by Dr David Smith
This article started out as a review of Vegas pro 18. I planned to include an overview of Vegas POST, namely Vegas Effects and Vegas Image. Then I began a review of HitFilm Pro 15 and the further I delved into the story the more I became aware that this was a family of apps and plugins that were shared to a greater or lesser degree by HitFilm Pro, Vegas and a number of other popular video editing apps. So I thought I’d try and explain these relationships and show how useful they can be for your professional projects.
Let’s start with HitFilm Pro. I reviewed HitFilm Pro 15 back in August 2020 and was impressed by the huge variety of included plugins and by its ability to seamlessly integrate non-linear editing with 3D compositing, all on a single timeline.
HitFilm Pro is produced by FXHome and it includes more than 800 video FX and presets. When you look at the list of VFX you’ll see them usefully arranged into functional groups and that rang a bell of familiarity. I had seen that same hierarchy of FX in Vegas Effects. No surprises here, because the Vegas Effects and Vegas Image apps are both developed by FXHome in collaboration with Magix and Vegas Pro. Finally there is Ignite Pro 5, also from FXHome and which allows you to install almost all of the HitFilm and Vegas FX plugins directly into your NLE of choice, which in my case is Vegas Pro 18. All the major platforms are supported, including Premiere Pro, Da Vinci Resolve, Final Cut pro and so on.
So how does Ignite Pro work in Vegas Pro?
The answer is: very simply. Install the software and activate it and in your Video FX tab you’ll find no fewer than 174 new effects. The range is astonishing, and my first comment is that it is a real shame that these plugins appear as a big, long list, rather than being arranged in functional groups as they are in Vegas Effects and HitFilm Pro. You can reduce the confusion a little by clicking on the Third Party tab within Vegas FX but I hope FXHome can figure out a way to implement this functional grouping for those Vegas users who don’t have Vegas Effects (as part of Vegas POST).
That said, there are some useful plugins in this assortment. Years ago I used Ignite 3 and found their chromakey options gave the best results I’d seen. I had tried the chromakey modules in Vegas Pro and Boris Red, and the New Blue plugins but I just got better results in quite complex keying situations with the tools available in Ignite. The Matte Cleaners and Spill Removal were brilliant in getting a sharp key even when filmed against a green screen under less than optimal conditions.
Another favourite was the Ignite Pro Skin Retouch which was very simple to use and produced subtle and very flattering improvements in skin tone.
Of course, coming from FXHome, you know there’ll be all sorts of action possibilities and they are all there, from Blood Spatter to six versions of Lightswords, to Gunfire and Blood Spray. Bring on the horror!
A small number of effects that are featured in Hitfilm Pro and Vegas Effects did not appear as options within Vegas Pro 18. I checked with FXHome – which has been extremely responsive to my questions – and was directed to a comparison page which shows all of the effects available in each of the supported host editors. A couple of these effects really whet my appetite and although I can’t access them directly in Vegas Pro, I can easily use them in Vegas Effects, which is great.
One that is really useful is the Clone Stamp, located in the Video Clean-up folder within Vegas Effects.
Imagine you’ve shot a great hand-held interview in a room that unfortunately has a power point visible in the wall behind the subject. With the Clone Stamp you can sample some wall colour from near the power point and use this as a mask to cover the power point completely. Even if your camera moves around a bit, you can use motion tracking to simply and very accurately track the moving power point and remove it from your shot.
I found this process tricky to figure out on my own, so I looked up the relevant tutorial. Unfortunately, the tutor spoke so rapidly and moved the mouse pointer so fast that the tutorial was just about impossible to follow. In a separate article and video I will try and do a slower paced more intelligible tutorial to cover this useful repair tool. Can’t promise but I’ll do my darndest!
Two other plugins that are not available in Vegas Pro are the Audio Waveform and Audio Spectrum FX, located not in the Audio folder but in the Generate folder. These let you record what is essentially an oscilloscope image of your audio file as it plays. I’ve wanted a good version of a plugin that will do this for years and this one works really well. The Audio Spectrum does this differently, recording output level versus audio frequency and it also works beautifully.
FXHome has put a huge amount of work into developing first-rate professional software tools for video editors and 3D imaging. The tools work intuitively, have a comprehensive range of adjustments, and mesh seamlessly with other plugins in your NLE of choice.
In the case of Ignite Pro 5, I have a couple of minor quibbles, most notably with the frenetic pace of some of the tutorial videos, and also with the lack of a function-based folder structure for the Video FX in Vegas Pro. That’s probably due to some quirk in the way Vegas is built and it’s only really a problem because there are so many FX available.
One very positive consequence of the availability of essentially the same set of FXHome plugins in various applications – eg Vegas Pro, Vegas Effects and HitFilm pro – is that having learned how they work you can use them easily in any or all of these applications. That is a significant advantage compared to having to learn new user interfaces in each different application.
If you want to soup up the options available in your NLE, you can probably do no better than spending US$299 on Ignite Pro 5. Its plugins are powerful, stable, and really useful.
Price US$299 includes 12 months upgrades and tech support plus a 3-seat permanent license.