Tag Archives: Plug-in

Review: Red Giant’s Universe 2

By Brady Betzel

Throughout 2016, we have seen some interesting acquisitions in the world of post production software and hardware — Razer bought THX, Blackmagic bought Ultimatte and Fairlight and Boris FX bought GenArts, to name a few. We’ve also seen a tremendous consolidation of jobs. Editors are now being tasked as final audio mixers, final motion graphics creators, final colorists and much more.

Personally, I love doing more than just editing, so knowing tools like Adobe After Effects and DaVinci Resolve, in addition to Avid Media Composer, has really helped me become not only an editor but someone who can jump into After Effects or Resolve and do good work.

hudUnfortunately, for some people it is the nature of the post beast to know everything. Plug-ins play a gigantic part in balancing my workload, available time and the quality of the final product. If I didn’t have plug-ins like Imagineer’s Mocha Pro, Boris’s Continuum Complete, GenArt’s Sapphire and Red Giant’s Universe 2, I would be forced to turn down work because the time it would take to create a finished piece would outweigh the fee I would be able to charge a client.

A while back, I reviewed Red Giant’s Universe when it was in version 1, (check it out here). In the beginning Universe allowed for lifetime, annual and free memberships. It seems the belt has tightened a little for Red Giant as Universe 2 is now $99 a year, $20 a month or a 14-day free trial. No permanent free version or lifetime memberships are offered (if you downloaded the free Universe before June 28, you will still be able to access those free plug-ins in the Legacy group). Moreover, they have doubled the monthly fee from $10 to $20 — definitely trying to get everyone on to the annual subscription train.

Personally, I think this resulted from too much focus on the broad Universe, trying to jam in as many plug-ins/transitions/effects as possible and not working on specific plug-ins within Universe. I actually like the renewed focus of Red Giant toward a richer toolset as opposed to a full toolset.

Digging In
Okay, enough of my anecdotal narrative and on to some technical awesomeness. Red Giant’s Universe 2 is a vast plug-in collection that is compatible with Adobe’s Premiere Pro and After Effects CS6-CC 2015.3; Apple Final Cut Pro X 10.0.9 and later; Apple Motion 5.0.7 and later; Vegas 12 and 13; DaVinci Resolve 11.1 and later; and HitFilm 3 and 4 Pro. You must have a compatible GPU installed as Universe does not have a CPU fallback plan for unsupported machines. Basically you must have 2GB or higher GPU, and don’t forget about Intel as their graphic support has improved a lot lately. For more info on OS compatibility and specific GPU requirements, check out Red Giant’s compatibility page.

Universe 2 is loaded with great plug-ins that, once you dig in, you will want to use all the time. For instance, I really like the ease of use of Universe’s RGB Separation and Chromatic Glow. If you want a full rundown of each and every effect you should download the Universe 2 trial and check this out. In this review I am only going to go over some of the newly added plug-ins — HUD Components,  Line, Logo Motion and Color Stripe — but remember there are a ton more.

I will be bouncing around different apps like Premiere Pro and After Effects. Initially I wanted to see how well Universe 2 worked inside of Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve 12.5.2. Resolve gave me a little trouble at first; it began by crashing once I clicked on OpenFX in the Color page. I rebooted completely and got the error message that the OpenFX had been disabled. I did a little research (and by research I mean I typed ”Disabled OpenFX Resolve” into Google), and  stumbled on a post on Blackmagic’s Forum that suggested deleting “C:\ProgramData\Blackmagic Design\Davinci Resolve\Support\OFXPluginCache.xml” might fix it. Once I deleted that and rebooted Resolve, I clicked on the OpenFX tab in the Color Page, waited 10 minutes, and it started working. From that point on it loaded fast. So, barring the Resolve installation hiccup, there were no problems installing in Premiere and After Effects.

Once installed, you will notice that Universe has a few folders inside of your plug-in’s drop down: Universe Blur, Universe Distort, Universe Generators, Universe Glow, Universe Legacy, Universe Motion Graphics, Universe Stylize and Universe Utilities. You may recognize some of these if you have used an earlier version of Universe, but something you will not recognize is that each Universe plug-in now has a “uni.” prefix.

I am still not sure whether I like this or hate this. On one hand it’s easy to search for if you know exactly what you want in apps like Premiere. On the other hand it runs counterintuitive to what I am used to as a grouchy old editor. In the end, I decided to run my tests in After Effects and Premiere. Resolve is great, but for tracking a HUD in 3D space I was more comfortable in After Effects.

