Tag Archives: Rampant Design Tools

Review: Rampant Design Tools FCP X plug-ins

By Brady Betzel

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been diving into FCP X and testing out some new tools that work within the editing system, including Rampant Design Tool’s FCP X plug-ins. Rampant Design helps you add value to your project, like adding video enhancements including light leaks, glitch effects, transitions, moving matte overlays and much more.

To back up a second, I have been reviewing Sean and Stefanie Mullen’s Rampant Design products for years, and they regularly create products that directly make me money in my freelance editing. That is the truth, plain and simple. If you make content that needs to grab someone quickly, like a sizzle reel, promos or anything for that matter, Rampant Design tools will help. They will add instant pop to your footage as well as save you so much time that you will be able to concentrate on the story you are trying to convey.

Check out Sean and Stefanie’s Facebook and YouTube show: www.RampantLive.com, a weekly live show that covers topics ranging from dealing with clients all the way to managing stress. It also includes interviews with industry pros like @FilmRiot’s Ryan Connolly (@ryan_connolly), Kevin P. McAuliffe (@KPMcAuliffe) and even me. They not only sell products, but they contribute to the entire post ecosphere by creating actionable and engaging content.

Digging In
Ok, enough background on to the products at hand. Some of the latest releases in the Rampant Design Tools catalog are FCP X plug-ins and Edit Essentials. Edit Essentials are a pack of 220 ProRes QuickTime light leaks, film effects, flares and more that were shot on Red cameras in 4K resolution.

While I am not going too deep into Edit Essentials in this review you can check them out here. Edit Essentials contains many similar products to the FCP X plug-ins, and are QuickTime-based — with a simple composite mode switch to something like Add or Hard Light you can be off and running in Adobe Premiere.

The Rampant Design Tool’s FCP X plug-ins are individual plug-ins that can be adjusted inside of FCP X’s Effects Panel. The downloadable FCP X plug-ins are Hard Light Overlays, Soft Light Overlays, Gradient Overlays, Style Mattes, Film Effects, Film Leaks, Flash Transitions and Glitch Transitions, all of which priced at $29 per set, a very reasonable price considering these are extremely customizable inside of FCP X.

I tried a few of these and created a quick demo on my YouTube channel. I used the Hard and Soft Light Overlays, Flash Transitions, Style Mattes, and Film Leaks combined using different compositing modes (which thankfully FCP X has built in).

What I really liked about using the FCP X plug-ins from Rampant were the ease of use and customization of each effect. Inside of the different effects, such as the overlays and flash transitions, you can customize hue, saturation, rotation and much more. If you like the way a certain light leak feels but you need it to be red instead of green, you can easily change the hue in the Effects Panel. With many of the effects plug-ins you can preview the effect inside the Effects panel or even preview the effect on the actual footage in your timeline and then click and drag onto your clip in the timeline.

style mattesThere is a trick I like to try with these effects: combining different compositing effects on top of each other. With Overlays I’ll apply a Hard Light composite mode to the clip with the Soft Light Overlay on it and place another video clip on a track beneath it. You can achieve a really unique look that is helpful when building sizzle reels and main title sequences. If you combine that like I did with the Style Mattes and you can achieve some high-level, professional-looking results. It really can give you an edge.

I’ve told this story before, but at one point I was an assistant editor looking to make the jump to editor, and I remember seeing the first iterations of Rampant Design Tools (which I still have on DVD by the way), ordered them and now I honestly believe they helped me get a promotion to editor.

One set of FCP X plug-ins that I mentioned earlier is the Style Mattes. I really love using these when doing fast-paced, more modern videos that need a shape-based look. If you troll YouTube for inspiration, like I do, you will most likely stumble on a 15-year old-kid doing a tutorial (that will probably make you jealous) on how to use composite modes and also how to work in diamond shaped patterns with displacement mapping from some drawing made in Adobe Illustrator and After Effects. If you want that look without all of the After Effects hassle, Style Mattes are where you need to be.

In my demo video, I used the Style Mattes X plug-in in FCP X along with hard light composite modes to give a sharp and blown-out look. Rampant Design has tons of variations on matte shapes and motions that you can expand upon by resizing, cropping, re-timing and any other way you want to affect your footage. Style Mattes can also be used as transitional elements between clips or layers of clips, this may take a little tricky transition-building by you, but if you customize a wipe to the timing of the style mattes you can quickly make your own unique shape-based transitions.

Glitch Transitions
The last plug-ins I will touch on are Glitch Transitions. Sure you can throw glitches over a clip, I mean who hasn’t at this point? But what really gets me is the ability to change the displacement values in the Effects Palette. You can instantly modify and create amazing glitch effects with a few button clicks, all starting with Rampant Design Tool’s awesome base — if you screw it up go ahead and reset it.

