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Both hobbyists and professionals will find a lot to like in two new and different sets of plug-ins for Adobe After Effects. Artel Software's Boris AE 2.0 should appeal to anyone looking for more variety in his or her special effects, while DigiEffects' CineMotion 1.0 for After Effects is designed for digital videographers looking for the best output quality. Both are important additions to any After Effects toolbox.
Boris AE is a compelling collection of 44 filters ranging from fun to functional, with filters for distortion, color correction, lighting, keying, special effects, and simple 3-D object mapping. Many of the plug-ins render noticeably faster than their After Effects equivalentsfor example, the critical Unsharp Mask and Blur filters are twice as fast as After Effects' built-in filters, and more controllable to boot.
Another gem is the Pixel Chooser, an incredibly powerful option that lets you mask an effect very precisely with values derived from any other layer in the composition without using any additional After Effects masking techniques. The Digital Video Effects filter delivers a z-axis for "flying" elements, with built-in soft shadows, light sources, and opacity blends; a particle system offers customizable shapes and controllable velocity and gravity effects. But many After Effects users will want Boris AE just for its excellent distortion plug-ins, including an industrial-strength displacement filter.
For video artists looking to push the limits of captured video, CineMotion's extensions to 3:2 pull-down functionality surpass After Effects' built-in conversion capabilities. The documentation is disappointing, but CineMotion's ten plug-ins ease the process of making video look more like film and offer precise control over captured-video variables. The highlight is Film Motion, a filter that processes fields of video in various ways to yield different looks and gives you full control over interframe blurring, which simulates the motion of a camera shutter. Adjustable parameters let you tailor the effect to conditions in the processed footage.
Complementing Film Motion are plug-ins that enhance footage containing digital artifacts. These plug-ins give you fine control over banding, grain, noise, and field interlacing. Selective HSB Noise, for example, delivers separate noise values for a layer's hue, saturation, and brightness channels.
Both of these filter collections are worthwhile investments for serious After Effects devotees. Boris AE 2.0 has more-diverse special effects, while CineMotion for After Effects excels at optimizing video for professional applications. Both deliver exactly what they promise: a picture that will please any eye.
RATING: PROS: Wide range of effects; fast performance; great distortion filters. CONS: A bit pricey for the hobbyist market. COMPANY: Artel Software (617/451-9900, http://www.artelsoft.com ). LIST PRICE: $495.
RATING: PROS: Excellent film-simulation effects; good control over shutter parameters and grain reduction. CONS: Weak documentation. COMPANY: DigiEffects (415/841-9901, http://www.digieffects.com ). LIST PRICE: $299.
April 1999 page: 53