HUD Components
First up is HUD Components, located under the Universe Motion Graphics folder and labeled: “uni.HUD Components.” What used to take many Video CoPilot tutorials and many inspirational views of HUD/UI master Jayse Hansen’s (@jayse_) work, now takes me minutes thanks to the new HUD components. Obviously, to make anything on the level of a master like Jayse Hansen will take hundreds of hours and thousands of attempts, but still — with Red Giant HUD Components you can make those sci-fi in-helmet elements quickly.

When you apply HUD Components to a solid layer in After Effects you can immediately see the start of your HUD. To see what the composite over my footage would look like, I went to change the blend mode to Add, which is listed under “Composite Settings.” From there you can see some awesome pre-built looks under the Choose a Preset button. The pre-built elements are all good starting points, but I would definitely dive further into customizing, maybe layer multiple HUDs over each other with different Blend Modes, for example.

Diving further into HUD Components, there are four separate “Elements” that you can customize, each with different images, animations, colors, clone types, and much more. One thing to remember is that when it comes to transformation settings and order of operations work from the top down. For instance, if you change the rotation on element one, it will affect each element under it, which is kind of handy if you ask me. Once you get the hang of how HUD Components works, it is really easy to make some unique UI components. I really like to use the uni.Point Zoom effect (listed under Universe Glow in the Effects & Presets); it gives you a sort of projector-like effect with your HUD component.

There are so many ways to use and apply HUD Components in everyday work, from building dynamic lower thirds with all of the animatable arcs, clones and rotations to building sci-fi elements, applying Holomatrix to it and even Glitch to create awesome motion graphics elements with multiple levels of detail and color. I did try using HUD Components in Resolve when tracking a 3D object but couldn’t quite get the look I wanted, so I ditched it and used After Effects.

Line
Second up is the Line plug-in. While drawing lines along a path in After Effects isn’t necessarily hard, it’s kind of annoying — think having to make custom map graphics to and from different places daily. Line takes the hard work out of making line effects to and from different points. This plug-in also contains the prefix uni. and is located under Universe Motion Graphics labeled uni.Line.

This plug-in is very simple to use and animate. I quickly found a map, applied uni.Line, placed my beginning and end points, animated the line using two keyframes under “Draw On” and bam! I had an instant travel-vlog style graphic that showed me going from California to Australia in under three minutes (yes, I know three minutes seems a little fast to travel to Australia but that’s really how long it took, render and all). Under the Effect Controls you can find preset looks, beginning and ending shape options like circles or arrows, line types, segmented lines and curve types. You can even move the peak of the curve under bezier style option.

Logo Motion
Third is Logo Motion, located under Universe Motion Graphics titled uni.LogoMotion. In a nutshell you can take a pre-built logo (or anything for that matter), pre-compose it, throw the uni.LogoMotion effect on top, apply a preset reveal, tweak your logo animation, dynamically adjust the length of your pre-comp — which directly affects the logo’s wipe on and off — and, finally, render.

This is another plug-in that makes my life as an editor who dabbles in motion graphics really easy. Red Giant even included some lower third animation presets that help create dynamic lower third movements. You can select from some of the pre-built looks, add some motion while the logo is “idle,” adjust things like rotation, opacity and blur under the start and end properties, and even add motion blur. The new preset browser in Universe 2 really helps with plug-ins like Logo Motion where you can audition animations easily before applying them. You can quickly add some life to any logo or object with one or two clicks; if you want to get detailed you can dial in the idle animation and/or transition settings.

Color Stripe
Fourth is Color Stripe, a transition that uses color layers to wipe across and reveal another layer. This one is a pretty niche case use, but is still worth mentioning. In After Effects. transitions are generally a little cumbersome. I found the Universe 2 transitions infinitely easier to use in NLEs like Adobe Premiere. From the always-popular swish pan to exposure blur, there are some transitions you might use once or some you might use a bunch. Color Stripe is a transition that you probably won’t want to use too often, but when you do need it, it will be right at your fingertips. You can choose from different color schemes like analogous, tetradic, or even create a custom scheme to match your project.

