Slick Transitions and Effects Volumes 3 and 4
As the pioneer in the small but lively realm of iMovie 2 plug-ins, GeeThree offered transitions and effects that were equal parts useful and whimsical. To further differentiate its lineup from products by competitors Virtix and eZedia (Reviews, October 2002), GeeThree has focused on delivering more-practical tools in its latest pair of plug-in sets, Slick Transitions and Effects Volumes 3 and 4. Now you can create shots with split-screen or blue-screen effects, for example, without jumping into the much higher price brackets of pro video programs such as Apple's Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere.
Slick Volume 3
Thirty new title effects are the banner news in Volume 3. Some effects make up for deficiencies in iMovie's built-in set; for example, the Headline title effect can produce larger type than Apple's similar Center effect. Even the more fanciful effects -- such as Vellum, which curls like a transparent sheet of plastic across the screen, and Riptide, which makes words seem to rise from a pool of water -- are subtle, not garish.
This trend also applies to Volume 3's transitions: Flap and Flop, for example, improve upon cliched "page-curl" transitions by adding a slight flutter to some of the variations, and Ripple creates a realistic water effect. But don't think that GeeThree stuck to the high road -- there's also an enjoyable and trippy transition called Psychadelia-Tie Dye.
Standouts in Volume 3's effects are color modifiers Color Tint and RGB Adjust, as well as Rotate/Scale, which can help realign horizons slanted by slightly crooked camera work. (One downside: rotating exposes the frame's black borders. They typically don't appear during TV playback, but it would be nice to have the option of zooming in enough to hide them.)
Slick Volume 4
GeeThree calls Volume 4 the Hollywood Edition because it offers features typically found in professional-level applications. The Split Screen tool allows you to place two DV-formatted video clips side by side in a frame, and the Picture-In-Picture effect lets you create your own newscastlike scene -- you can place a box containing other footage anywhere on the screen. With the Matte-tastic effect, you can anchor your logo (or any other image) to video, but because this effect lacks controls for placing your image, you must create a Photoshop-format file to fit the dimensions of the screen and position your image against a transparent background.
More ambitious is VidMix, GeeThree's method of achieving blue-screen effects. Using VidMix requires a peek at the PDF-based documentation so you can understand how each component works, but it's otherwise easy to learn. Like eZedia's similar eZeScreen plug-in, VidMix delivers mixed results, depending on your blue-screen source material (we used a sheet of colored poster board). Footage rendered in a 3-D or vector-imaging program tended to work better, due to those programs' solid-color backgrounds; real-life footage, although shot against a solid background, had shadows and variations that we were unable to remove completely.
Much better implemented is SlickMotion, a separate application for panning and zooming still images. As a stand-alone program, it offers an easily navigable interface for controlling the degree of zoom and the camera's position -- as opposed to Virtix's plug-ins, which restrict you to operating from within iMovie's tiny preview pane. SlickMotion alone is almost worth the price of the entire Volume 4 package.
Macworld's Buying Advice
With the exception of the so-close-but-not-quite-there VidMix, Slick Transitions and Effects Volumes 3 and 4 offer iMovie 2 users at all levels a great combination of professional-looking effects that won't bust a production budget. Moreover, cost-conscious filmmakers will appreciate that Volume 4 alone includes most of the capabilities found in eZedia's and Virtix's offerings.
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