For a lot of my After Effects work, I do indeed use a Powermac 9600/233 running OS 8.6. It's the only machine that has the plugins I frequently use. If anything's going to make my renders faster, I'm all for it. But I also tend to regard claims of fast renders the same way I do junk mail containing the phrase, "You May Already Be A Winner!"
Then I got Shine. It's one of the very few plugins I have. Once you read through Trapcode's online manual and do a couple of tutorials, Shine is sinfully easy to understand. In the future, I'll put my mind to more inventive ways to use this plugin. Right now I want to put Shine to the test.
But how to compare Shine to other plugins? I took my inspiration from a tutorial by the that instructor extraordinaire, Brian Maffitt of Total Training. In the days of AE 3.1, the Good Herr Maffitt demonstrated how to make a shine using only AE's Radial Blur filter. Anybody remember a sun with light emanating from the eyes and mouth? That's it.
I started by building my own, highly-simplified version of that sun:
Then I dusted off Herr Maffitt's tutorial and replicated it as best as I could. Here's my Time Layout window:
You'll notice it uses two layers. In order to accomplish this effect, the top layer uses masks, Radial Blur, and the Overlay transfer mode. Then it was time to have Shine create a similar effect using the same image.
Here's my Time Layout window for a comp using the Shine Plugin:
In this comp, there's only one layer. Shine only needs a single layer to do the job of two in the previous comp. "Well, that's a good sign", I thought as I finished.
Then came The Real Test.
It was an afterthought; I almost forgot that I have a Blue ICE board on my steam-powered Mac because it's so tough to use it to its optimum capabilities. Can Shine keep up with ICE? Let's see! Here's my Time Layout window using the ICE'd Light Blast plugin:
Look at that... back to two layers again! Oh, well, since I had two layers on the earlier comp that used the Radial Blur plugin, making a duplicate comp and adjusting the ICE'd plugin controls didn't take long.
After that, I was all set to render. I really had no idea of how long those renders would take. Here's the result, directly from my Render Queue window:
Will You Look At That! It took about 11 minutes to render the comp using the Radial Blur plugin, and only a minute and forty seconds to render the Shine version! And what's more, the comp using Shine - unaccellerated, mind you -- beat the ICE'd render by four seconds!
An unaccellerated Shine comp beats out an ICE'd comp! Now that's fast! How about the quality of the images? Well, here's the Radial Blur render:
Download Radial Blur Sun.mov here
Eeeew! The light looks like it's shining through a cloud of insects! Well, I'll scratch that Radial Blur trick off my list, I guess.
Besides, a render could take all day on my machine. How does the ICE'd render look? Here it is:
Download ICE Sun.mov here
Hey, that's not bad. At least that cloud of cloud of insects went away. It would nice if there was a little motion in that volumetric light, however. Well, how about the Shine render? Let's take a look:
Download Shine Sun.mov here
Wow! Just the right touch of motion! With no tweaking of any additional Shine parameters, it not only looks better than the ICE'd version, it's faster!
Well, I'm sold on Shine. And for tightwads like myself, Shine's low price tag and fast render times make it, well... shine. Now it's time to put my mind to more inventive ways to use this plugin. Feel free to drop by the Trapcode forum at CreativeCOW.