Using Hitfilm for VFX with FCP X ?

lbabbott
lbabbott Website User Posts: 4 Just Starting Out*

I primarily edit in FCP X and have occasionally needed simple effects shots (greenscreen, text overlays, tracking, comps with 2-3 layers) and have never liked working with Apple Motion. I've been looking at alternatives such as AE, Blackmagic Fusion, Natron, and today I discovered HitFilm Express--which seems very promising.

Is it possible to import footage/scenes from FCP X into Hitfilm for VFX work and then back into FCP X? Or do you have to do all your editing in Hitfilm as well?

Comments

  • GrayMotion
    GrayMotion Website User Posts: 1,584 Enthusiast

    Is it possible to import footage/scenes from FCP X into Hitfilm for VFX work and then back into FCP X

    No, not possible -

    But FYI- Hitfilm VFX Effects are available for FCPX in the form of the Ignite plugin.

    https://fxhome.com/product/ignite-pro

    For tracking check out mocha tracking CoreMelt SliceX - free for FCPX -

    https://coremelt.com/products/slicex-free

  • lbabbott
    lbabbott Website User Posts: 4 Just Starting Out*
    Thanks for the heads up -- I'll look into both!
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,806 Ambassador
    edited July 5

    @GrayMotion not strictly true - read on.

    @lbabbott Hitfilm PRO 16+ allows for AAF import and export, so, in Pro, you can (technically) import/export an EDL between FCPX and Hitfilm Pro.

    That said, all the EDL interchange formats - XML, AAF, Grass Valley, etc, are very limited on what can moved between programs. In practice you can transfer over audio, video and stills media, CUTS ONLY, no VFX/masking, and no "nested procedural media" (Ae Precomps, Hitfilm Comp Shots and other nested timelines). Why? Different abilities of the different programs. You can't transfer (for example) something using Hitfilm's Atomic Particles to FCPX because FCPX doesn't have an Atomic Particles effect. Track level FCPX effects cannot transfer to Hitfilm because Hitfilm does not support track level effects.

    The only way to transfer between FCPX and Hitfilm without losing data would be if Hitfilm and FCPX had identical features and capabilities - at which point they'd be the same program.

    Somewhat of a moot point because EXPRESS doesn't support AAF.

    Anyways, for FCPX/Hitfilm workflow you most likely just need to do your main edits in FCPX, go into Hitfilm to build the VFX sequence FCPX can't handle, render ProRes from Hitfilm and import the render to FCPX.

    Bear in mind this is typical workflow across the industry. All the artists who work on TV shows/films using software like 3DS MAX, Houdini, et al aren't editing in those packages. They're rendering from that software, usually using Ae or Nuke to adjust the composite, rendering again and passing that to a Premiere, Avid or Resolve editor for sequence assembly. Final audio is most likely assembled in a DAW like ProTools, renderer from the DAW and brought back to the video editor for assembly. Multi software use is common.

    Even in the Hitfilm world, lots of us use multiple programs - Gray Motion even uses Apple Motion alongside his FCPX/Hitfilm combo, along with Blender and iClone. I'll use software like Imerge, Affinity Photo, PDHowler, Blender and Vegas Pro alongside Hitfilm. In my case Vegas is my main editor - while Hitfilm can do VFX in its sleep that would be impossible in Vegas (without other expensive add ons), Vegas is a better editor for assembling a program and mixing audio.

    If transferring between editors is important, try looking at Blackmagic Resolve. Resolve also does AAF import/export, but, as already stated, the AAF only transfers cuts of media files. You'll lose a lot of info.

    Heck, there are also Hitfilm users who move between Resolve and Hitfilm.

    It's less about finding the software that does "absolutely everything" (which doesn't exist) than finding the software that does the thing you need it to do, when you need it to do it and Hitfilm Express can be a great tool to do complex animations/effects unwieldy in FCPX to render and reimport to FCPX.

  • GrayMotion
    GrayMotion Website User Posts: 1,584 Enthusiast

    @Triem23 I should have thrown the word “entirely” in my comment then. I wasn’t completely aware of the workflow. Thanks for the correction.

    As for my suggestion on using Ignite- I stand by it. A great addition to FCPX. Although I understand a lot of folks want free I’m not one of those people. If there is a great product out there such as Ignite I would always recommend the outstanding product over a free option.

