MacDirectory Magazine

Fall-Winter 2008 (#39)

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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114 MacDirectory REVIEW | PRODUCTIVITY Video filters can be grouped into two categories: practical and fun. Excellent examples of the two are found in Red Giant's Composite Wizard and Trapcode Horizon. On the practical side is Composite Wizard 1.4, which provides an outstanding set of filters for seamlessly stacking layered visuals in creating photo- realistic composites. The fun side is brilliantly represented by the seemingly simple but stunningly effective 3-D tool, Trapcode Horizon. Designed for Adobe AfterEffects, these filters are definite candidates for the must-have list of any motion graphics pro. Composite Wizard While After Effects has a nice selection of compositing tools, Red Giant's Composite Wizard provides nearly two dozen filters that makes green screening easier than ever. Among others, its includes excellent tools for finding and adjusting edges, light wrapping (for a realistic color spill), an alpha cleaner for removing noise between frames, an excellent Z-buffer tool for applying a depth of field blur to imported 3-D animations, a re-matter for combining multiple matte creation effects in a single pass, excellent feather and feather/sharp tools, a fast and easy wire/rig zapper, a super compound blur for adjusting blur by luminance or individual RGB channels, and HLS tools for matching and or restoring colors. Its smooth screen effect provides an excellent starting point for green screen shots, smoothing variances in the screen before keying. The miracle alpha cleaner tool is a great tool for reducing or eliminating the need to manually retouch mattes. The super blur tool provides the quality of a Gaussian blur but at up to five times the speed, saving a great deal of rendering time. Composite Wizard works equally well on video assets and text. It also provides an excellent complement to Primatte keyer and works wonderfully with AE 6 through CS3 and beyond. Trapcode Horizon The 3-D tools and effects in AfterEffects, while impressive, are not genuine 3-D but flat planes in 3-D space. In order to achieve a genuine feel of true 3-D the background should be both spherical and have a direct relationship to the position and angle of the camera. This is the purpose of Trapcode Horizon. While Horizon started out as a way to generate 3-D gradients and blends between spots of color in a 3-D space, its capability of projecting a full 360º x 360º spherical image adds a dynamic quality to an otherwise average animation. An easy example is to grab a deep space photo from NASA and apply Horizon, then attach a looping fireball effect to a circular object in the center of the scene, and then orient the camera and object to one another. A simple spin of the orbit camera tool makes the scene leap right off the screen. Taking things further, you can take a generated particle smoke stream (from a filter such as Trapcode particular), attach this to a path and have the camera follow the resulting animation through 3-D space for a stunningly realistic chase sequence. To achieve the fullest effect, one needs a spherical panoramic image. These images are available from various sources, and tutorials are available from such sources as Gnomon Workshop for creating your own. When projected flat, spherical images have a great deal of distortion at the top and bottom, but as long as you keep your camera within 60º of the horizontal plane it is fairly easy to simulate a spherical environment in Photoshop with the clouds filter and bit of edge cloning. For even more fun, you can mount a mirrored gazing ball from a garden shop on a cheap microphone stand and shoot your own. While Horizon is great with panoramic photography, it can also be used for projecting layers of masked objects. More than a one-trick pony, Horizon provides a playground for the imagination. RED GIANT COMPOSITE WIZARD AND TRAPCODE HORIZON Product Red Giant Composite Wizard and Trapcode Horizon Made by Red Giant Software Price Composite Wizard: $299.00; Trapcode Horizon: $99.00 Pros Composite Wizard: near- comprehensive tool set; Trapcode Horizon: simple yet effective Cons None Rating Composite Wizard HHHHH Trapcode Horizon HHHH WORDS BY TREY YANCY

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