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Effects Filters for Editors: CoreMelt SliceX Extends the Functionality of FCP X

The structure of Apple’s Final Cut Pro X has brought many new and innovative plug-ins to market that extend the power of the application. One such plug-in is SliceX from CoreMelt.

CoreMelt SliceX is powered by Mocha tracking for 2D plane-based alignment of masks with objects as they move through the frame.

CoreMelt developer Roger Bolton is a visual effects compositor who has been making FCP, Apple Motion and Adobe After Effects plug-ins that fill the needs he sees coming from a VFX background. SliceX was originally developed as a mask creation filter for FCP X, which has no built-in custom masking tools. The latest version of SliceX has been improved to add keyframes to the effects parameters. It now also sports a built-in 2D planar tracker that uses Mocha technology licensed from Imagineer Systems.

SliceX is a set of six effects filters for Final Cut Pro X consisting of shape masks for blurs, color correction, depth of field, object removal (cloning), vignettes and layer shapes. Each shape mask has a different set of parameters depending on the design of that filter—blur settings versus color correction sliders, for example. You can apply a filter on a single clip, or you can stack clips vertically and apply a filter to a higher clip to composite these clips together, enabled by the masks you have created. Each filter includes a common set of on-screen drawing tools for the mask shapes, as well as the Mocha tracking controls. Masks can be adjusted using control points with Bezier handles and can be moved, scaled and rotated, and edge softness can be adjusted.

SliceX includes a series of filters that can be applied within a clip or to mask a portion of a clip so it can be composited over a lower layer.

With the exception of Boris Continuum Complete effects, having built-in tracking is unique in a filter; adding the Mocha tracker elevates the level of effects work you can do inside FCP X.

Most trackers are point trackers, which require you to identify one to four consistent, high-contrast points within an image for the tracker to follow. The Mocha tracker is a planer tracker, which means it automatically calculates tracking points based on a wider surface area of flat planes detected in the image. When you use Mocha tracking in Adobe After Effects, for instance, the clip is sent out to the separate Mocha tracking application, which creates the tracking data. This data is then used to adjust scale, position and rotation information within After Effects’ transform tab.

These extra steps are eliminated with SliceX. In keeping with the general FCP X philosophy of hiding advanced technology under the hood, SliceX features a simple floating heads-up panel for Mocha and the drawing tools. Click the track arrow in the Mocha control panel to track forward or backward from the point at which you are parked and the mask is adjusted based on that track. Tracks can be set for either “perspective” or “translation (position)/scale/rotation.”

SliceX color correction mask

The tracker runs slower than real time while it analyzes the shot, though this pass is relatively speedy as trackers go. Once the tracking analysis is complete, FCP X will apply and run the effect in real time without rendering.

In addition to the Mocha control panel, there’s a new mask keyframe control panel in SliceX. If you change the mask points within a clip, this tool automatically adds keyframes at every point at which adjustments have been made. You can now step through or delete these keyframes, which is a separate function from the standard FCP X keyframe controls available within the effects Inspector window.

CoreMelt’s SliceX adds tremendous functionality to FCP X. You can use the effects to track and blur faces or act like tracked color correction nodes in Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. The tracking is as simple and foolproof as it comes. Object removal is a great fix-it tool. Have an actress with a skin blemish on her cheek? Simply add the mask and offset the skin area. Track it and voilà, the blemish is gone.

CoreMelt recently expanded its partnership with Imagineer Systems by adding TrackX, a new Mocha-powered product. TrackX consists of three plug-ins: Simple Tracker, Track Layer and Track Text. These empower the FCP X editor to track graphics, text and surface mapping without leaving the application. The combination of SliceX and TrackX are a must-have set of tools for the serious editor. They provide unrivaled professional results so painlessly that you’ll be asking why every NLE doesn’t do the same.  

Product:CoreMelt SliceX Powered by Mocha

Pros: Built-in, easy and reliable planar tracking. Task-based filters to handle common masking needs.
Cons: Not fully implemented in Motion 5.
Bottom Line: Adds an important function that extends the power of FCP X.
MSRP: $149