HitFilm 3 Pro is out now

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A month or two back I was writing the ‘What’s New?’ page for the upcoming HitFilm 3 Pro website. As the page grew longer and longer, detailing feature after feature, vastly overtaking the equivalent HitFilm 2 webpage, I thought: yeah, this is a good one.

Let me introduce you to HitFilm 3 Pro, coming soon to Mac and PC.

Designed for everyone

What is HitFilm?

HitFilm 3 Pro gives you everything you need to be an editor, VFX artist and colorist. It merges a non-linear editor with advanced 3D compositing and over 180 effects, plus mocha tracking from Imagineer and 130 plugins for your other video software.

How does it work?

HitFilm’s unique design combines an NLE and compositor in a single interface so that switching between timelines is as easy as changing tabs in your web browser. It’s the fastest way to iterate and innovate.

If you’re looking for new particle simulator features, they’re here. The editor is hugely more powerful. The editor-compositor workflow works better than ever thanks to new background proxying. We’ve added over 20 new effects and OpenFX compatibility. Mocha HitFilm’s capabilities have been expanded to include mask tracking. There’s even a new 16-bit in-to-out OpenEXR pipeline.

The interface has a new, low profile design which disappears into the background, bringing the focus back to your shots. It feels both fresh and familiar – and faster, thanks to intelligent caching.

There’s also that new name, which better reflects the direction of the product and also has the benefit of being shorter, which is good for everybody’s typing fingers. In case you were wondering – yes, HitFilm 3 Pro is the direct successor to HitFilm 2 Ultimate.

Beginner or expert, there’s features here that you’ll like.

3D particle textures are a big deal

Below is a 3D particle cityscape built procedurally using Videocopilot’s Metropolitan pack. Note the low level ground fog hugging the buildings.

Take a simulator capable of generating hundreds of thousands particles, then combine it with live 3D model rendering. That’s HitFilm 3 Pro.

The city image above was built from a single city block. You could create much greater variety through the use of multiple particle systems and 3D object combinations.

Fleets of ships, sprawling cityscapes, flocks of birds, asteroid fields, a hail of arrows, a squadron of fighter jets. Are you thinking bigger yet?

Proper 3D particle textures revolutionizes the entire system.

Atomic shapes

HitFilm 3 Pro has a new version of atomic particles which can be applied directly to 3D objects, creating an array of particles arranged according to the model’s 3D geometry.

Tracking masks with mocha

Every purchase of HitFilm 3 Pro includes mocha HitFilm 4.0 from Imagineer Systems. You can now export a tracked shape back into HitFilm 3 Pro to use as an animated mask. This one feature alone saves you hours upon hours of work.

This short video shows an auto-tracked mask in action. While a simple shape, it’s nevertheless something which would have taken a considerable amount of time to manually animate. Note how mocha’s planar tracking copes easily even as the actress moves her hair.

Taking 3D models to the next level

We’ve improved the overall visual fidelity of 3D objects. Ambient occlusion now uses 32-bit rendering and you can even go up to 32x MSAA if your hardware can handle it.

A cool new feature is the wireframe mode, which does exactly what you’d expect. Combine wireframe with a heavy light falloff to generate some awesome holographic ‘scanning’ visuals.

Over 20 new effects

I’ve picked out some of my favorite new effects – there’s plenty more still to reveal.

Auto volumetrics creates 3D light rays. At first glance these can look similar to the light rays effect found in HitFilm 2, until you realize that volumetrics react properly to a 3D camera. It’s great for augmenting on-set lighting.

A classic tutorial, made even easier in HitFilm 3 Pro with instant heat distortion and color vibrance

Heat distortion is needed in a lot of projects. From jet exhaust to a burning desert landscape, this new effect makes it super fast and easy to create realistic heat distortion without needing to generate your own displacement texture.

Lens blur provides a post-processed depth of field, based on a depth map and with customization of the iris bloom shape.

On the grading front there’s pro skin retouch for an application of digital make-up and grade transfer for instantly matching looks across multiple clips.

