HITFILM 4 PRO: A REVIEW

 

The recently released HITFILM 4 PRO is a significant upgrade for the relatively new NLE/Compositing system that lives in the world between what we all would like Premiere to be but behind the industry Cadillac of Autodesk Smoke. Now with upgraded 3D lighting and global ambient occlusion it now offers a bit of Element 3D right in you editor timeline as well.

  • Powerful combination of editor and compositor
  • Over 200 customizable visual effects
  • Includes HitFilm Ignite, a collection of over 140 plugins for Sony Vegas, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro X, Apple Motion, DaVinci Resolve, Sony Catalyst Edit.
  • Professional 3D titling with 3D Objects from Boris FX (worth $299)
  • Import, animate and render realistic 3D models
  • Physics-driven particle simulation
  • Professional green screen keying
  • Academy Award-winning planar tracking with mocha HitFilm from Imagineer Systems
  • 64-bit and GPU acceleration for maximum performance
  • 1 license can be installed on up to 3 computers

In previous versions, attempting any type of motion graphics only adverts was difficult. The limited Text Tools were not much help and was one of my original gripes of HITFILM 2's Kickstarter release. The native Text Tool is still basic, but the addition of Boris FX 3D objects makes it a bit easier to add some 3D text and logos to the shot without leaving the program, and the addition of animation controls makes animation more precise. If you want more 3D power and use other programs like Cinema 4D, then you'll be happy to see that HITFILM 4 PRO now supports Alembic 3D.

Create 3D text right in HITFILM 4 PRO with Boris FX 3D Objects.

Create 3D text right in HITFILM 4 PRO with Boris FX 3D Objects.

If you aren't interested in working in HITFILM's timeline you'll be happy to see that most of the effects appear in your effects panel of After Effects and Premiere via HITFILM IGNITE. Of course many of these effects are duplicates of ones you many already have but you will find that many of them are capable of doing the same job even better. With IGNITE, its like having VideoCopilot's Optical Flares bundled for free with it's built in light flare effects and “Red Giant-style” plugins like Cine-Style, Grunge Effects, and Keying Tools. You can really begin to see the cost savings. 

On a recent job, I had a chance to use HITFILM IGNITE plugins on some shots. I was able to get great results with the Pro Skin Retouch on some slightly sun burned faces without getting that "plastic" faces look that often comes with using these types of plugins. I also was able to use the Clone Stamp tool right in the Premiere timeline to clone out some dead pixel artifacts that were persistent throughout the footage. Other tools I found use in were the Camera Shake and Lens Dirt effects. I love the Lens Dirt effect! I was able to add it to what was an interior shot of a car collision that I created in Cinema 4D, and for the half second of screen time, the Lens Dirt really added a new level of realism to the shot during the impact.

I also found the Chroma Keyer to be very good at pulling good keys and suppressing green spill with minimum noise. I might actually believe it is better than Keylight in After Effects but I really need to use it more in a production setting to come to my final analysis.

HITFILM 4 PRO's Chroma Keyer successfully keyed some shots that Keylight had trouble with.

HITFILM 4 PRO's Chroma Keyer successfully keyed some shots that Keylight had trouble with.

I hope to find the opportunity soon to edit and composite a promo from start to finish in HITFILM 4 PRO to test it's full broadcast production capabilities. Until then, it's really just another host of plugins in my effects menu. Sadly, HITFILM 4 PRO still misses some key features to be taken seriously as a professional one stop post production tool. It’s lacks native support for such industry standard formats as RED .r3d and ArriRAW. Also, I tried importing some C300 footage into the bin but it would not import the complicated file structure this format saves to, which meant you would have to go in and import each MXF file individually. That’s just unacceptable.  By the way, I also tried to just drag the entire folder from the desktop, but that didn’t work either. Strangely, HITFILM offers Sony Catalyst for sale on their website which would probably seamlessly import a file structure like this.

HITFILM 4 PRO is modestly priced and subscription-free. While it probably won't be a workhouse for your shop or if you're an old dog, it's worth experimenting with on a quick job that won't require tried and true techniques that you rely on in After Effects. While it has room to grow, it already has a lot to offer. If you are new to the editing game, a vlogger, or you want to keep your investment costs low on software and plugins you should consider HITFILM 4 PRO.