Plug-Ins Simulate Film, Add Transitions
By Jim Heid
After Effects users, your universe has just expanded. Three new
plug-in collections have joined the sizable array of third-party
add-ons that tap into Adobe's video-effects powerhouse. DigiEffects'
CineLook Broadcast 1.0 simulates the look of motion-picture film,
right down to the dust and scratches. Artel Software's Boris FX
3.0.3 creates impressive 3-D and color effects; it also works
with Adobe Premiere and Data Translation's Media 100. Finally,
Alien Skin Software's Eye Candy 3.0 for After Effects provides
a grab bag of visual sweets.
The Look of Film
Videotape and digital video are economical and convenient, but
they lack the rich look of film. The grain of a film's light-sensitive
emulsion, its unique color sensitivity, and the shutter movement
of a movie camera and projector combine to create a richness that
makes videotape look harsh and clinical by comparison.
With DigiEffects' CineLook Broadcast, you can give your digital
video the look of film. CineLook doesn't just add faux grain--its
presets mimic the characteristics of dozens of commercial films
from Agfa, Fuji, and Kodak, in color and black-and-white 8mm,
16mm, and 35mm stock. In addition, several offbeat presets simulate
old movies and deliver grungy effects suitable for MTV. The Film
Damage plug-in, for example, gives clips a vintage look by simulating
scratches, dust, and projection stuttering.
You can customize any of CineLook's 52 parameters within each
preset to tweak grain size, color balance, shutter motion, and
more. You can also use After Effects keyframes to animate the
parameters over time and create new presets to recall your favorite
settings. CineLook's beautifully designed user interface streamlines
the adjustment process.
CineLook Broadcast limits the frame size to 768 by 486 pixels.
Thus, if you're outputting to film, you'll need the $1,995 CineLook
FilmRes; it supports After Effects' maximum frame size of 4,000
by 4,000 pixels. FilmRes should be available in the first quarter
Boris FX Meets After Effects
Boris Effects has long been a must-buy for Premiere and Media
100 users, offering sophisticated motion control, 3-D image mapping
and transitions, and color keying (see Reviews, January 1997).
Boris FX 3.0 is the first version that also runs under After Effects.
The good news is that virtually all of its features have made
it into After Effects; the bad news is that adjusting effect parameters
within After Effects is less than straightforward. In Premiere
and Media 100 systems, Boris FX offers an attractive interface
that lets you, for example, drag a 3-D cube to specify its rotation.
When you use Boris FX under After Effects, however, you must specify
all parameters using After Effects' bare-bones Effects Settings
window, which offers no such luxuries.
Still, being able to access Boris FX's arsenal from within After
Effects is a boon. Boris's DVE effect, for example, makes short
work of creating clips that spin and tumble, complete with feathered
borders and drop shadows. Version 3.0 also adds a large selection
of curvilinear filters that let you add ripple, bulge, and wave
effects, along with color-correction filters for adjusting brightness
and contrast, creating tints, and solarizing.
Macworld's Buying Advice
CineLook Broadcast is the most ground-breaking of these three
collections, bridging the gap between digital video and film as
no other personal-computer-based product has to date. At $695,
however, it isn't for casual users. Boris FX 3.0.3 is an outstanding
upgrade of an already stellar product, and it's one of the few
effects plug-ins that works with Premiere as well as with After
Effects. And Eye Candy 3.0 for After Effects offers some appealing
filters and effects you won't find in other products.
Boris FX 3.0.3
RATING:4 out of 5 mice PROS: Extremely versatile array of effects and transitions; also works
with Adobe Premiere and Data Translation's Media 100. CONS: Native user interface unavailable in After Effects. COMPANY: Artel Software (617/451-9900, www.artelsoft.com). LIST PRICE: $495 (Media 100 version, $695).
CineLook Broadcast 1.0
RATING: PROS: Stunning film simulation; superb interface. CONS: No printed documentation. (ED Note: Now includes a printed manual!)
COMPANY: DigiEffects (512/306-0779, www.digieffects.com). LIST PRICE: $695.
Eye Candy 3.0 for After Effects
RATING: 4 out of 5 mice PROS: Appealing mix of filters; good documentation. CONS: A bit pricey. COMPANY: Alien Skin Software (919/832-4124, www.alienskin.com). LIST PRICE: $599.