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Review: Red Giant Universe

Harnessing the Power of Plug-ins

There are probably hundreds of plug-ins on the market today to accomplish virtually any task, from elaborate spins, streaks, and kaleidoscope mosaics to frame-rate conversions and depth-of-field adjustments. Thanks to fast processors and more capable GPUs, all of these things and much more are possible on the desktop. This is, no doubt, a great thing for the most creative folks among us.

The ultimate question remains, however: How much of a hassle is it to access and utilize these most awesome of all creative tools?

The tools available with a free subscription to Red Giant Universe include dozens of transitions, glows, blurs, and distortion tools, like the classy Glo Fi plug-in seen frequently in movie trailers. 

The fact is if a plug-in (or any software for that matter) is too inconvenient to access or too convoluted to use, it will be a waste of money — regardless of what may be prodigious capabilities. Red Giant Universe tackles this issue head-on by placing the power of some of the industry’s most effective and useful plug-ins within easy operational and economical reach.

The free Masked Mosaic can help if you're working undercover and have something to hide!

The Universe concept is consistent with a growing community-oriented model these days, whereby users are encouraged to offer suggestions and provide meaningful feedback. Once registered, which is free, the filmmaker or graphic-effects artist has access to a wide range of no-cost and paid FX tools. The free tools include many popular blurs, glows, and transitions, so this is a good introduction to Universe for most users.

The paid content is more extensive, including the sci-fi plug-in Holomatrix.

Another paid tool, Retrograde, simulates the look of vintage 8mm and 16mm film.

If you choose to pony up and access the site’s premium content, the range of available tools expands exponentially, with notable offerings like Knoll Light Factory — my long-time personal favorite for creating lens flares — and Holomatrix, a particularly effective tool for producing a sci-fi look suggestive of a hologram.

As a serious fan and rabid user of Magic Bullet, I was initially confused by the Universe offerings. What Red Giant products are included? Which are not? Magic Bullet, which I consider indispensable for post-production regardless of genre, is not currently offered inside Universe, but Knoll Light Factory is. Likewise Holomatrix, which had been available previously only for Adobe After Effects, is now a part of the Universe library, with 35 built-in presets that can be applied across multiple editing platforms.

Same story for Retrograde, a remarkable and effective tool that can be used to mimic the look and feel of 8mm and 16mm film. It, too, is offered as part of Universe’s premium tool set.

The venerable Knoll Light Factory has a new lease on life inside Universe — 90 KLF presets are available now in the EZ version, eliminating much of the labor associated with setting many key frames from scratch.

Add it all up — at a quite reasonable premium subscription fee starting at only $10 per month, Red Giant Universe offers an impressive range of tools for the filmmaker and graphic-artist professional.

10 Comments

Categories: Editing, Review, Technology, VFX/Animation
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  • http://www.focuspulling.com FocusPulling (.com)

    Is this a sponsored review? The only “What’s Not” you mention is the lack of more Red Giant software.

    • John Stanowski

      Kinda does sound like a paid gig. That Knoll Light Factory line was the first to give it away.

      • Anonymous

        No, this is not a sponsored review and Red Giant is not an advertiser. Just a case of a reviewer being very enthusiastic about a product …

        • John Stanowski

          Okay, Studio Daily integrity intact! I keep meaning to check out Universe myself, but I’m not diggin’ the subscription thing.

          • Yerdl the Turtle

            You don’t have to subscribe. That’s just one of the options.

          • John Stanowski

            Yes, I know. But that’s exactly what Adobe said when Creative Cloud started.

          • Yerdl the Turtle

            ??? I don’t remember CC ever, ever EVER having a buyout option. Not saying Universe is all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips, but the buyout option has always been there and still is for Universe.

          • John Stanowski

            CC ran for a year as an “option”. Then suddenly they sprung the bad news that it would then be the “only option”. Anyway, I hope Red Giant doesn’t do the same thing. I LOVE their plugins. Don’t we all?

        • http://www.focuspulling.com FocusPulling (.com)

          The initial suspicion was founded upon user experience, which quickly reveals a buggy program. Credible reviews outta spend time with software, otherwise it’s just a paraphrased press release.

          If you Google around on Universe bugs, you’ll understand there are problems.

  • Sean Safreed

    Thanks Studio Daily for the nice review! We like what Barry had to say but Red Giant had nothing to do with the review nor do we advertise on Studio Daily.

    I am not aware of any issues with version 1.01. There were definitely problems with the pre-version 1.0 product and we have had a few issues with installation through our Link tool. But every user I have talked to praised Universe for the stability and speed.

    Please point us to any discussion about outstanding issues, and we will try to analyze the problem and schedule a fix. Our perspective at Red Giant is that Universe is a service. As such, we want the highest satisfaction for this service that we can provide.

    Sean Safreed
    Red Giant Co-founder
    Universe Business Manager