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Software Review: Dfx 3.0 Digital Filter Suite Video/Film Plugin from Tiffen Software

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Dfx 3.0 Video/Film is a set of digital filters for simulating popular Tiffen glass filters and other effects. Available for both Windows and Mac, it contains about 2,000 filters you can use in a wide variety of ways. The filters simulate glass filters, specialized lenses, optical lab process, film grain, photographic effects, and more.

Dfx 3.0 is available in several configurations including standalone or as a plug-in for either photo post-production (Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, and Apple Aperture) or video post-production applications (Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premier Pro, Avid Editing Systems, and Apple Final Cut Pro). It comes with everything you need to enhance your images through its filters. For the purpose of this review, I am using the Video plug-in version.

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film contains 121 individual filters that come with thousands of customizable presets. Along with the filters, you get Rosco and GamColor Gel libraries, Rosco and Gam Gobo libraries for lighting effects, 8 or 16 bit image processing, and multi-processor acceleration.

The filters are broken down into several categories: Film Lab, HFX Diffusion, HFX Grads/Tints, Image, Lens, Light, and Special Effects. Each one of these categories has anywhere from 7 to 27 subcategories that can be added to your video production.

I am working with Dfx in conjunction with Adobe Premiere Pro CC and so my evaluation is based on that interface, which is very similar to Adobe After Effects. With Premiere Pro, you select the clip that you want to add an effect to. This could be anything from a short segment to a complete project.

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film

Once you have your clip selected, you go to your effects panel and navigate to one of the seven Tiffen effects categories. Expand the category, select the preset that you want to use and drag and drop it onto the clip. From here you have two ways to make modifications.

First, within Premiere Pro you can go to the effects control panel and locate the chosen effect and expand it and make your adjustments there. The second way is to go to the effects control panel and select the settings button and you will be presented with the Dfx interface. I prefer to begin with the Dfx interface.

The Dfx interface is comprised of three main components: the viewer in the center, the presets on the left, and the parameters on the right. In the viewer you can see the changes to an image in your clip. Your video image will be presented as a still image. You can choose from the existing filter presets. And the parameters window displays the current filter’s parameters. Adjusting the parameters will update and change the image in the Viewer.

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film

The subcategory you choose will determine the number of presets available. You can then select the preset that most closely matches the look you want and it will apply it to the image in the viewer. On the right side you can tweak your image by playing with the available parameters; again this is based on the subcategory you initially chose. When you are happy with your adjustments, you can optionally save the preset under a different name. It will then be added to your preset lists for future use.

Depending again on what preset parameters are available there may be additional options. For example if you click on the word “color,” another panel will open up that displays a set of variations on the color that you can choose from, up to 10 variations. Some presets such as “Dual Grad” that have two colors can give you as many as 100 variations (10 times 10) of that preset.

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film

When you are analyzing your image you have several controls at the top of the viewing window. These allow you to zoom in/zoom out of your image so you can fit the image into the viewer. You can magnify the image, pan around the image, see a side-by-side, split the image horizontally or vertically, or do a before and after. If you press the letter H on the keyboard a histogram of you image will appear in the lower right corner of the display.

Once you are happy with your image, you can save it and return to your application. To scrub the effect on the clip you will have to return to the application as Dfx does not have the ability to view the clip itself. If your effect is tied around a specific segment in the clip, then it would be best to select the segment, launch the Dfx interface, make your changes and then return to your app. Once you return, you can make further changes and, as with Premiere Pro, set a start point and an end point for that effect if you only want it to happen over a specific set of frames.

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film

When you are finished with your changes, you can then apply them to your clip. Keep in mind that this is not Mercury Playback Engine accelerated, but it is able to handle multi-processor acceleration. While I have a fairly powerful machine, it does appear to render rather fast in the processing. One thing to watch for is that with some of the filters, if you see some flickering when scrubbing through, you may need to check the “Force 16-bit…” button as this plugin can run either 8 or 16-bit.

As over 2,000 presets come with Dfx 3.0 Video/Film, it would be impossible to go over them, but you can watch a video that will give a quick overview. A number of effects based around colors simulate an effect that you might try to get when using a traditional optical filter from Tiffen. Some effects provide gradation in the filter that can create some really nice looks easily such as intensifying the sky or brightening dark areas. Still others revolve around lens effects like blur or depth of field.

As I said, there are two ways to work with the effects. My personal preference is using the Dfx interface because the browser gives you a lot of feedback about what it is going to look like when applied or when you tweak the parameters.

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film

Dfx 3.0 Video/Film

Given that you can layer effect on filters and effects, although I would warn against going overboard, there really is no limit to what you can do with this library. I also like the fact that there are some repair tools including DeBand, DeBlock, and DeNoise to help clear up problems with your footage.

Overall, I found the Dfx 3.0 Video/Film easy to work with, and it provides a large number of useful filters for your video needs. It would be nice if it had the Mercury Playback Engine acceleration, some scrubbing abilities in its own Dfx, and some masking capabilities, but these last two can be handled in Premiere Pro.

You can check out all of the filters and download a 15-day trial version of Dfx 3.0 Video/Film. If you are in need of a great all-around set of filters and effects for your video production, I highly recommend Dfx 3.0 Video/Film.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.