Hawaiki Color Review

A little confession – sometimes I get jealous of Final Cut Pro X. Why? Because it’s cool. It looks cool, it has a massive community of third party developers that puts out great plug-ins and templates for cheap and free, and because it’s different; I like different. However, for a multitude of reasons, I switched to Premiere awhile back, and I’m as thrilled as I can be. Premiere is what I was self-taught on years ago, and I was glad to see how it matured in the years that I had left it alone. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t still use FCP X or look forward to where it will go in the future. Every so often though, a new FCP X exclusive plug-in comes out that makes me a little jealous, and Hawaiki Color is one of those plug-ins. Created by a Tokyo Productions and Lawn Road and available exclusively through the FxFactory Platform, Hawaiki Color was something that I had to try. It comes as both an effect and a title, which means you can use the latter as an adjustment layer (in Adobe terms) to affect multiple clips with one grade.

The first thing you notice when you apply the effect is the great looking interface. The controls are on-screen, and your clip gets nested in a small area in between everything – very cool. If you go into the Inspector then you will see even more options to customize your interface, as well as detailed grading controls. The interface customization options were very well thought out, and they allow for any combination that you might think of, including a 2-up, split view, and even showing the clip full screen with the controls overlaid. There are large color wheels; dedicated controls for saturation, exposure, and temperature, each with their own low, mid, high, and global sliders; and another area for hue, contrast, blurring, and sharpening – in other words, everything you would want at hand. And when you’re all finished you check the ‘Commit Grade’ box and the interface disappears leaving you with a final clip until you choose to make adjustments.

So originally this review wasn’t going to be so positive because there were a number of major interface issues that immediately turned me off from using the plug-in. However, just before I sat down to write this there was an update that fixed my number one complaint – the fact that you couldn’t undo any changes made by using on-screen controls (OSC). This was bad and instantly made me dislike the plug-in. Color grading is not exact, and you’re constantly trying things and undoing them. However, the update fixed this!!! So make sure you’re using the latest update by going into FxFactory and checking.

There are still issues that bother me, but a major one is unfortunately a limitation of FCP X (and others might be as well). If you apply the effect to a 4×3 clip then the interface will be cropped. Additionally, if you apply the effect to an interlaced clip then the interface itself will become interlaced and look crappy. Hawaiki recommends creating a compound clip before adding the effect and this will work around that nasty limitation. If you choose not to compound then you can override certain clip settings to fix this, but then your clip won’t look right (stretched to widescreen and/or deinterlaced).

The other two things that bother me are that OSC parameters are measured in pixels, and that the sliders have no boundaries. A pixel measurement of parameters makes grading difficult because reference points are hard to find easily. For example, no additional exposure (the default setting) is .28 px, and 100% exposure is .5 px. The slider can go up to 1 px, but there is no effect after .5px. This is ridiculous and a terrible way to represent values. I suspect there is a bug with Saturation because the saturation will continue to increase as you push the slider out of its area and past .5 px. That bug aside, the sliders can extend straight out of their respective sections and right into another one. Of course, there’s little reason for you to do this, but it’s still worth noting.

This plug-in can’t be used in conjunction with other color correction effects because the OSCs are effectively part of the clip, which means that they get graded too. So if you wanted to make a color mask by using the Color Board and then use Hawiki Color to grade, you’re out of luck. This also means that the OSCs will show up in scopes, but they are very unobtrusive, and you can dim them in the settings or remove them all together (nice touch).

The effect really makes grading a snap with the easy-to-use OSCs. I love the close interaction I have with the interface and clip since they share a window, and this makes for a more immersive grading experience. The negatives aside, this really is an innovate way to grade, and I love seeing new plug-ins like this hit the market. They make the editing process a little more fun and interactive, and at $49 the price is right. You can check out more details at http://hawaiki.co/color.html and you can try a fully functioning demo, or purchase the plug-in through FxFactory at http://noiseindustries.com.