Any After Effects artist knows that a plug-in is rarely used alone, and
many artists have their own recipes for creating signature looks.
DigiEffects Fantazm, then, could be called a new spice rack, one with
powerful and unique flavors, for the motion graphics chef.
This collection of 36 plug-ins for After Effects (or programs like
Apple Final Cut Pro that can host AE plug-ins) includes some that are
immediately useful, like "Blueprint," which can make a clip look like a
blueprint with a paper texture, or-with some tweaking-give it an
infrared or parchment look. "Color By Numbers," another plug-in,
posterizes and outlines the colors in a clip.
Like salt and pepper, these plug-ins work best when mixed with others.
Blueprint, for example, could be combined with additional noise and
texture filters for creating an old film look, while Color By Numbers
can be used with a brush-stroke filter for an effective painted look.
Other plugs in this set, though, are more subtle in their effects.
"PixxyAudio" will convert the audio track of a clip into a visible
wave, or it can control other Fantazm plugs by feeding the audio data
to them. "PixxyExotic" is ideal for creating the look of a really weak
analog TV signal. "PixxyTopo" can extrude a layer into 3D space based
on pixel luminosity. (Note that it doesn’t extrude it into After
Effects’ own 3D space.)
But like any potent collection of spices, DigiEffects’ plug-ins must be
used sparingly. They are all capable of producing beautifully rendered
frames, but they do so at their own leisurely pace. I tested this
package on a new aluminum Powerbook G4 1.33 GHz with 1.25 Gb of RAM;
response was fair and usable, but a top-speed dual G5 would be
necessary in a busy environment.
Like many third-party plug-in collections, this suite makes you stop
and scratch your head and say, "Wow, cool… wonder when I’d use that."
Like cooking, a certain amount of experimental playtime must always be
invested in order to tease out the full potential of the plug-in and
fully integrate it into one’s digital kitchen. Fantazm’s learning curve
is no different; take comfort that it’s time well spent, and that the
meal is worth the wait.