The Glitch Transitions allow the editor to truly customize each transition if they feel so inclined, or leave the plug-in alone and walk away. I would suggest that you customize your Glitch Transitions if possible, even if it is a little time remapping, doubling up on transitions to get a layered look, or even just modifying the saturation a little. A little customization goes a long way, and without the Rampant’s FCP X plug-ins it would take a few more steps to make such a personalized effect.

If there is one criticism I have with the FCP X plug-ins, it’s the installation process. Installing the FCP X plug-ins is a little cumbersome. They do give a very detailed video and PDF along with your download that explains step by step with arrows how to install them, but a nice simple installation would go a long way in my book. For an awesome plug-in that is priced well below many other plug-ins out there but rivals any of them, I can let a little drag and drop installation slide — I’m probably just lazy.

Summing Up
In the end, I always seem to love what the team over at Rampant Design Tools comes up with. Sean and Stefanie output so many high-end products, it gets hard for me to keep up! I even heard through Rampant Live that they are about to start work on a blood pack, which got me excited thinking about the combination of possibilities when you combine that with their Monster Toolkit.

I have never been disappointed with Rampant Design Tools and continue to be impressed not only by their incredible products but how the Mullen’s approach selling their products. Check out their www.RampantLive.com show and you will understand.

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, and follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff. Earlier this year, Brady was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Unforgettable Christmas Celebration.

Review: Fayteq’s FayIN Planar Tracker

A toolset that simplifies simple tracks and match moves.

By Brady Betzel

Tracking has become a hobby/obsession of mine lately, mainly because it’s not easy to do it well. Personally, I’m a fan of Imagineer’s Mocha Pro, but for some Mocha is either too hard, too time consuming or too pricey. Luckily for them, there is a tool that is made for those looking to do simple planar tracking and image inserts: FayIN from Fayteq (@fayteq). Simply, FayIN is a planar tracking plug-in for Adobe After Effects that allows the user to easily insert objects onto surfaces or computer screens relatively quickly.

As many of you know, if you dive deep into products like Mocha, SynthEyes, Element 3D or Cineware, for example, it can take hours of tutorials and practice to understand how the plug-in works. I was expecting FayIN to take at least a day to learn, but to my surprise it only took about an hour of watching all of their tutorials and another 30 minutes to figure out how FayIN worked. After I got used to it, I was thinking to myself, “Is that it?” As in, it’s simple and it does one thing. So when reading this review, or trying FayIN for yourself with their 30-day free trial, keep in mind that this plug-in isn’t proclaiming to be a Mocha replacement, but instead a toolset that simplifies simple tracks and match moves.

FayIN is a planar tracker that builds its own 3D world to align a camera for proper placement and corner pinning. In my testing, I found that FayIN shines when the footage is free of quick pans and extreme zooms and is as simple of a shot as possible. Think of a computer screen or picture on a wall that you want to replace.

How to Track a Shot
In After Effects you will need to load footage you want to track into a new comp. Keep in mind you can either set your in and out points for the track in the FayIN tool panel or you will need to trim your footage, put that into a pre-comp and apply the FayIN plug-in. From there you will see your video in the FayIN tool panel, click on that and add a new track. A new dialogue box named Track Properties will open, and this is where you will either create a rectangle bounding box around the area you want to track or use the brush-like tool to paint over the surface you want to track. You will also choose whether the area you want to track is a static image (picture of a house) or a moving object (picture of moving truck). There are some more advanced options, but for the most part you probably won’t be using them. Then just click to start. You will see a progress bar in the Effect Properties panel, as well as the FayIN tool panel.

Once complete, FayIN will add a placeholder in your comp, labeled “FayIN Placeholder,” that is colored a nice blue. In your comp viewer you should see a slightly see-through blue object that, in theory, will match what you are tracking. From there, in the FayIN tool panel, you can right click on the FayIN Placeholder and click “Exchange Insert Footage.” It will ask if you want to reformat the footage to the aspect ratio of the track or if you want it to fill the object regardless of aspect ratio (which will look stretched, most likely). I would go with the first option, in most cases, and finally your object will be placed in FayIN’s track. Hopefully, it locks into place and all is well; if you use simple footage you may have to do some slight rotation or z-space fixing, but you should be in business.

If you do need to do some tweaking you are going to want to click on the footage you tracked in your comp timeline. Then in the Effect Controls panel find the track that corresponds to the item you want to fix, click “Active” and you should be ready to adjust your rotation, x-, y- or z-space, and even see a report with hints at how you can make your track more successful. The main corrections you will probably have to make are aligning your tracking plane in z-space and adjusting the proper rotation. Luckily, FayIN will tell you that in the report!