In the end, Universe 2 has some effects that are essential once you begin using them, like uni.Unmult, uni.RGB Separation and the awesome uni.Chromatic Glow. The new ones are great too, I really like the ease of use of uni.HUD Components. Since these effects are GPU accelerated you might be surprised at how fast and fluid they work in your project without slowdowns. For anyone who likes apps like After Effects, but can’t afford to spend hours dialing in the perfect UI interface and HUD, Universe 2 is perfect for you. Check out all of the latest Red Giant Universe 2 tools here.

Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com. Earlier this year, Brady was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Unforgettable Christmas Celebration.

Review: RTW Mastering Tools (Masterclass Plug-Ins Series)

By Diego Jimenez

Loudness metering equipment is always an important ingredient in our work environment at Hobo Audio. The projects we work on always demand different standards and specifications, whether it’s mixing for TV, film or the web. Our goal is to not only provide excellent quality audio, but also a comfortable listening experience to the consumer while meeting all the specifications our clients require.

There are many metering solutions on the market currently, and I believe it’s because you can now use them as plug-ins.

RTW Mastering Tools ($549) is a versatile new plug-in that helps you check the proportion and balance of your mixes. It’s ideal for audio post production work because of the customization and placement you can do of all the meters and analyzers offered. This is essential for our studio because we are constantly switching between mix sessions or mix rooms, so we can assign different settings and parameters depending on the kind of mix that we are doing.

Diego Jimenez in one of Hobo's Pro Tools suites.

Diego Jimenez in one of Hobo’s Pro Tools suites.

RTW also has a variety of peak program metering scales and supports leading global loudness standards, including ITU BS.1770-3/1771-1, ATSC A/85, EBU R128, ARIB, OP-59, AGICOM and the CALM Act.

I like to have numerical meters to check loudness, and RTW offers both numerical and a bar graph. It has a general preferences window, as well as a setting window for each individual meter or analyzer (up to six). RTW has in-depth settings like routing up to eight channels, true peak sensitivity, channel weighting, surround sound analyzer, audio vectorscope and many more. The plug-in also includes multiple choices for the users, such as colors and views of the bars and meters, size and placement as well as total freedom for customization in the plug-in for any of your mix needs.

Putting it to the Test
I used the RTW plug-in for a total of 22 days and in three different scenarios — web, TV and film mixing. I also ran the plug-in in two of our rooms, one housing Pro Tools HDX with 5.1 surround sound capabilities and the other, a stereo room, with Pro Tools HD Native. Both  rooms feature Apple Mac Pros — the surround room offers 32GB of RAM, and the stereo room offers 24GB of RAM.

main

The first thing that impressed me about the RTW plug-in was the ability to create and arrange your tools or instruments in the plug-in window. It’s amazing. You can save your presets, and you are good to go. But it would also be good to have a couple of options in case you need a quick start… for instance, something like the true peak meter only, and the numeric values with the short- and long term-loudness numeric values so you can quickly start checking your mix. So, to reiterate, while I do love that they allow the user to customize to their own needs, it would be nice to have one or two presets as a start point.

All the time, and in our templates, we add a meter on sessions —on an aux track with the same input as my full mix recording track to measure the overall mix level. Then I create a dead-end bus for the output. While using the RTW in 5.1 mixes it would have been helpful if  the plug-in could match my surround presets in Pro Tools. Instead I had to create these settings. Also, when mixing in surround, not all the time, I use the meter in other audio and aux tracks with multiple outputs for other reason. This generated another problem because the plug-in bypassed itself when you use multiple outputs in your track.

RTW is a plug-in that you can use not only to measure your mix levels but also to check your mix panning, stereo or surround imaging. As an example, I added RTW to my FX sub and used the surround sound analyzer to check the behavior and dynamics of the sound design mix. I also checked phasing with the Correlator, or the Vectorscope, looking for more creative ways to use the RTW tools.

Another wish would be that RTW allow  the plug-in do multiple outputs. The plug-in also bypassed itself sometimes with just one output when I was using it in a small recording session using Pro Tools HD Native.

RTW_Mastering_Tools_Box

 

The biggest issue, and it was surprising to me that happened more in Pro Tools HDX than in our Pro Tools Native systems, was that the Pro Tools meters response was affected when you use RTW. The cursor slows down a little, and when playing back in a complex session like a TV show or a film project you really can see the latency on the display when playing back. To reiterate once more, this only happened in sessions where I used several plug-ins and had several tracks opened. What caught my attention was that in my Pro Tool CPU and memory meters there’s not much activity happening to create this problem; it’s only happening when I use the plug-in and you can really tell the stress you add in Pro Tools in these large sessions.

