Saturday, April 17, 2010

Auto FX Releases a New Mystical Lighting Package

Here's Mary Poppins. Okay. She's an actress in the role of Mary Poppins at Disney's Magical Kingdom. I used ONLY filters from Auto FX in the processing of this image. Specifics on this later in the week.

I've been in Florida for nearly a week poking around. Just before I left, I had the opportunity to download the latest Mystical Lighting & Ambiance package from Auto FX.

It's a package I've been looking forward to for months. You'll recall that Auto FX launched the blockbuster upgrade to the lackluster Mystical Tint Tone and Color 1.0 and blew me away.

I've been working with a hands-on copy of ML&A for a week now. My review of the package will be published next week. But in the meanwhile, I had an opportunity to chat with Cliff Weens of Auto FX about their package. Here it is:

1) What are you MOST proud of in Mystical Lighting 2.0?

The photo-realistic, natural way in which our light rendering engine capture the essence of real-life streaming light.

2) What are the three most significant differences between 1.0 and 2.0 in your view?

Number one would have to be the interface with features like the Brush Palette and new brush shapes. Number two would be the new atmospheric effects and the addition of over a dozen new filters in the suite. Number three would have to be the way it is integrated into the Mystical Suite allowing you to combine Mystical Lighting and Ambiance 2.0 with 80 other filters from the Mystical Focus and Mystical Tint Tone and Color suites. This gives the new version of Lighting a vast amount of power as you can add Focal effects and Color and Tonal effects to set the scene up for a photo-realism that is really beautiful to see.

3) Was "ease of use" a key consideration in your development of 2.0?

Absolutely - we wanted to proceed the first version which was released 7 years ago with something worthy of an upgrade ... we wanted to make it as easy as humanly possible so we worked really hard to improve the look and feel of the interface.

3a) Are there significant changes to the user interface?

One of the features we really liked in this release was the larger Before / After presets that let the user select from our instant presets or save their own and see the original then the effect version of the preset. It makes storing the instant presets so much nicer.

4) Has processing speed been enhanced?

By around 30%. We do have a multi-core version releasing this summer that is a free update - it has an extremely fast performance ratio and will improve speeds up to 5x faster on just about every effect and on some it will be close to real-time.

5) You've added "Ambiance" to the title. What are the key package differences that led to this?

When you see how Mystical Lighting can set the mood for the scene you immediately see where the Ambiance idea comes from - the new atmospherics are also a part of this name addition.

6) Which of the filter options do you use most often?

I am a huge fan of Light in the Dark and the Rainy Light / Haze filters as they add lots of drama to a scene.

7) What were the big challenges in developing the new package?

We spent lots of time with studying what we had already done and how it was being used - this meant seeing photographers like Lisa Jane ( were using our solutions in their workflow.

8) What's BRAND NEW in Mystical Lighting 2.0?

We added twice as many effect filters. The new Snowy Light / Rainy Light let you stream lighting and rain / snow across your scene so you can really create some amazing looks.

9) Where do you see the primary applications for the filter sets?

Setting the tone and mood for a photo in a post-production environment. Many times studio photographers don't want to setup a fog machine and try to fight with creating real haze in the studio. Or when on an outdoor shoot they can't always control the lighting ... Mystical Lighting and Ambiance gives the photographer the ability to control this aspect of their work in a digital suite of filters.

10) Can upgrades be made on-line?

Sure can ... we have the upgrade priced at $129 and it is downloadable as well as available in a physical copy too.

11) Any purchase discounts available?

Sure are - between now and July 30, 2010 users can upgrade or purchase a new copy with a 10% discount if they use coupon code: P24568

12) What's next for Auto FX?

We're working heavily on the 64 bit Mac version right now (out in a couple of weeks) as well as making sure support for CS5 is rock-solid. We also have a team working on multi-processor support with a new rendering engine that is very fast. So the biggest work we have are the optimizations we're applying across our portfolio of over 150 filters.

That's the interview. The review comes next week, and will probably be composed on a plane in the middle of the night.

Auto FX has also released an interesting little "Mystical Focus" package. We'll have information on that next week as well.

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