SliceX and TrackX Review Part 1

If you’ve ever used some flavor of Mocha from Imagineer Systems, then you know how amazing their planar tracker technology is. A planar tracker tracks planes, not points, which allows for more flexibility with your tracking, e.g. an item you’re tracking can run out of the frame temporarily, and your track can continue successfully. Imagineer has partnered with plug-in maker, CoreMelt, to integrate its planar tracking and roto-masking technologies into two plug-ins called Slice X and Track X, both exclusively available for Final Cut Pro X. I broke my review into two parts due to LinkedIn’s character limit, so this will cover SliceX, and next week, I’ll cover TrackX.

Both plug-ins are available individually for $99 each, or you can buy a bundle with both plug-ins for $150, not the cheapest around, but not a bad for a bundle that works in a $300 NLE.

SliceX is available inside FCP X as 8 effects and 3 titles/adjustment layers. Some of the different trackable shape mask effects are Blur, Depth of Field, Object Remover, Pixelate, and Skinfix. Applying any of these shows you the same UI in the viewer, but the plug-in settings are different for each effect.

You can get started by dragging any of the effects to a clip, tweaking your shape, and then starting your track. This sounds simple enough, and I’ve had no problem with other trackers, but for some reason, I couldn’t get my desired results with SliceX, so I read the manual. There are 3 short short PDFs that can be accessed through the plug-in itself (it depends which question mark icon you click, but they are all different), and reading them definitely helped, so I strongly encourage that you check them out.

Here are some important things to note when using SliceX:

Each instance can only have one shape per effect, but you can stack multiple effects on a clip which will all track at the same time.

Your default shape can only be scaled because it doesn’t have any points, but you can create a custom one with the different tools. I strongly recommend that you browse the PDFs to learn the shortcuts associated with selecting, navigating, and deleting points on a shape.

Once you have your desired shape you can start your track. Remember, Mocha is a planar tracker, which means you need to draw your shape on a single plane. Tracking is straightforward, but if it gets thrown off, you have options: You can change your tracking model from Translate/Scale/Rotate to Perspective; you can change the quality from Medium to High if there is a lot of motion blur, but this will increase the track time; or you can add keyframes your track. Keyframing is really great, and just a few can augment a great automated track. One of the tips I picked up is that you need to adjust the mask points in order for a keyframe to be created. So adjusting the default shape on effects without mask points DOES NOT CREATE KEYFRAMES. There are some effects where the default shape does have points, though, but it would be nice if the Keyframe UI were grayed out when this is not the case. One thing the manual notes is that you can grab a shape’s center point to add a keyframe for the whole thing, but I was unable to get this to work.

Here is a short video using two different SliceX plugins.
Using the Object Remover, I removed a tree stump on a panning shot. Next I used Skinfix, but it’s subtle, so go fullscreen and HD. Skinfix is great for things like reducing highlights and blending them in with the rest of the face. Note, this is not a Beauty Box plugin, but it can smooth details out.

Overall, SliceX is a really fantastic plug-in that fills a necessary gap in FCP X’s arsenal. If you’re doing any kind of tracking and simple roto work and you want to stay in FCP X due to lack to time or experience with Motion, I would recommend SliceX.

That’s it for this week, see ya in part 2!

-David