MacDirectory Magazine

Fall-Winter 2010 (#43)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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106 MacDirectory REVIEW RED GIANT PLUG-INS > PSUNAMI, TRAPCODE PARTICULAR, KNOLL LIGHT FACTORY PRO Much of the miracle of desktop video is achieved through the addition of commercial plug-ins in the form of filters, transitions and special effects. One of the top sources of these is Red Giant Software . Choosing between their many offerings is a challenge, as nearly every one is a must- have item, and you can never stop with just one. As difficult as the choice may be, we will select three very different offerings: Red Giant Psunami, Knoll Light Factory Pro, and Trapcode Particular. Knoll Light Factory Pro 2.5 Light Factory is used for creating, deploying and animating lens flares – those flashy rings, stars and shapes created by light reflected within a camera lens, typically when pointed at a strong light source. This filter is nearly ubiquitous and is seen in movies, TV shows and commercials on a daily basis. Remember the Star Trek "nexus" ribbon rippling through the sky? How about a nuclear flash and expanding shockwave? These are but a few examples of what you can do with KLF. In addition to providing a wealth of presets, easy and intuitive tools are available for creating custom flares and lighting effects, including the use of custom primitives. AfterEffects users can also import all of the elements of a flare (such as a caustic, spikeball and polyspread) as editable layers within a composition for further manipulation. Light Factory is highly conducive to experimentation and there seems to be few limits to this plug-in, which is available at the appropriate features vs. cost sweet spot of $399. Psunami Psunami is used for creating animated bodies of water within Adobe AfterEffects. By combining animated polygon meshes, ray tracing and other 3-D capabilities, Psunami makes it easy to create realistic water scenes both above and below the surface. While you can easily create ocean effects right out of the box, this is not a point and shoot tool. It provides controls for such things as wind speed, haze, lights, water refraction, swells, depth of field (which can also be used to for layer compositing), displacement maps (such as an animated ship's wake) and image maps (such as the foam created by the wake). It even provides the camera effect of a bobbing platform. There is a good assortment of factory presets and users can create and save their own. Psunami is not intended to compete directly with high-end dedicated 3-D suites, but for $199 this is one handy plug-in. Trapcode Particular 2 Particular is one sweet particle generator and is seen just about everywhere for such simple things as falling leaves and accumulating snow to complex explosions, elaborate star and nebula compositions, simulations of high-speed traffic taillights, and countless background compositions for broadcast news, lower thirds and mattes. It can also be used within AfterEffects for generating particles that can be used by other plug-ins such as Knoll Light Factory. Particles can be bounced off surfaces, chased through 3-D space (such as a trail of fire and smoke), be blown in the wind like a stack of playing cards, and can use an AfterEffects precomposition as the source for generating streams of particles, such as turning burning papers into cinders. There is no question as to the power and usefulness of this plug-in. As with Light Factory, it is available for $399 — but if you are a serious AfterEffects jockey, this should be considered a must-have item for your special effects arsenal. Conclusions These are three very different tools that are among the choice plums of Red Giant's many offerings (all of which are choice in their own right). All are compatible with AfterEffects, while Psunami and Knoll work with a variety of applications (see the Web site for specifics). They offer a great deal of power for the price and offer the kind of stand- out magic that will make a big impact the board room, on the viewing public, and on your demo reel. A final recommendation: Visit Red Giant's Web site and check out all of their amazing offerings and demo videos. If you have the budget, you might consider buying the whole enchilada in the form of Red Giant's Mega Bundle. These tools are really that good. Products Red Giant Psunami, Knoll Light Factory Pro, Trapcode Particular Made by Red Giant Software Price Red Giant Psunami - $199 Pros Fast, easy, powerful, realistic Cons 2-D compositing, no spray effects Rating ★★★★ Price Knoll Light Factory Pro - $399 Pros Versatile, powerful, accepts Particular data Cons None Rating ★★★★★ Price Trapcode Particular - $399 Pros Powerful, highly controllable, versatile Cons Learning curve Rating ★★★★★ WORDS BY TREY YANCY

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