Today's Best Tech Deals
Picked by Macworld's Editors
Top Deals On Great Products
Picked by Techconnect's Editors
Discreet, maker of SGI video applications with such incendiary names as Flame and Inferno, is now blazing a trail on the Mac. Combustion 1.0 combines the main strengths of Adobe After Effects and Pinnacle Systems' Commotion with a breakthrough feature all its own: true 3-D compositing. The result is a video powerhouse that makes high demands on both computing and purchasing power.
A Whole New World
In addition to its 400-page tutorial, Combustion comes with a special guide to help After Effects users shift from 2-D compositing into 3-D. This is a wise move, since Combustion has a unique look and approach. The program delivers a totally 3-D environment, with unlimited layers and lights, complex reflectivity, and a fully animatable camera. Layers are still flat (although you can hinge them together), but shadows, lighting, and focus controls lend depth to routine compositing jobs.
Although Combustion implements 3-D with stunning finesse, After Effects users will miss some features, including composition and layer markers and time remapping. And the text features are disappointingly inflexible; click away from the text tool, and you can no longer edit text.
Consistent with its SGI origins, Combustion offers extremely well-developed, detailed motion tracking, painting, keying, and color correction -- not your typical version 1.0 tools. The program accepts many Adobe Photoshop and After Effects plug-ins; it even one-ups After Effects by letting you edit imported Illustrator art. But Combustion does suffer from some new-release bugginess. These minor problems, along with upcoming multiprocessor G4 support, make a compelling argument for holding off until Discreet releases an update.
When it comes to rendering, Combustion is hardly a house afire; because the program is always calculating in 3-D, rendering takes significantly longer than in After Effects. And although Combustion's powerful RAM previewing can greatly accelerate your workflow, you need at least a 450MHz G3 or G4 with 512MB of RAM if you want to experience anything like spontaneous Combustion.