Boris FX plug-ins have been around almost as long as NLEs have. Since the very beginning, the company has put out high-quality, customizable 3D transitions for the most popular NLEs, and the Boris family has grown. I’m more of an editor than an effects person. I’ve been learning Adobe After Effects and use it as I need it for the occasional project. But when I have the choice, I’d rather do the same thing in my favorite editing application, Adobe Premiere Pro CS3. That way, I don’t need to have an extra program hogging RAM or need to use any fancy import or export commands to grab my AE comps. So I’m thrilled about one of the latest products from Boris FX, Boris Continuum Complete 5, or BCC 5, for short. Unlike some of the other Boris products, you don’t need to learn a new interface; the software uses your NLE’s interface. The package contains more than 100 filters and video effects. When installed, they will show up in your video effects bin in Adobe Premiere Pro CS3, After Effects, Avid, Apple Final Cut Pro and Motion, as well as in the Autodesk Sparks API and Combustion.
BCC 5 lets you drag and drop the effect or filter on a clip or title, and adjust the parameters in Premiere Pro CS3’s effects control pallet. When you open any of the filter controls, you’ll see "L" and "S" buttons. The "L" button lets you open some handy presets, and "S" saves ones you make yourself. That alone tremendously improves my workflow.
Test Drives on Single- and Dual-Core Systems
Initially I installed BCC 5 on an HP xw8400 Workstation, with dual 3.0 GHz dual-core Xeon CPUs, 4 GB RAM, an ATI X1800XT 512 MB graphics card and a Matrox RT.X2 HD accelerator card. Outside the new quad-core CPU systems [read the full review of the HP xw8400 quad-core on page 10], this is as fast as you can get with dual-cores. For comparison, I also tried BCC 5 on an HP xw8200 with dual 3.4 GHz single-core Xeon CPUs, 2 GB RAM, and my HP notebook, a zd8000 with a P4 3.4 GHz and 1 GB RAM. Most of the effect filters previewed in real-time and renders, generally, were pretty quick. There were a few filters that really slowed things down on the xw8200 and the notebook; you really saw the benefit of the multi-core processors when running the same filters on the more powerful workstations.
With 180 of these filters and effects available, this review warranted a lot of experimentation. I spent hours just dropping filters on video, then combining the filters- this was really a lot of fun- but I’ve only scratched the surface. If I talked in detail about each of the filters, those descriptions alone would fill this magazine for the next six months. As a compromise, I’ll share a few of my favorites.
Favorite Filters
Light Zoom is one of those high-end effects that one would normally turn to After Effects for, to render out and import later into your editing application. This effect illuminates any object with light. I threw this filter on my normal white company logo over a black background. I loaded a preset and instantly had light shining through my logo. It was easy to tweak and I made adjustments to it in Premiere Pro CS3’s effects controls. I easily adjusted the width of the beam, tinted it slightly blue, and then keyframed the light to pan from left to right through the logo. It not only looked stunning, but I finished it in five minutes.
The Cartooner filter is really not at all like the similarly named (and soon to be reviewed here) ToonIt! from Digital Anarchy. The Cartooner filter lets you make pastel/fluorescent/neon highlights appear on edges, reminiscent of those band shots of Dire Straits in their early music video "Money for Nothing," (at the time, in 1986, those were probably done by hand). You can adjust all sorts of parameters, from the colors, thickness, to the amount of regular video that shows through. Go crazy- you can do a lot of artistic things with this filter.
The Emboss filter does pretty much what it says, but goes beyond what Premiere Pro’s own emboss filter can do. In the BCC 5 version, there are many more parameters to adjust, giving you access to a bunch of different looks.
The Scatterizer scatters your video pixels like a fine mist. Using the "niceoverlayeffect" preset, and Adobe’s "Black and White" filter, you can make video look like an animated charcoal drawing.
The Polar Displacement filter is like a fun-house mirror for video. Enough said.
The Light Ray Cartoon, Light Ray Puffy and Light Ray Radiant Edges filters give you additional, interesting ways of changing the mood of your video or even replacing it with squiggles of light.
Anyone who tries BCC 5 will find a lot of useful effects to spur creativity. Mixing and matching the BCC 5 filters with Adobe’s standard filters, or any other you may have, will give you even more possibilities (they really are endless). The features are pretty much identical across the platforms, so if you need to move between After Effects and Avid or Final Cut and Premiere Pro CS3, you’ll feel right at home wherever you’re working. One last bit of advice: I highly recommend you download BCC 5 and take it for a 14-day test drive before you buy. You’ll find yourself experimenting for hours. Once you start working, you may find that this is the only set of NLE plug-ins you need.