Add an Amazing Level of Creative Sophistication

While once limited to just compositing programs, visual effects plug-ins are fast becoming a mainstay of many editing systems. Once we started using our Sapphire plug-ins on our Final Cut Pro system, there was no going back to just using them with After Effects. Now the folks at GenArts have made their popular Sapphire plug-in set available in the Avid AVX format for use on any of the newer Avid nonlinear editing systems. There’s no way to cover the breadth of effects you can achieve with the Sapphire plug-ins in one short review- for that you’ll need to check out the company Web site, which provides lists and examples of each effect. For this review, however, we’ll just concentrate on what’s new in the AVX plug-ins, and how they interact with the Avid Media Composer system.
Complete Access
Within the Avid NLE (in this case, Media Composer 2.5.3), the Sapphire plug-in comes up in a window that provides complete access to each parameter, as well as a separate window for adjusting key frames in both Bezier splines and independent key frames. While the AVX interface is not as clean as the original After Effects version, it’s very easy to use and customize each effect.
Inside the Sapphire plug-ins for AVX you’ll find over 190 plug-in effects arranged in nine groups. Two new plug-ins, the Film Damage and Cartoon plug-ins, were particularly impressive, adding either an old film look or a semi-rotoscoped art image to the footage. The many other plug-ins range from the dramatic (Glint Rainbow and Warp Perspective) to the sublimely subtle (such as our favorites, Glow Dark and Clamp Chroma for fine-tuning the shadow and chroma of the signal).
The only thing to keep in mind when using the Sapphire plug-ins on an NLE system is that you’ll encounter fairly long render times. The system overhead caused by the editing program (whether it’s Avid or FCP) will slow render times down. Also, most editing systems (except for the Avid DS remote processing systems) don’t have any kind of network rendering.
Still, these issues are minor points when you consider the power and diversity of the GenArts Sapphire AVX plug-ins. While there are many packages available (see "The Plug-In Guide" on page 22 for the latest), few provide the range and professional quality of the GenArts Sapphire. For those who can afford them, the GenArts Sapphire plug-ins for AVX can bring an amazing level of creative sophistication to your Avid editing system.