — your client’s money and your time, which could be spent with family and friends.
I don’t always love the products I review, but I do love this one, so prepare yourself — I’m going to rave over Boris FX’s latest update to their BCC collection: Boris Continuum Complete v10. It even had an update to v10.01 last week, offering improved 4K handling, overall render speed improvements and — an important one for me —optimization of Avid project size when BCC AVX filters are applied.
Mocha Within Avid
The BCC v10 update is the biggest and most complete update to BCC that I have seen. I say that because in 2014 Boris FX acquired Imagineer Systems, the maker of the magical Mocha planar tracking software. When I first heard this news I almost jumped out of my skin, mainly because tracking inside of Avid’s Media Composer is lacking. And while Media Composer’s point tracker is appropriate for some circumstances, one thing it does not have is backwards tracking. Luckily for us Avid users, Mocha is now integrated into Avid via the BCC 10 highway… streamers and confetti should pop out of your computer after reading that sentence.
So what does Mocha mean for the everyday editor? Well, it allows for a much tighter tracker inside of Media Composer. Furthermore, if you use effects like Gaussian blur or the new BCC Beauty Studio, you can apply the Mocha tracking data inside of each effect in the effects editor. For example, if you are editing an interview featuring a person with less-than-perfect skin and the producer or director wants to fix that, you can… and pretty quickly. Yes, I know there are ways to do this for free using some sweet luminance mattes and maybe a slight blur on certain color channels, but, let’s be real, that might take hours, not to mention trying to track the facial movements, as well as erasing the teeth and eyes from the aforementioned stack of effects.
Once you apply Beauty Studio you can launch Mocha from within the effects editor inside of Media Composer, track the entire head shape with X Splines (or B Splines), track the eyes and possibly mouth to create your subtract (erase) layers, CTRL + Q or Command + Q on a Mac to quit Mocha, see your settings applied in Media Composer and, magically, you have a subject with smooth and appealing skin.
You should take that last paragraph with a little grain of salt, because while it is “easy” to accomplish this with the help of Mocha and BCC 10, there is a moderate learning curve, and sometimes there will be a large render time involved. My suggestion is to watch and read everything Mary Poplin does — she is on Twitter @MaryPoplin and on Imagineer System’s website with some excellent video tutorials. One tip, even if you think a certain video is too long or might not be exactly what you are looking to learn, Mary always finds a way to drop a bazillion tips into every video.
Another personal favorite tutorial creator is Kevin P. McAuliffe; he makes all sorts of great videos, but one I saw recently was how to easily make a scrolling credit bed in Media Composer with the help of the new BCC 10 Title Studio. You can also follow him on Twitter @KPMcAuliffe.
While BCC makes it fast and relatively easy to do things like key a greenscreen or make someone beautiful, it all comes at a price, and usually that price is rendering. I typically only render things I can’t view in realtime or really need to see play out in realtime, otherwise I will save my renders for when I am sleeping.
So what else is new and what is still great in BCC 10 besides the amazing Mocha integration you ask? I will quickly go over my favorites in the next few paragraphs.
Under the “Still Great” category is Chroma Key Studio. While this was released in BCC 9 I can’t say enough about it. If you’ve used SpectraMatte to death and can’t quite get a great key, you need to throw on BCC Chroma Key Studio, which is under the BCC Key and Blend heading. In the Effects Editor, change the view to source, sample the green and, usually, you are halfway home. I will dial in the density and Matte Cleanup settings first — think Clip Black and Clip White from Keylight inside of After Effects — then mess with the Light Wrap and Matte Choker settings until I can get it dialed in.
When I have a particularly poorly lit or uneven greenscreen behind the subject, I sometimes use the Pre-Key Cleanup to help even out the greenscreen color to sample from. I may even jump into my secondary color correctors in Symphony — isolate the green I want to smooth out, widen my input vector’s hue width to capture all of the offending greens I can, dial in a few other settings and dial my output vector to taste. From there you are usually good to go, but if you are still having trouble with motion blur or green creeping into those dreaded fingers waving, you can jump into BCC Image Restoration and apply BCC Noise Reduction on your base layer. Be careful though because this will add a tremendous amount of render time, and you will definitely need an overnight render.
Under the “What’s New” heading, I really love Boris FX’s BCC Remover located under Image Restoration; it’s basically a clone tool with the added ability to track using Mocha for your tracking and mattes. I use this constantly.
It’s as simple as watching a few Mary Poplin tutorials on how to use Mocha’s X or B splines to draw your masks. Then track, using the Uber key to adjust your track without adjusting your keyframes — or individually adjust your keyframes if you want — then quit, save out of Mocha and, finally, adjust your clone settings inside of Media Composer’s Effect Editor. You can choose from a few different fill types like auto-fill or clone. I have actually had success by just using BCC’s auto-fill with no additional adjustments necessary.