Summing Up
Besides some minor issues, RTW’s Mastering Tools are an amazing plug-in. It’s very extensive, and I think if I had it more time to experiment the more I would like it.  As I mentioned before, it’s so loaded with tools that you can not only accurately check your mixes, but the tools can also help explore and guide your creativity.

RTW Mastering Tools are great to have in your studio toolbox. It’s fresh, versatile and user friendly. It helps with the average volume in your mix, and it’s an essential element for all the different kinds of media and specifications mixes need these days.

Diego Jimenez is a sound designer and engineer at New York City’s Hobo Audio. 

Review: Templater via aescripts + aeplugins

By Brady Betzel

When I first arrived at college 10 years ago, I was all set to be a computer science major. Once I started to program using arrays, I realized quickly that I couldn’t do ones and zeros for the rest of my life. I needed to use my technical skills in harmony with whatever creative skills I thought (and still think) I have.

Eventually, I began to dive into the deep end of web programming and Adobe After Effects expressions to show off and complement my editing and motion graphics work. Luckily for me I remembered just a few if/then and else/if statements from my Java classes.

Lately I’ve been visiting www.aescripts.com daily in my search for interesting and topical post production-related nerdiness. aescripts.com is a site dedicated to After Effects scripts and Continue reading

Review: Boris FX: Boris Continuum Complete V.9

By Brady Betzel

These days there are only a few one-size fits all plug-in packages worth the price of admission, and unfortunately when working on a new project it’s pretty hard to convince the line producer that you need more than one package.

Usually when an editor asks for Boris Continuum Complete (BCC), GenArt’s Sapphire, or even the lower-priced Red Giant Universe, the line producer will laugh a little when they see the price tags (multiplied by the amount of systems it would have to go on). Then, if you are lucky, they may even say, “Ok, choose one.”

So in this review I chose one: I will take a look at a couple of the latest updates to Boris Continuum Complete V.9’s plug-in library as well as give insights into whether BCC is right for your situation. I will be referring to both the Adobe After Effects/Premiere plug-in as well as the Continue reading

Video Copilot’s Element 3D V.1.6.2 for After Effects

By Brady Betzel

For this review of one of most powerful plug-ins available for After Effects, I am testing Video Copilot’s Element 3D V.1.6.2, along with the Pro Shaders material library. If you are a current Element 3D user and haven’t upgraded from Element 3D 1.5 or earlier yet, do it now!

There are many significant additions, such as being able to generate a 3D position null object, replace model option, and even a scene relink option. You will also need After Effects CS3 or higher, including Creative Cloud, on either Mac or Windows. Be sure that you have a compatible system including the graphics card. You can check compatibility at Continue reading

New educational pricing for NevronMotion plug-in for LightWave 11.6

Burbank — The LightWave 3D Group is offering new educational pricing for NevronMotion, motion capture and retargeting software for LightWave 11.6 on Windows. Qualifying students and educators can get the full-feature version of NevronMotion for the price of $99, and it’s available now. The plug-in is regularly priced at $299.

“Students are the CG magicians, visionaries, and storytellers of the future,” says Rob Powers, president, LightWave 3D Group.  “Our goal is to support their creativity and fresh ideas with groundbreaking technology like NevronMotion for LightWave 11.6. It has a powerful but simple workflow for motion capture, retargeting, and realtime character performance using an off-the-shelf Microsoft Kinect camera.  And, with no limitations to the software, students have full access to all the features of LightWave and NevronMotion. It’s an exciting time for students working in 3D and we look forward to seeing how far they push their creativity using our technology.”

NevronMotion allows artists and animators to quickly and easily extend the Virtual Studio Tools in LightWave to capture, adjust, and retarget motion data to 3D models in LightWave 11.6. NevronMotion features the ability to:

• Capture live rig motion with the Microsoft Kinect camera
• Retarget motion capture directly in LightWave Layout
• Save and adjust captured motion data from the Kinect camera
• Easily adjust arm and leg mocap positions and layer hand-keyed animation on top of motion capture files
• Save and load retargeting presets for FBX, BVH, or custom set ups
• Preset rigs for Kinect and other motion capture formats
• Quickly bake out motion to character rigs

