Plug-in Review: qp Grade Assistant 2

So we gave in....... and decided to review the occasional software, gear, and training package. This will not be turning into a "camera and software" review blog however.

While the internet is fullof reviews for video gear, software, and training, we will be reviewing different, often unheard of products that will hopefully grab your interest and deserve your support. I occasionally feel a product deserves special mention on our blog if it changes the way we approach a certain aspect of storytelling, if it's use in our work substantially improves our workflow, or if it simply an outstanding product (officially awarded "Cinetic Awesomeness").

As I've been testing out a new After Effects plug-in on our newest video, I discovered it offered some really great tools that were unavailable with an built-in After Effects plug-ins or features. qp Grade Assistant 2 , available at AEScripts, offers you every type of scope you could ever want right inside After Effects: Lumascope, Vectorscopes, RGB scopes, and few more useful features that can really help you grade or composite your images with more accuracy besides "that looks better".

All Scopes and RGB Channels

Now, why would you want scopes in After Effects? We have them in our editor & color grading applications, so why add another? Plenty of reasons! After Effects has some extremely powerful controls for color correction and grading (even better than Premiere Pro CC and Final Cut XPro), it can be used as for finishing due to its powerful text and design tools, and we can't forget about the massive collection of third-part plug-in available which add untold levels of functionality. Add in the tracking potential from Mocha and 3D Camera Trackers and After Effects is easily the be most useful post production application around with scopes. OKAY, even without scopes, After Effects earns that title, but adding scopes really gives it a set of legs with ANY use involving color manipulation.

RGB Scopes

Besides the basic addition of a variety of scopes, this plug-in adds two neat features called Comp Assist and Grade Assist.

Comp Assist aids in the compositing (or combining multiple images into one) by displays the red, green and blue channels individually so you can the correct the colors to match (see my sample below). This makes compositing, say for example, a green screen key to a background much easier, as its essentially the act of matching 3 different black and white images using a basic levels of curves effects in After Effects on each of the Red, Green, and Blue channels. It's all messing around with each color channel until it looks just about right, or hitting reset on the effect and trying again, but eventually I'm betting you'll nail it, especially if you have some help like this plug-in.

Comp Assist of the Right

Comp Assist of Green Screen

Grade Assist aids by giving you live, responsive scopes while you grade with a huge number of effects loaded up (within reason and depending on your system configuration). That simple, but extremely useful, as its completely missing from After Effects and unavailable outside of Color Finesse, which is still a paid third party plug-in. Whether you like to use levels, curves, or third party plug-ins like FilmConvert to work with color, I found qb Grade Assistant 2 to be an extremely useful addition to After Effects if you need to manipulate color accurately in Adobe After Effects.

Final Decision

: I found the

qb Grade Assistant 2

quite useful and would definitely recommend it, especially if you do a lot of color correctinggrading or chroma keying in After Effects. It's

not

an absolute necessity at $79.99, but it really did make the process easier especially with the scopes and two useful 'assist' features. Be sure to check out the plug-in at

http://aescripts.com/qp-grade-assistant/

where you can try it or purchase it, if it sounds interesting. 

Disclaimer: I am a beta tester for this plug-in and was provided a license for testing and evaluation purposes. This fact does not factor into my review or opinion whatsoever. I won't support software or gear simply because a company offers to pay or provide free product in exchange for a positive review. Period.