I do have to say that the ability to tweak things like size and rotation at anytime without affecting keyframes is a nice feature. If you want to really get down to the nitty-gritty you will want to watch some of the advanced tutorials Fayteq has created. They are typically around five to seven minutes, so not too long. Check them out here.

Testing
I tested FayIN using some low-light video I shot with my iPhone 6, mostly because I was lazy and I figured that would be the footage that would be hardest to track with all the noise and low level of detail. To my surprise, barring the panning, FayIN performed great, and I was able to replace a photo on my wall in a matter of minutes. You can check out my example on YouTube.

I also tried some footage where a model rolled her head from left to right, looking away from the camera and eventually toward the camera. I wanted to insert some of Rampant Design Tools (@rampantdesign) Monster Toolkit Eyes onto the model. It was pretty tricky to get it to stick properly. Also, keep in mind that you cannot add an erase mask on top of the inserted object. You would need to duplicate the footage and create a custom mask. I wanted to erase the insert where her eyelids opened up to reveal the monster-like eyes, but I had to do it the old-fashioned way.

So What Do I Think?
In the end, I think FayIN is a great planar tracker if used for simple tracks. I had some problems tracking anything with quick pans, zooms or even with stuff that might have rotated into frame. I do understand that tracking isn’t easy and takes a lot of work, most of the time, but I also think that if you are buying a plug-in whose sole purpose is to track easily and simply, it should do just that. While FayIN does do what it is supposed to, and does it very easily, it doesn’t work in all instances. Furthermore, FayIN does not do anything that you can’t do with After Effect’s built-in 3D tracker and/or even the free version of Mocha that comes bundled with After Effects — but it does do simple replacements very easily.

Summing Up
In the end, if you do a lot of simple sign, monitor or flat surface inserts and don’t want to reinvent the tracking wheel every time, then FayIN is the tool you want. It is moderately priced at around $330, but if you buy before NAB you can get it for around $250. At the very least you should download the free 30-day trial and see for yourself, because FayIN is definitely extremely easy to use if you follow the well-done tutorials.

I feel like the future of FayIN is going to be bright; they seemed to have built this plug-in with the future in mind. They have been teasing FayOUT for at least a year now offering the ability to easily do object removal. So who knows, it seems like 3D integration is only a matter of time away.

Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood. Previously, he was editing The Real World at Bunim-Murray Productions. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter, @allbetzroff.

Rampant offering hundreds of free 4K effects

Rampant Design is making hundreds of Rampant 4K drag-and-drop style effects for editors, VFX and motion graphics artists… free of charge. As part of its new 4K education initiative, called 4KFree.com, Rampant’s founders Sean and Stefanie Mullen are hoping to show the community just how easy it is to create highly-styled effects for video in 4K.

By providing entire libraries of style effects deployed by dragging and dropping onto a timeline, Rampant Design is offering an easy and cost effective way to create professional effects at 4K.

“We’re giving away hundreds of 4K style effects absolutely free to show the post production community how powerful our products are, and to demonstrate that making the leap to 4K isn’t difficult or scary,” says Sean Mullen, CEO of Rampant Design. “We also understand that times are tough out there for editors and VFX artists. They have to do more with less… less time, less budget. By offering these 4K style effects at no charge, we hope to give the smaller design shops the chance to create big budget looks without breaking their bank accounts.”

Stefanie Mullen, co-founder of Rampant Design and professional editor, adds, “All of our 4K style effects can be used in any video production; it’s our way of giving back to the community. We are post production artists ourselves and we know first-hand what it’s like to be under the gun, with no time, no budget, but the expectation that you’re going to create something mind-blowing for the client.”

Quick Chat: Rampant Design Tools’ Stefanie Mullen

Many of you are already likely familiar with Rampant Design Tools, who are well-known in the industry for their high-quality drag-and-drop visual effects offerings. You might even have some on your system right now.

What you might not know is that Rampant is a small shop owned by the husband-and-wife-team of Sean and Stefanie Mullen, artists themselves. We thought it would be fun to get a look behind the curtain at this small company that creates tools that a lot of pros rely on every day.

How did Rampant begin? What was the genesis of the company?
Rampant began five years ago, but the true beginning of the company goes back 20 years when my husband Sean began working in Hollywood. He was working with top producers and visual Continue reading

Rampant Design’s Budget VFX offers 40 HD looks for $29

By Brady Betzel

This week Rampant Design Tools has released its latest offering, Budget VFX, which are multiple collections of ProRes QuickTime overlays that add light leak looks (Beauty Light), Bokeh Effects, Film Clutter and more.