Oh, and did I mention curves?

Camera projection

3D camera projection redefines what you thought was possible.

Photoreal virtual shots

Take a photo of your set or location, convert it to a projected 3D scene and create an entirely new, photorealistic shot, complete with 3D camera movement.

The example above was created from a single still image, projected onto several planes. It’s a simple example – you could take it much further, adding 3D objects or titles and comping in greenscreen actors.

Easy object removal

With and without - object removed in a moving crane shot courtesy of camera projection

Every short film I’ve ever made has featured an unwanted cameo appearance from a camera tripod. That says more about my observational skills than anything else, but camera projection would have been extremely useful in those situations.

Project a clean reference frame onto simple 3D planes and you can remove actors and objects from shots, even with a moving camera.

Total effect enhancement

Camera projection also enhances HitFilm’s other effects. Classic effects such as pond ripples and the new rain on glass can now be applied realistically to any angled surface.

Unified 3D space

The 3D workspace has been reworked to provide more consistency and flexibility across all 3D layers. 3D objects, the particle simulator and the gunfire effect can now exist either in their own isolated 3D space or in the unified 3D space.

What does that mean practically? It means you can put your greenscreened actor right inside the cockpit of a 3D helicopter and you can move a 3D object through a particle cloud. No need to use awkward compositing tricks – it just works.

Alternatively, switch your 3D layers to their own isolated space and you get access to effects and masks, plus a performance boost. Add glows to particle sparks and blurs to muzzle flashes without needing to create embedded composite shots.

Explore OpenFX

HitFilm 3 Pro is OpenFX compliant, opening the door to a whole world of exciting third party plugins.

GenArts’ Sapphire plugins already work, bringing the same tools that were used on Iron Man, X-Men and Lord of the Rings to HitFilm. If you pre-order HitFilm 3 Pro you’ll even be entered into a prize draw to win Sapphire 8, worth $1,699 (NOTE: pre-ordering is no longer available).

We’re working with numerous developers including Red Giant, RE:Vision Effects, NewBlueFX and the makers of Primatte to make sure that HitFilm users have a broad choice of high quality plugins. More news on our plugin partners soon.

Here, have 130 plugins

When you buy HitFilm 3 Pro you’re also making your other software better at the same time. HitFilm 3 Pro comes with 130 premium plugins designed for use in Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X, Vegas, After Effects and Motion. No need to buy them separately.

If you were an early adopter of the HitFilm Plugins product earlier this year, don’t worry: we’ve got you covered. Here’s how it’s going to work: If you own HitFilm Plugins, you’ll get HitFilm 3 Pro for free. That’s all there is to it. It’s our way of saying thanks for supporting the product from the start.

Over time we’ll be expanding the plugins collection as well as the number of compatible host platforms.

All your clips in a row

A new trimmer has been added for editors, making it much easier to preview and trim clips before adding them to your editor sequence. It’s a flow that will feel instantly familiar if you’re coming from another NLE.

Audio meters, the trimmer and larger previews in the editor. Everything is fully customizable

Other changes add up to a slicker and more efficient experience. Need to closely examine a cut? You can now loop play a defined region. Assets can be dropped straight onto the Viewer. Clips can be instantly sliced at the playhead’s position by pressing a key. Timeline thumbnails are now (optionally!) larger and you have a choice of multiple waveform types.

If you’ve only ever used HitFilm as a compositor, now’s the time to try out the NLE features. And if you’re new to filmmaking, there’s no better way to get started, with a product that grows with your skills.

Faster and faster

HitFilm 3 Pro takes a giant step forwards towards that dream of a no-waiting, no-rendering workflow.

Even if you’ve created an intensive particle simulation with hundreds of thousands of particles, you can continue to edit and work on other shots while HitFilm silently renders a proxy in the background. Before you know it, the VFX shot will be playing back smoothly on your timeline.

Want to know more?

HitFilm 3 Pro is right around the corner. There’s a lot more still to talk about.

No doubt you have a million questions, so post them in the comments below and we’ll answer as many as we can.