Continued from Part I
Effects Suite 11 from Red Giant is a group of nine effects plugins that will provide everyone from After Effects veterans to novice designers with newfound creativity. These effects have been used in feature films such as Avatar and Super 8 and in television shows for years.
In total there are nine separate packages with over 70 different tools. The packages are Image Lounge, PlaneSpace, Text Anarchy, ToonIt, Warp, Composite Wizard, Psunami, Holomatrix, and Knoll Light Factory. To do this product justice, I am breaking this review up into several parts. In this segment I will look at ToonIt, Text Anarchy, and Warp.
ToonIt is an interesting plugin that allows you to take your footage and convert it into a cartoon. It comes as a set of five plugins that give you various methods to apply the effect to your project. The five are Roto Toon, Outlines Only, Goth, Blacklight Edges, and Heat Vision. You can access them via the Effects menu under Red Giant ToonIt.
In my opinion Roto Toon is the plugin that you will use most out of this group. It has the ability to meld internal rotoscoping and edge detection to create a total cartoon effect. You can control color fields through nine rotoscoping styles. There are also three artistic effect groups. As far as outline effects, there are two traditional ones and four more that are much more stylized.
ToonIt is really easy to use. First you choose the footage and open the work into your preview window. Then you select Roto Toon from the Effects menu and drop it on. Right away your footage has a cartoon look.
From there you can make modifications to your composition by changing from Flat Shaded, a smoother look, to Flat Detailed, a much rougher look. You can also change the Comic Outlines, Strength settings, thickness, sensitivity, and more.
The other plugins within this system have more narrow effects. The Outlines Only isolates on outlines in the film. Blacklight Edges lets your images appear as if edges have been placed under a black light. The Goth plugin gives high contrast and reduces the image into three color values. Heat Vision creates an effect that looks like infrared radiation.
As I said at the beginning, Roto Tune is really the most functional of the plugins. Outlines Only could be useful too. The others may have some uses in specific circumstances, but to me they have a little too harsh of a look.
Text Anarchy is a set of 15 plugins that you can use manipulate text in your After Effects projects. Included in this package are three shape plugins, four design plugins, and eight text plugins. You also get a lot of control over the ability to animate and control your effect.
The three shape plugins include GridSquares that makes animating geometric shapes very easy. The goal here is to create sophisticated backgrounds for use with your text animation. GridLines works much the same way but now on animating random lines, much like you might see on a broadcast lead-in. HairLines create random flowing lines of many shapes, sizes, and lengths.
The four design plugins include Smooth Tiler, which sews together images that were not necessarily supposed to be tiled together seamlessly. This works great with abstract images to create unique backgrounds. The Path Distort plugin distorts an image along the trail of a path. You can create a texture, then animate it along a shape, an “S” for example.
Gradient and Gradient path are similar in that they both create gradients. The Gradient effect can create Linear, Circular, Wrapped, or Square gradients. Gradient Path puts the gradient along the path of a shape. If you have a star shape, for example, it will put the gradient along the edge of the star.
The Text plugin includes Cool Text to animate each letter in a string. Font Changer animates the type of font being used. Text Hacker converts text from one string to another and Text Spiral applies text along the flow of a path. Type On simulates characters being typed on a computer.
Text Matrix simulates text raining down on a screen. Text Grid will fill a background with text characters or symbols. Screen Text will animate text scrolling up a screen and Text Spiral applies text to a path.
In addition to all of the plugins, there is a lot of creative control that you get to manipulate the fonts and characters, the colors, rotational capabilities, kerning, spacing, control of paths and randomness, and other text options.
When putting together a professional-looking video, the ability to create text and the backgrounds that it appears with is essential for the credibility of your work. I like that you can integrate shapes and objects in with your text. Text Anarchy really gives you a lot of tools to work with to meet this end. It is very easy to work with and has a lot of flexibility in how you can manipulate the words in your production.
Warp is a set of plugins that give you the ability to create reflections, shadows, corner pins, and glows quickly and easily. There are six plugins in Warp: RG Shadow, RG Reflection, RG Corner Pin, Radium Glow, Radium Glow Lite, and Radium Glow Edges. These plugins were created because of all the requests from those who had seen the Image Lounge Real Shadows plugin and now wanted more features and more control.
RG Shadow gives you the ability to create a shadow of some object in your footage. You set up the object that you want to cause the shadow. You then set up the baseline start, the baseline end, and the slant at which you want the shadow to occur. Next you set up the direction you want the lighting to come from. From there you have a lot of control over the softness, fade, and other features.
Much like RG Shadow, RG Reflection uses baseline start and end as well as height/slant. Since you are working with a reflection, there is no light source, but you still have the ability to adjust the softness fade, reflection opacity, and more.
RG Corner Pin gives you the ability to take a rectilinear shape and pin the corners to a rectangular shape that resides below the timeline. What this means is that if you have a portrait hung on a wall that is at an angle and you want to substitute another image, you just place the four corners of that image to the portrait frame, and the Corner Pin plugin will handle the transform for you.
Radium Glow creates a brightness map on your footage, with glowing areas created around the brightest parts of the image. The brighter the point, the more glow is applied. This means that you can add glowing lighting effects to your footage for creative effects. You can mask out areas to target just certain points, control opacity, and much more. Radium Glow Lite removes the advanced controls to reduce the weight of the effect on your project, and Radium Glow Edges provides more glow around the edges of an object so if you have, say, bubbles in the scene, the glow will be more pronounced around the edges of the bubbles than in their middles.
The Warp plugin has a lot of really great capabilities. LIke the other items in this suite it is very easy to use, and while some of the individual effects may have limited use depending on the work you do, they will be there when you need them.
While ToonIt will have limited use, it was fun to work with and easy to use. I really like both Text Anarchy and Warp, especially Text Anarchy and all of the flexibility it provides. I really liked working with it and can see that I will have a lot of need for it going forward. I continue to be pleased with the plugins contained within Effects Suite 11.