NevronMotion_Kinect_Capture_001small

Kinect Capture

LightWave 3D offers an end-to-end production pipeline for artists and designers to model, animate, capture, retarget, render, and input and output to 3D. A full feature license of LightWave 11.6 is available to qualified students and educators for $149 (USD); regularly priced at $1495 (USD).
Some of the many features of LightWave 3D include:
• Modeling – Robust polygonal sub-d modeler with real world units
• Surfacing – Stunning photoreal layer-based and nodal surfacing tools
• Rigging – Instant rigging presets with or without weight maps\
• Object Referencing – Flexible object referencing architecture or ASCII scenes
• Animation – Procedural, nodal, flocking and keyframe animation tools
• Rendering – Integrated state-of-the-art renderer with unlimited nodes
• Viewport Preview Renderer (VPR) – Interactive shading, raytracing, DOF, motion blur, lighting and GI
• Bullet Dynamics – Fast and simple rigid and soft body Dynamics Engine
• Industry Standards – Supports Alembic, FBX, Autodesk Geo Cache, Python, DPX, ZBrush Goz, After Effects, MDD, and OBJ.
.

Digital Film Tools Composite Suite Pro 1.5 now GPU-accelerated

LOS ANGELES ‑ Visual effects software company Digital Film Tools has made its Composite Suite Pro plug-ins GPU-accelerated, significantly increasing the speed of the tools.

Composite Suite Pro allows users to combine multiple images by using compositing tricks and techniques, color correction, blur, grain, matte manipulation, lens distortion, lighting effects and edge blending.

“With Composite Suite Pro’s GPU-accelerated plug-ins, editors and artists can quickly eradicate the most common effects problems or employ specialized compositing plug-ins for combining imagery such as fire, smoke and explosions,” comments Marco Paolini, founder/president, Digital Film Tools (http://www.digitalfilmtools.com/cs). “Easily cut out or isolate objects using our proprietary matte generator or pick from a variety of color correctors and natural lighting effects to spice up your images.”

Composite Suite Pro feature highlights:
• Compositing tricks and techniques
• Effectively composite fire, explosions and smoke
• Sophisticated color correction tools such as Color Correct, F-Stop, Printer
•Points, Telecine and Temperature
•Edge tools to correct color or blur the composite’s edge
• Natural lighting effects and glows
• Proprietary matte generation
• Matte manipulation using shrink, grow, blur and wrap functions
• DVE to transform your images
• Film and HDTV Mask Overlays
• 32-bit processing
• GPU-acceleration
Composite Suite Pro is available now for $395. If installed on the same machine, one license will run in the following applications: Adobe After Effects CS5 and up, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and up, Apple

FilmLight offers Windows version of Baselight for Avid

 

LONDON — FilmLight has launched its Windows version of Baselight for Avid. This is part of the Baselight Editions range, which delivers the key elements the Baselight color grading software as a plug-in for existing post tools.

Baselight Editions puts the Baselight user interface, along with its color processing, into a standard AVX plug-in. It provides unlimited primary and secondary grades in a single layer, including mattes, automatic object tracking and full keyframe animation.

Baselight for Avid supports AAF-based round-tripping with full Baselight systems, meaning that no rendering time is needed to export grade metadata back into Media Composer. That includes carrying over sophisticated grading data including secondary color correction, shapes and tracked objects. Since the exported grades are fully modifiable, workflow efficiency is improved, as corrections and last-minute changes can be made directly in Media Composer, with no need to return to the full Baselight suite.

Color information can also be exported in the FilmLight BLG file format, for seamless exchange with any other FilmLight (http://www.filmlight.ltd.uk) system including other Baselight Editions.

The software includes FilmLight’s Truelight color management system so that editors know that what they see on their monitor is what they will get.
To complement Baselight Editions, FilmLight offers the Slate control panel. This offers the same configurability, precision, ergonomic convenience and reliability as the full-sized panel, but in a smaller form factor.

“We know that the production and post industry is moving away from the idea of color grading as a single step in the process towards collaborative workflows, where a number of people contribute to the look of a project,” said Wolfgang Lempp, co-founder of FilmLight. “To meet the trend, we now offer ‘Baselight everywhere,’ with the appropriate tools – and the same uncompromised color precision – on devices from on-set ingest to the final deliverables.

“We have had Baselight for Avid on Mac for some time,” FilmLight’s Lempp added. “What our customers told us was that they also needed to access it in their Media Composer and Symphony suites, with full render-free grading and a simple workflow. The new Baselight for Windows delivers this.”