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Twixtor Pro 4.0.

Price: Twixtor 4 Pro US$595

--Upgrade Price: from any previous version US$265

System requirements:

--PC: Windows 95/98/NT 4.0/ ME/2000/XP

--Mac: Mac OS X or later.

Host applications:

--After Effects 5.0 or later, Premiere Pro 1.0 or later, Final Cut Pro 4.0 or later, Combustion 3.04 or later.


RE: Vision Effects, Inc.

(Twixtor Pro 4.0 pictured above)

IT'S often said that the only way to speed up or slow down footage accurately is to use a film camera. Although many video editors happily change the speed of a clip in After Effects, the results are jittery, and never achieve the fluid look of slow-motion film. The Twixtor Plug-In changes all that.

Twixtor Pro 4.0 has several uses, including the ability to change frame rates to create a 'film-look', but the most impressive aspect is its ability to speed up or slow down a clip.

By tracking every pixel, and doing calculations so impressive most people wouldn't even begin to understand them, Twixtor creates new, smooth frames by warping and interpolating your interlaced footage. As you would imagine, render times can be hefty, but not impractical.

You can speed up or slow down an entire clip, or change the pace at different points throughout the clip. Imagine you've shot a fight scene, and you want to create an ultra-fast Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon effect, where the punches and kicks happen at supernatural speed. Twixtor enables you to speed up those exact moments with incredibly realistic results. An effect that can't normally be achieved with DV or HDV looks as good as the film versions.

Slow motion, usually so difficult to achieve in video without flickering frames and overlapping images, has the look and motion of overcranked film. This, alone, makes Twixtor worth the price.

Frame rate changes produce equally impressive results. You can take interlaced video footage and convert it to 24p--the same frame rate as film. This is essential if you want to print your DV or HDV to film, or achieve a film-look on a TV screen. Although there are many film-look techniques and plug-ins available, most simply reduce vertical resolution. Twixtor uses the pixel tracking technology to generate motion blur and frame-blending that looks like genuine 24p footage. You can achieve a similar film look with Magic Bullet, though render times tend to be faster with Twixtor.

One of the appeals of Magic Bullet, however, is that you can apply the filter, let it work out the best settings for you, and start your render. Twixtor is far more complicated. It takes a good few hours to get to grips with the software, and unless you're familiar with filters, frame rates, interlacing and 3:2 pulldown, you may struggle.

In real-world use, Twixtor is fiddly, and far from automatic. You are always required to intelligently input settings, sometimes repeatedly, to get the results you want. Sometimes this is a blessing, because you have the option to track particular pixels in the foreground and background, to ensure that you get the results you want. This is better than having a plug-in that needs no adjustment but produces bad results.

The manuals are part of the problem, filled with annoying asides for each host application, and jargon that many users won't understand. It's surprising that a demo version of the software is available for download, rather than just sample outputs, because many users might find the Twixtor interface so confusing that they will give up.

This is a shame, because Twixtor is undeniably powerful, and it is worth ploughing through the manuals and fiddling with the settings, because the results can be excellent. Complexity, of course, is the price you pay for flexibility. Twixtor's complexity allows you to use a much more in-depth approach to motion blurring. You can, for instance, remove motion blur when slowing footage. This creates an unusual look, where the footage appears to be running at normal speed, only slower (rather than having the motion blur of standard slow motion.) If you work in visual effects, or create music videos, this is the level of control you need on a daily basis.

Up to twelve tracking points can be specified to help guide Twixtor's motion estimation, and you can create and animate shapes to show Twixtor where objects are actually moving, on difficult clips. Although this makes the plug-in far more complicated to apply, it means that you can get it to work on just about any footage. When fast moving objects cross each other (as is often the case in action footage), many plug-ins apply blur to the wrong areas. By animating guide-shapes, you ensure that the blurs are all in the correct place.

Twixtor is frequently updated and improved, for no additional cost, which is a significant benefit. This plug-in is complex, takes time to get used to, and creates long renders. But if you want to change frame rates, or the speed of a clip, this is the plug-in you'll need because the results are beautiful and better than anything else on the market.

Christopher Kenworthy is the author of two novels, The Winter Inside and The Quality of Light, along with many stories, features and reviews. He has written, produced and directed four short films, one of which, Dreamer, won the Grass Roots Film Festival in 2002.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Australian Teachers of Media
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Author:Kenworthy, Christopher
Publication:Metro Magazine
Article Type:Product/service evaluation
Date:Mar 22, 2006
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