One thing that is not as obvious as I would like is that when you use Mocha and want to feather your mask, you need to twirl down Pixel Chooser Mask/Mocha to find it.
I also love the BCC Light Leaks and Video Glitch plug-ins. You can use these for transitions or just throw them over your footage to give an instant flare to your footage. If you’ve read my previous reviews, you know how much I love Rampant Design Tools. They offer some great high-quality tools, such as light leaks and grunge. If you are a light leak or grunge enthusiast and can’t find the right color or flow, then BCC 10’s Light Leaks or Video Glitch are for you. Immediately you can add the BCC Light Leaks effect (located in BCC Lights) or Video Glitch (under BCC Stylize), click on Show FX browser in the effect editor and sample different looks over the footage in your timeline.
Another warning here, while you can preview the presets over your footage in your timeline it does have to “cache,” so the first time your clip will play it will be slowly and with a stutter (think After Effects “realtime” rendering).
Share, Share, That’s Fair
A very cool thing in the new Boris FX Browser is the ability to view presets other people have made or sent you via email. This is cool, so stay with me. If you work in a networked editing environment, such as through an ISIS, then you most likely have a bunch of editors making all sorts of effects. If you’re an assistant editor, polishing editor, finishing editor, online editor or whatever title leads you to be in charge of a look of a show, the ability to share plug-ins and presets is critical.
BCC 10 has the ability to easily share and preview presets from different systems. In fact, you could have a folder of BCC presets on the ISIS that can either be copied locally or kept on the network drive to be shared by all. My suggestion would be to copy locally if you can and have someone update those presets on each system when needed, but what do I know? Anyway, you can find the presets on the system level under Program Files > Boris FX, Inc, BCC Presets 10 AVX.
The last plug-in I want to talk about was the already mentioned BCC Beauty Studio, located in BCC Image Restoration. Remember earlier when I mentioned the interview subject with less-than-perfect skin who could use a little touch up?
I especially like to use this in conjunction with Mocha to track facial movement and eliminate as much of the “beauty studio look” that I can by containing only the face or problem area. This plug-in does work with the presets, but again let’s be real, you should never accept a preset as the final version of your work — we can have the philosophical discussion of how a preset is not technically your work on Twitter if you want. Tweet me @allbetzroff.
Also, every person’s skin texture, scene lighting and even color temperature can change drastically between set-ups, so one preset might not work for another set-up. Basically, what I’m saying is you will need to learn this tool, and to do so I recommend searching through the tutorials and watching something like this. Do a little noodling and elevate your skills.
Over the years I’ve noticed that editors typically get to choose between two sets of plug-ins when working in Avid: GenArt’s Sapphire or Boris FX BCC — unless you are super lucky and get to have both. At this moment I really love what Boris FX has to offer, which is a high-end tracking solution, not to mention all the other features.
In overall value, it’s very hard to beat BCC 10 for Avid, Adobe, or any OFX-supported app like Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. (Currently, Boris FX BCC 9 is compatible with Resolve, but 10 is supposed to be released any day now).
The multi-host license — good for Adobe, Avid, FCP X and OFX supported platforms like Resolve and Sony’s Vegas Pro — will cost $1,995 for the full install package, and $695 for just the upgrade from v9. If you want to rent the multi-host version it will cost $595/year. The individual app licenses look like this:
Avid $1,695/Full – $595/Upgrade
Adobe $995/Full – $295/Upgrade
FCPX/Motion $695/Full – $195/Upgrade
OFX (Resolve) $695/Full
OFX (Sony) $695/Full — $195/Upgrade
It’s hard to cover Boris FX’s BCC 10 in just 1,000 words, but to sum up, I love it! So much so that I would recommend it to everyone out there working in Media Composer and Symphony.
Heck, I didn’t even cover the awesome feature of importing Maxon Cinema 4D models into the BCC Title Studio. Of course, you need to spend some time to figure out the intricacies of Mocha tracking as well as what each parameter does inside of the Chroma Key Studio, but luckily you have a great set of tutorials on the BorisFX.com website to get you up to speed.
If I could wish for one feature request, it would be the ability to easily take any Mocha work you did in one BCC plug-in, such as a Gaussian blur, and apply it to another, such as BCC Remover or BCC Composite. At the moment you need to export/copy the data from Mocha and load it in the plug-in you want to use it in. That solution works, but it would be nice to have a seamless way to move your tracking data.
Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood. Previously, he was editing The Real World at Bunim-Murray Productions. You can email Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter, @allbetzroff.