All That And Then Some.
This admission is an unusual way to start a product review, but I have to begin by saying that I've been a little intimidated by this software product. In the fall I was asked to review Boris Continuum Complete version 7. As a long time user of Boris Final Effects Complete I assumed that BCC would be a similar product, just with a different set of filters. Well, now, months later I've finally begun to find enough time to get my head around BCC 7 and hopefully get over the intimidation I've been feeling over its depth and sophistication. So much to learn, so many, many, many capabilities. It would be impractical to attempt to discuss all of the package's filters and transitions, so let me provide an overview.
The features in Boris Continuum Complete 7, in a single package, provide morphs, masks, 3D, shatters, displacements, particles, generators, video corrections/simulations, art effects, keys, wipes, glares, glints, glows and more -- everything ranging from essential, to useful, to curious. Like me, you may begin by asking how could a collection of plug-ins be so extensive and why are there nearly 200 plug-ins in a single package? To understand why it's this large let me start by offering the example of "rays," a fairly common effect available from multiple plug-in developers. Rays, in case you didn't know this, are one of those simple things that clients routinely ooh and ahh over when an animated ray effect sweeps behind their logo or title. Add the right swell of music and you have one of animation's simplest "money shots." Well Boris BCC doesn't have just one rays effect… it has nine. They are: Rays Cartoon, Rays Puffy, Rays Radiant Edges, Rays Radiant Spotlight, Rays Ring, Rays Ripply, Rays Streaky, Rays Textured, Rays Wedge. While the names are more or less explanatory, it's only when you begin playing with them that you start to appreciate the differences, some subtle, some not so subtle.
This capture is a single frame of a combination of multiple layers of the Radiant Rays plug-in, one of BCC 7's nine varieties of Rays effects.
BCC seems to duplicate several of the already supplied filters which come with After Effects out of the box -- plug-ins including "Drop Shadow," "Lens Flare," "Glow," "Noise" and a few others -- so what's the purpose of having a BCC version? Quite simply it's more than just the name. BCC effects add a substantial depth of functionality to these everyday filters. Each comes with a large range of pre-sets, ranging from several on some to pre-sets numbering in the mid-twenties on others. The other big plus is that each BCC filter supplements its functionality with the ability to save and, of course, later load your own specific parameters. In the case of something as simple as a drop shadow you're able to make permanent pre-sets of opacity, clipping, distance, intensity, angle, color, softness, blur and gamma. And this is just for the BCC drop shadow effect. Is using a preset any easier or faster than copying and pasting keyframes? Perhaps a toss-up as to which is easier when working within a single timeline. But take effects across multiple timelines or especially across multiple projects and such a simple thing as saving and re-loading your own custom-built pre-sets becomes a game changer.
What's the biggest difference in BCC 7?In addition to several new filters, BCC 7 is fully 64-bit aware when installed with After Effects CS5 or Premiere Pro CS5 on Mac or Windows machine. 64-bit operation, simply put, means that all BCC 7 plug-ins operate faster. Much faster. A 32bit version will automatically install for those who have not upgraded to a 64bit operating system or to the CS5 version of After Effects.
Compare ModeWhere appropriate several BCC 7 filters have a "compare" feature which provides side by side before/after views or split screen top/bottom layer views. While helpful when judging the tweaking of an effect, it becomes an essential tool for the 3-Way Color Correction plug-in, allowing you to view one image while fine tuning the other to match it. I'm going to leave the explanations of how the individual plug-ins work to the experts. There are numerous tutorials here on the COW and on the Boris FX website. In the few cases where you may want more depth, each of the plug-ins has a built-in PDF-based help system one button away.
Each of the plug-ins has a built-in PDF-based help system, one button away.
So many plug-ins, so many ways to jump in.BCC7's complexity and sophistication extends to the multiple ways you can acquire it -- as a whole or just its individual "units." The Boris Continuum Complete 7 "suite" for After Effects is $995. For $1,095, $100 more, you can get both BCC 7 and its sister product Final Effects Complete 6. There is some overlap between the two, but not enough to keep the package deal from being a sound value.
The "units" are families of related filters, sold for $99 to $399. There are currently 18 BCC units available and, should you decide later to upgrade to the full BCC, the cost of your units will be credited toward the full suite. Or you can get essentially everything Boris makes, the "Boris Box Set." On the Mac side this includes BCC and FEC FxPlug-ins for Apple Final Cut Studio, BCC AE and FEC AE for Adobe, FEC AVX for Avid, Boris XML Transfer for Final Cut Pro to After Effects, Boris AAF Transfer for Final Cut Pro Sequences to Avid Media Composer, Boris Red and the Media 100 non-linear editing system, for $1,995. For PC users the Boris Box Set is BCC AE and FEC AE for Adobe, BCC for Vegas Pro 10, FEC AVX for Avid, Boris Red and Boris Blue. Full details are on the Boris FX website. While the Box Set approach is clearly not for everyone, if you're starting from scratch or changing platforms, the bargain should be irresistible.
Take the 14 day trialGetting to know Boris Continuum Complete, and for that matter all Boris products, is made simple by a 14 day, free trial period. In contrast to many other trial versions, Boris trials are the real deal -- no blocking of the save function and no "x" over the render -- instead the actual, fully functioning product for two weeks. The folks at Boris have good reason for being so liberal with the try-outs, however. Once you've had them to use, even for a short period of time, you'll be hard pressed to not want at least a few of the units in your After Effects bag of tricks. I feel like I'm just getting started with BCC 7 and I already know that this is one 'Swiss Army Knife' I'm planning on bringing out every chance I get. # # #