Each Budget VFX (@budgetvfx) collection is priced at $29 and offers 40 HD (1920×1080) QuickTime files that import into any NLE or VFX software; just adjust the Blending/Composite Mode and you are in business. If you are looking for formats larger than 1920×1080 you are going to want to check out the Rampant website, which includes products in 2K, 4K and even 5K resolutions, just not at the $29 price point.

Continue reading

Rampant Design partners with VFX house That Studio 

Orlando — Rampant Design Tools  has entered into a strategic partnership with That Studio, a global, online production and visual effects studio founded by Kanen Flowers and Alan Edward Bell. As a result, Rampant Design Tools is rebranding, and refocusing its entire library of practical VFX elements for filmmakers, editors and visual effects artists.

Beginning immediately, Rampant will offer its drag and drop QuickTime elements in two distinct and targeted product categories: Indie Essentials and Studio Essentials.

“Over the years, Kanen Flowers and That Studio have built a large and loyal following in the indie filmmaking community. His fans look to him for advice and guidance on the crowded, and often times, confusing marketplace for tools for filmmakers,” said Sean Mullen, president and founder of Rampant Design Tools. “Partnering with Kanen is a significant opportunity for Rampant Design Tools to reach this vast community of users, and give them the tools they need to get their projects done. Kanen has deep roots and experience with this market, so our new relationship will be a big win for our users.”

The first of the new collections, called Indie Essentials, will be marketed and sold by That Studio and will offer libraries of QuickTime elements targeted at the indie filmmaker and freelance artist/editor who require accessible, affordable high-quality VFX elements.

studio-flash-transitions copy

The second of the new collections launched by Rampant, called Studio Essentials, will be marketed, sold and supported by Rampant, and will offer libraries of high quality, ultra high resolution (5K, 4K, 2K) QuickTime elements designed for the stringent, high-resolution requirements of higher end post production and Hollywood studios.

Both companies will jointly create and introduce new products over the next year.

Aharon Rabinowitz is the director of content and communities for Red Giant and had this to say about the new partnership: “No matter how good editing, motion graphics and VFX software gets, the one thing you’ll always need is good source — there’s just no substitute for practical effects.  I’ve used this stuff in some of my most time sensitive projects, and have been really proud of the results.”

Indie Essentials are high quality, practical effects designed to enhance any independent film or project, instantly creating impressive visual effects. Kanen will tap his knowledge and expertise as an indie filmmaker, as well as his broad following in the community, to market and sell the Indies Essentials line of products.

All Indie Essentials files are high-quality visual effects, including QuickTime files (up to 2K) and are compatible with industry-popular post production software, including Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects, Nuke, Avid and many more.

Indie Essentials delivers almost 100GB of content, with elements such as: 2k Snow; 2k Dust and Dirt; 2k Embers, 2k Sparks; 2k Fog and 2k Smoke; Cinematic Flares; Creature Kit (Eyes, Mouths, Wounds and creature textures!); Muzzle Flashes; Dirt and Grunge; Grunge Mattes; Overlays and Transitions; Cinematic Music; Sound Effects; and more.

Al Mooney, senior product manager, professional video editing for Adobe added, “That Studio has quickly become recognized as a forward-thinking, modern and very global organization that values independent film. Indie Essentials provides world class tools to filmmakers on a budget to allow them to create the highest quality productions. These tools, along with tight integration to our Creative Cloud toolset, in particular with Adobe Premiere Pro CC,  provides filmmakers with unlimited possibilities to create and edit films.”

Studio Essentials include Rampant Design Tools entire library of high-end, ultra high resolution elements, including the Rampant Cinema Series 5K, Rampant Broadcast Series 4K, Rampant Production Series 2K, and Rampant Essentials 2K drives. Studio Essentials delivers two complete volumes of elements and offer editors and visual effects artists optimal flexibility, quality and value. Sean Mullen continues to tap his expertise as a high-end VFX artist, whose work included Hollywood and television productions such as Charmed, Ally McBeal, NCIS, Felicity, Nip/Tuck, Idle Hands, Lake Placid and Any Given Sunday.

next-gen-for-editors copy

Studio Essentials includes thousands of 5K effects, and all of the Studio Essentials are available in 2K, 4K and 5K.  Studio Essentials are available on USB 3.0 drives, or users can select the 2K and 4K elements as downloads if preferred.  Rampant is also offering the Next Gen For Editors sample pack which includes 10 effects from each volume in 4K for under $100. Some of the elements offered in Studio Essentials include: Studio Fire; Studio Dust, Embers and Sparks; Studio Smoke; Studio Snow; Studio Flash Transitions; Studio Bokeh; Studio Reflections; Studio Mattes; Studio Light Transitions; Studio Light Overlays; Studio Blast Transitions; Studio Impact Lights.