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FXhome Hitfilm 2 Ultimate review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 299
inc VAT

Sophisticated and hugely inspiring, this video-effects software is a must for ambitious filmmakers


3D camera tracking breathes life into another new feature in version 2: the ability to import 3D models. These must be created elsewhere, but there are options to break models into component parts and animate them independently, so you can rotate propellers for example. Render quality is reasonable, but without support for ray tracing the chances are that the software used to design a 3D model will be able to render it at higher quality. However, thanks to Mocha’s camera tracking, 3D models sit inside video clips with startling accuracy. If you’re happy to pick some off-the-shelf 3D models and spice them up with some dramatic particle effects, it’s hard to imagine a more convenient way to add UFO invasions to DIY film projects.

There are lots of other new features, too. Moving particle emitters can now release particles at the end of their life or as they hit a surface, which is perfect for creating exploding fireworks or rockets that detonate on impact. As before, each particle is actually a bitmap, but now it’s possible to animate these bitmaps for vastly more complex simulations.

Hitfilm Mocha
The mocha plug-in analyses video clips, calculating the changing camera perspective and mapping it to 3D animations

A collection of new video effects give 2D media a three-dimensional quality. Extrude is most likely to be used for text, but it can be applied to any object. Atomic Particle splits a clip into thousands of pixel-like dots which can then be scattered and animated into complex shapes. It can respond to audio, too, although the resemblance to cheesy screensavers is unfortunate. The Shatter effect knocks brick-like holes in the middle of the clip; look out for this one in a future hip-hop album trailer. These effects are welcome, but the method for making them sit in the same world as other 3D elements is counter-intuitive and a little flawed.

We loved the first version, but Hitfilm has really hit its stride in this update. It’s not as versatile as Adobe After Effects, but it’s much more than a budget alternative, with superior particle effects, proper 3D animation and the huge benefits of mocha (which is an expensive third-party plug-in for After Effects). It’s just as technical, with vast lists of parameters and barely any off-the-shelf instant results. However, this is as it should be. 3D animation and compositing is inherently complex and Hitfilm doesn’t shy away from providing the necessary tools. It’s perfect for action films, but there are plenty of other uses too, including pop videos, animated product shots, logos and business graphics. It’s also ideal for blowing stuff up just for the sheer thrill of it. We can’t recommend it highly enough.

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Price £299
Rating *****

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