Every so often a program comes along that defies easy categorization, and Imaja's BlissPaint 2.0 is such a beast. This wildly flexible color-animation program lets you not only create special effects and save them as QuickTime movies, but also use live audio and video to control animations. Thanks to the unique Color Synthesizer and the variety of animated brush shapes and filters, there's nothing else quite like it.
BlissPaint works its magic by playing combinations of brush effects, called Scribblers. Scribblers range from animated brushes, fractals, geometric shapes, concentric circles, and paint blobs to distortion, mirroring, and noise filters. The variety is overwhelming, especially when you consider that you can also use live video input and still images (but not QuickTime movies, unfortunately) as source material. And version 2.0 lets you customize the Scribblers' parameters; real-time control mapping allows you to change any Scribbler parameter based on, for example, mouse movement or the volume of a live sound input.
You define how an animated Scribbler appears on the screen using Distributors. You can arrange combinations of Scribblers and Distributors in the Sequence window, to build a list of events to play back sequentially. You can also control how colors change over time by combining Color Synthesizer settingsfor 8-bit color palette cyclingwith the other events in the Sequence window.
But the most magical aspect of BlissPaint is that it's the only Mac program that can save dynamic 8-bit palette animations as QuickTime movies, so you can export BlissPaint animations into video-editing and -effects programs such as Adobe Premiere and After Effects. You can even use live video and audio to control BlissPaintas the music gets louder, for example, animated color effects become more saturated.
The only drawbacks are that the program doesn't include printed documentation and ships on floppy disks (though Imaja will burn you a CD-ROM at no additional charge if you request it when you place your order).
When you combine an almost endless array of animated brushes and effects with extensive color controls and programmability, you end up with a truly one-of-a-kind program. BlissPaint 2.0 just may be the best special-effects bargain on the block.
RATING: PROS: Extensive brush effects; powerful color-animation options; can save animations as QuickTime movies. CONS: No printed manual; can't use QuickTime movies as source material. COMPANY: Imaja (800/294-6252, http://www.imaja.com ). LIST PRICE: $150.
July 1999 page: 54