Tag Archives: Automatic Duck

Review: FxFactory’s AudioDenoise, EchoRemover, Xsend Motion

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.

CrumplePop EchoRemover
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.

AudioDenoise
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.

Xsend Motion
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.

Summing Up
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 bradybetzel@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff. Earlier this year, Brady was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Unforgettable Christmas Celebration.

 

Automatic Duck ships app that brings FCP X clips into Motion

During NAB 2016, we spoke to Automatic Duck co-founder Wes Plate about the upcoming release of Xsend Motion, which converts XML from Final Cut Pro X to a Motion 5 project, building a bridge between the two applications. The software, which costs $99, is now shipping, but if you buy it before June 8, it’s on sale for $79.

“We have been working on Xsend Motion for a long time, and while it was great to announce at NAB that it was coming, we’re thrilled to finally have it available,” says Plate. “The day after it shipped a customer wrote to me that Xsend Motion ‘really saved our bacon.’ Xsend Motion is already finding its audience.”

Xsend Motion, which reads XML exports, or is able to process projects directly from the Final Cut Pro X Share menu, is also able to translate clip transforms, speed changes, and many third party filters. It can be purchased through FxFactory.

Check out our interview with Wes about Xsend Motion during NAB.

Automatic Duck’s Wes Plate talks about building bridges

By Randi Altman

If you’ve worked in post production during the past 14 years, there is a very good chance you know Automatic Duck and its president, Wes Plate. Over their time in business, Wes and his father, Harry, have created a number of software tools designed to make different programs and formats work together… the ultimate facilitators.

In 2011, Automatic Duck licensed its technology to Adobe, and Wes joined them as head of its Prelude team. While Adobe had acquired the technological assets of Automatic Duck, it did not acquire Automatic Duck, the company.

Fast forward a few years and the Plates and Automatic Duck are back with new products. As you might expect, Automatic Duck Ximport AE and Automatic Duck Media Copy 4.0 are designed to make post pros’ lives easier. Ximport AE transfers entire timelines, including cuts, third-party effects and transitions from Final Cut Pro X to Adobe After Effects. Media Copy 4.0 uses AAF and XML to simplify copying and moving media files from any Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut Pro X or Avid Media Composer/Symphony project. Both products are being sold via Red Giant.

XimportAE-After Effects copy

XimportAE — After Effects

On the heels of this news, we reached out to Wes Plate, who, after working for Adobe for two years, is back at the family business.

When you joined Adobe, they bought your technology. How did that work with this AE plug-in?
We do have the ability to use some of what Adobe acquired from us, but we are also limited in some ways. We told them we had an idea for a product — translating Final Cut Pro X into After Effects, and they said, “Okay.” We used some of the After Effects code from the past, but we also had to add a whole bunch of new code for Final Cut Pro X. We are still really good working partners with Adobe and we could not have made this product without rewriting everything from scratch without their help or without their permission.

Why now, and why this?
After leaving Adobe at the start of 2014, I was trying to figure what was going to be next. At that same time, I had been hearing a lot of people on social media talking about how Final Cut Pro X had improved and become a great NLE, so I gave it a try. I really enjoy using FCP X as an editing tool, but while I am editing I want to take clips or a section of timeline and bring it in to After Effects… it’s how I work.

Harry and I were looking for a project, Final Cut Pro X is growing in the marketplace, and I need to get from Final Cut Pro X to After Effects if I am going to use it as an NLE. All of that together meant Automatic Duck should build a bridge from Final Cut Pro X to After Effects.

XimportAE — Final Cut Pro X copy

XimportAE-Final Cut Pro X

Before your plug-in, how were people getting from FCP X to After Effects?
When I started down this path, there was a free utility on the market that would translate a Final Cut Pro X XML into a file format called JavaScript; After Effects would then run that JavaScript to create a comp. I tried it but I couldn’t make it work, which gave us even more reason to jump into this. That particular tool is now in version two and available for purchase through the App Store, but we still feel like what we are creating makes much more sense. Another option is to use Intelligent Assistance’s XtoCC app to convert FCPX XML to FCP7 XML and then import that into After Effects. But that workflow is also not as complete as what Ximport AE can do.

Makes more sense how?
Our solution makes it super easy to get from Final Cut Pro X to After Effects. To get from Final Cut Pro X to After Effects, the first step is to export the XML, then switch to After Effects and import our new product, Automatic Duck Ximport AE. You can change some settings or change some options, but essentially all you have to do now is open the XML file and our plugin brings it directly to After Effects.

Red Giant is selling your new products. Can you explain the relationship?
There is an enormous amount of work that goes into selling a product. What we enjoy the most is making the product, interacting with users and making sure their problems are solved, but dealing with credit cards and that type of thing is less interesting to us and takes our attention away from what we want to do.

Our friend Stu Maschwitz, who designed Magic Bullet, and also Peder Norrby from Trapcode, have been very happy with their relationship with Red Giant, which is essentially publishing their products and doing the sales, marketing and support. Another benefit for us using Red Giant‘s infrastructure for products and distribution is we are now able to offer trial versions of Ximport AE and also Media Copy, our media copying utility.

Media Copy

Media Copy

As we look toward future product development, we’ll be evaluating FCPX as an editing platform to invest in and spend considerable time developing solutions for. The great thing about our partnership with Red Giant is that it gives us access to their expertise and resources. I can foresee opportunities to partner up on products that, all by ourselves, we might not be able to execute or have what we need to make some workflows and solutions possible. I’m excited about what we’ll be able to do both with Red Giant and opportunities that we see coming forward from the FCPX landscape.

Can you talk about Automatic Duck Classic and how that came to be?
After joining Adobe, Automatic Duck retained some products that we were allowed to sell, but we just didn’t have the time to properly support them. So instead we made the products available for free on our website. When we started to prepare for the relaunch and updated our website the download links for the free stuff went away. We didn’t realize people still needed those tools, and I kept seeing posts on social media asking where the links went. We realized that there was still a need for people to get projects between FCP7 and Avid. The old products that we used to give away for free will be coming back on the website at no cost.

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For more details on the products click here.

Automatic Duck is back and partnering with Red Giant

Red Giant is partnering with Automatic Duck to deliver two new products: Automatic Duck Ximport AE and Automatic Duck Media Copy 4.0. Both leverage Automatic Duck’s software for transferring projects between host applications and locations. Ximport AE transfers entire timelines, including cuts, third-party effects, transitions and more, from Final Cut Pro X to Adobe After Effects. Media Copy 4.0 uses AAF and XML to simplify copying and moving media files from any Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut Pro X or Avid Media Composer/Symphony project. Ximport AE and Media Copy 4.0 join the Red Giant family of software plug-ins for visual effects and motion graphics artists.

With Ximport AE, users can copy entire projects directly from Final Cut Pro X to After Effects without requiring conversion or XML processing. Effects created using third-party plugins such as those from Red Giant, as well as a number of Final Cut Pro X features including compound clips, transforms and retiming, can be transferred from FCP X to AE.

Designed for Final Cut Pro and Avid users, Media Copy 4.0 allows users to copy and move project media by reading the project’s AAF or XML export and copying referenced files to a chosen destination. Users can also generate HTML reports for a record of copied files, and they have the option to process individual project files or group them all for relocation.

Watch this space — interview with Automatic Duck’s president, Wes Plate, coming soon!