capsule review

Commotion 3.0

At a Glance
  • Pinnacle Systems Commotion 3.0

Rotoscoping is the art and science of painting directly on individual frames of a piece of film or video to create special effects, and there's no better tool for rotoscoping on the Mac than Pinnacle Systems' Commotion. Recently upgraded and completely rewritten, Commotion sports features that not only allow for new types of effects but also greatly change the way the program fits into a production workflow.

As previous versions do, Commotion 3.0 lets you load QuickTime clips into RAM for full-screen, full-motion playback. But where previous versions opened and manipulated QuickTime movies directly, version 3 includes a complete project-management interface that lets you edit nondestructively and take advantage of a full range of compositing effects.

Adobe After Effects users will feel comfortable with Commotion's Project and Composition windows, which support unlimited layers and provide full keyframe control over properties such as position, scale, rotation, and opacity.

If you're outputting to a FireWire-based DV system, you can now preview your video on an NTSC monitor from within Commotion; you don't need to move video into an editing package to watch it at full resolution.

Commotion has always had excellent real-time painting tools, but version 3's rewritten painting engine makes them even better. This version's paintbrush tools offer improved subpixel rendering and a more comfortable feel. The 75 new effects filters include Pinnacle's Primatte Keyer, Composite Wizard, and Image Lounge packages. The powerful cloning facilities now allow you to clone from one frame to another, and the automatic wire-removal brushes and natural-media effects tools remain excellent.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner   Commotion 3.0's project-management interface allows complex compositing, improved workflow, and easier revisions.

With the program's new project-management tools comes a new approach to painting. You can now paint directly into an individual QuickTime movie or into a composite of several movies. And a streamlined palette and set of controls make the Motion Tracking feature a little less cumbersome to use.

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Excellent selection of effects
    • Project-based interface for rotoscoping and compositing


    • Minor interface flaws
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