MacDirectory Magazine

Spring-Summer 2008 (#37)

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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Product Trapcode Suite 2008 Made by Red Giant Software Price Boxed or download: $799 Pros Nice assortment, powerful, fun Cons Minor quirks Rating HHHH 112 MacDirectory REVIEW | CREATIVITY Special effects, motion graphics and other video wizardry is becoming so commonplace today that anyone with the right chops, some off-the-shelf software and a laptop can create magic that would give many high-dollar effects houses a run for its money. While professional motion graphics and video applications can generate impressive effects right out of the box, some of the most spectacular effects are achieved through third-party filters and plug-ins, such as the $799 bundle from Red Giant Software, Trapcode Suite 2008. The suite includes a variety of plug-ins in two general categories. The first is a set of video filters that work with Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, Motion, AfterEffects, Avid Xpress and Avid Composer. The second is in the form of plug-ins specifically for AfterEffects. Contents The video filters include Shine 1.5, StarGlow 1.5 and 3D Stroke 2.5. The first provides light effects for adding godrays and other radiant effects. Starglow, as its name infers, adds a star-like glow to an object or composition. The third is a vector tool that enables the user to create animated paths for creating moving, glowing streams of light and color, and creating effects ranging from dancing neon to thunderbolts. All three are highly adaptable and provide the controls for generating an impressive range of effects, particularly when combined with other offerings in the suite. The dedicated AfterEffects plug-ins include Particular 1.5.1, Lux 1.0.2, EchoSpace 1.0.2, SoundKeys 1.1.3, and a new and impressive item called Trapcode Form. Particular is a fairly robust particle generator that is used for creating scattering and trailing effects such as smoke, fire, sparks, fairy dust and the like. Lux is a tool for creating glowing spotlight effects such as visible beams of light. EchoSpace is a nifty expressions-based sequencing tool for creating, sequencing and animating objects in 3-D. SoundKeys is a plug-in for using an audio track to triggering animation. The final item in the collection is Trapcode Form, which is a marvelous tool for creating fire, smoke and dust effects. Hands-On As with any set of plug-ins, the value is largely determined by the project at hand and the flexibility of the plug-ins themselves. In this regard, we find most of this suite to be quite useful. If there is one thing that most of them have in common is an almost dizzying variety of controls. Fortunately, you do not need to be a rocket scientist in order to begin producing some eye-catching work, but once you get a handle on the more advanced controls, you will find yourself creating some amazing effects just by playing with the controls. Frankly, it is this sort of thing that is turning motion graphics applications such as AfterEffects and Motion into the Photoshop of the new millennium. As for straightforward allure, Trapcode Form is the most interesting of the lot. Using this tool you can set pools of smoke undulating to music, dissolve type into a swirl of dust, set objects on fire and move swirls of smoke through transparent objects. There are a dizzying number of controls, which can take a bit of experimenting to master, but there are also a huge number of presets that will get you up and running in no time. Particular is a very capable particle generator and can handle most anything. The only serious shortcoming is that custom particles based on 2-D art are permanently oriented towards the camera. If you are a Motion user, this will be an excellent complement to your existing particle generator. As for the other components of the bundle, they range from the exciting (such as SoundKeys) to the fun (EchoSpace and 3D Stroke) to the more mundane (StarGlow), but all are useful. For more detailed information, pay a visit to their website. While you're there, make sure to check out the video tutorials. Conclusions Trapcode Suite 2008 provides a good balance of power and variety and comes at a serious discount from the individual item prices. There is not a clinker in the bunch and it is easy to recommend this collection to any serious AfterEffects pro. TRAPCODE SUITE 2008 > RED GIANT'S VERSATILE BUNDLE WORDS BY TREY YANCY

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