  • lbabbott
    lbabbott Website User Posts: 4 Just Starting Out*
    @Triem23 that all seems to make sense. As I said, I'm not doing complex work. It's usually something along the lines of assembling my cut in FCP X and having two or three shots/sequences that need VFX. If I can export those shots (with no VFX) from FCP X, import them into HitFilm, then export the finished comps so they can be assembled into my cut in FCP X, I'm good. The addition of the Ignite plugin seems like another approach worth looking into.
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,806 Ambassador

    @GrayMotion well, the AAF import/export *is* brand new to the software. 😊

    @lbabbott Ignite is a good way to add a lot of Hitfilm's effects to FCPX. However, I don't think FCPX has any kind of 3D workspace (it's been a long time since I used it). So, Ignite can add a lot of effects to FCPX, but, if you're trying any kind of 3D or 2.5D animation, I don't think it will help - Greg - Graymotion - can better answer that.

    Let's talk AAF for a minute. While it's true that AAF only transfers media cuts between programs, the purpose of the transfer isn't to move a near complete edit to another program, but to facilitate doing specific shots in the other program.

    So you have a scene (any scene), let's say about a minute long, where most of it is a straight edit. Perhaps there are three shots - maybe a total of 10 seconds or so - that need heavy VFX work.

    The AAF transfer allows you to move a cuts only version from FCPX to Hitfilm? Great. That's really all you need. The three clips that get the heavy VFX are already isolated on the Timeline, ready to add to a Comp without either having to find the exact section of the original media again or render the clip from FCPX. Having the whole scene in Hitfilm means you're working on the VFX in context with the rest of the scene, so you'll see how it fits in with the timing of the surrounding shots. Here I might discover one of the VFX clips needs to be a little longer/shorter, so I can adjust the Timeline in FCPX without just rendering from Hitfilm THEN discovering timing is off.

    I just realized my last post sounded dismissive of AAF transfers as kind of useless, but they're actually a very useful tool - you just have to understand what it's intended for.

  • GrayMotion
    GrayMotion Website User Posts: 1,584 Enthusiast
    edited July 6

    @lbabbott You're getting a lot of answers to your query. Hope it's helping.

    As you probably know FCP X does not have a 2.5-3D space native. No camera. I know you mentioned you didn't like Motion but that's where your 3D power is. Motion is to FCP what After Effects is to Premiere. Pure power of 3D workspace.

    Triem23 is spot on when he laid out the workflow from Hitfilm back to FCP. Spot on. So there is an option for sure. If you are after 2.5 or 3D compositing the Ignite plugin won't give you exactly what you are after but Motion sure will. In fact Motion is very much like Hitfilm in that it's a layer based, has Cameras, lights, 3D points, replicators, particle sim, tracking, chromakey, FxPlug, etc. etc and can be ported to FCP. I assume you own it based on you saying you didn't really like it but seriously...the best 49.00 you ever spent .👍

    I know you have just discovered Hitfilm Express recently and that may give you everything you need based on your statement that you occasionally need 3D effects. With that said I'm just going to throw this out there just so you have the info - there is a plugin from MotionVFX called mO2. It WILL give FCP the power of 3D compositing. I'll drop a link just so you have the info. IMHO "the best" application ever made for FCP/Motion (along with mTracker). But I digress...I'm getting spendy on you though. mO2 is 199$ and mTracker is 249$. I'm a Mac freak and absolutely love FCP/Motion and the MotionVFX tools...so I'm bias.

    I hope I didn't go too far off track what you are after but just wanted to point you to the things I use along with Hitfilm Pro. Luck to you in finding the right balance.

  • lbabbott
    lbabbott Website User Posts: 4 Just Starting Out*
    edited July 6

    @GrayMotion @Triem23 I appreciate the in-depth discussion points. As I've stated, my current needs are slim, but I'm just trying to find the right tools for myself--there's so much more available now than there ever was.

    As far as Motion is concerned, I like that it integrates well with FCP X, but for whatever reason, I don't find it intuitive & everything takes me twice as long to do than I'd like. I know--that's throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so maybe it's worth a second go.

    In the meantime, I'll experiment with HitFilm Express, and see how that goes :)