There are things that go well together. Peanut Butter and Jam, Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Syrup and Media Composer and Continuum. I’ve said it before, that I can’t really remember a time of using Media Composer without having my main toolkit by my side. Most MC editors will still always remember Continuum being included when they upgraded to Symphony back in the day, which I believe was Continuum version 8. To give you an idea, Boris Continuum Complete 9, was released on March 20, 2014, according to my good friend Wikipedia, so you’re looking at probably in 2011/2012 for the release of Continuum 8, which means that Media Composer editors have been working pretty extensively with Continuum for over ten years now, and the package just keeps getting better and better. With Particle Illusion, Primatte Keyer, Title Studio, Beauty Studio, Integrated Mocha Tracking, and so much more, this really is a one stop shop for just about anything you might need to do in Media Composer, without having to export your footage to After Effects. So, the big question is, where does Boris FX go from here? Well, Continuum (no longer BCC) 2022 has just been released, and there’s even more to love about the best plug-in package for Media Composer editors. Let’s check it out!
When it comes to Boris FX products, you should know by now, I just say subscribe….and I hate subscription plans, but the cost is just one you can’t beat. Media Composer editors, many of which are still under the impression that the cost is not justifiable, can subscribe to Continuum 2022 for $495 for the year. That’s $41.25 US a month. If you do two complex tracking or keying jobs in a year, you can easily charge your client the cost of the subscription, and get all the point updates (including major .5 updates) that will become available throughout the year. The monthly subscription, compared to buying Continuum outright, would give you access to the effects and all updates through three years, for less than the price as a flat out purchase. There’s no reason why, if you are serious about your end product, can’t justify $42 per month.
I always think to myself, “What’s the team going to do this year, to improve on what they have done last year”, and this year is really no different. It might seem like there are no “huge” feature updates, but all the smaller updates combine to make this year’s release another “must have”.
BCC+ IS WHERE IT’S AT!
In Continuum 2021, we were introduced to the Continuum + effects. What they were, at the time, was a group of 82 effects that were ported over from DFT’s effects, when Boris FX purchased the company. What you got was…… “Eighty-two new 100% OpenCL accelerated filters for coloring, lighting, camera lens and film stock emulation, and more. Three brand new categories and roughly 1000 new presets. All of the new filters are fully HDR compliant and include a new FX Editor preset browser and custom preset generator with OCIO color management tools and the ability to edit parameters from directly inside the browser.” Now, that’s all fine and good, but there were a few issues. The big one was no Mocha support, via the Pixel Chooser. So in 2022, these effects have gotten a lot of love, and it’s important to understand why. The reason is simple. They are the future of Continuum. Now, I don’t mean those specific effects, but the BCC”+” effects are what the current effects will eventually morph into, beginning with Beauty Studio in this release. I asked Peter McAuley, the Product Manager for Continuum why editors need to be excited about the BCC+ effects and he told me “I think editors and compositors alike will enjoy the benefits of the new BCC + architecture which includes full GPU support yielding faster processing times, the redesigned PixelChooser integrated masking system with mocha and the FX Editor which provides users with an interactive visual method of selecting and customizing effect presets. “
Okay, so we know BCC+ is where it’s at, but where does that now put us with the effects inside of Continuum 2022. Well, we now have the first effect “ported” over to the new “+” architecture, as I mentioned before, Beauty Studio, which means that more goodness will be coming over future releases to get more of the standard continuum effects, “flipped over”. One thing that I’m sure you know, if you’ve read any of my Continuum reviews, you’ll know that the team is never content with adding effects, and then forgetting about them.
MOCHA, MY GOOD FRIEND
My biggest issue with the “+” effects when they were first added was that there was no Mocha integration, which made many of them trickier to use in Media Composer, when it came to tracking them in your shots. Well, I’m glad to say that with the 2022 release, the team has added an updated Pixel Chooser to all the effects across continuum INCLUDING in most of the new “+” effects, which was my biggest gripe when they were first added.
Also, speaking of Mocha, even though you might not notice it, it does get updates in Continuum (and Sapphire for that matter), to keep it up to date. Keep in mind, you’re still getting the stripped down version of Mocha, Mocha Continuum, but having it updates with the new Dope Sheet Enhancements (slide all keyframes, zooming tools and big performance improvements), RGB channel section for tracking and in the viewport, OCIO V2 and much more, this is still an important feature update that might largely go unnoticed.
EFFECTS, EFFECTS, EFFECTS
Come on, what Continuum release would you have, if there weren’t new effects included, and this release has six new blur effects added including
Simple, straightforward, yet tunable blurring with quick performance
BCC+ Channel Blur
Create subtle or extremely noticeable color separations with per channel adjustable blur amounts!
BCC+ Channel Blur YUV
Take the Channel Blur effect, and throw in the ability to blur the luminance of the shot, and you’ve now got adjustable color space amounts, both for subtle image restoration / noise suppression work and for more stylized washed out / degraded color looks!
BCC+ Directional Blur
This one really showed me what the + effects can really do, Directional Blur. Pretty straightforward. I dropped the effect on, cranked the blur up, grabbed the direction parameter and swung it around, and the system handled it no problem, soooooo, I thought I’d take the standard BCC Directional Blur and do the same thing. I thought my poor system was going to croak. Fans start spinning up, the system is stuttering trying to keep up….it wasn’t even close. “+” blew away the standard effect by a long shot!
BCC+ Smear Blur
I really liked this one. You can blur, zoom, bend, twist and even create a “tornado” look to your footage. Very cool
BCC+ Prism Blur
This is a better quality “Prism Blur” to its standard BCC counterpart which gets you stylized color separation combined with geometric/smeary blurs.
Keep in mind that these new blur effects are 100% GPU, with CPU fallback if necessary
You can’t mention effects without mentioning presets, and two effects in particular have received a ton of new presets, and they are two of the standout effects for in in the “+” effects category. First, BCC+ Film Stocks has gotten 60 new movie “Looks” for you to quickly add to your footage, and probably my favorite effect in “+”, BCC+ Lights has received 50 new glass style gobos to add to the already massive collection.
Speaking of Presets, we’re now going to talk about another “newer” and awesome tool in the “+” effects, and that is the FX Editor. Not to be confused with the FX Browser, which is only used to preview presets that you might want to use, the FX Editor is designed to create those presets in a very visual way. It’s also gotten some love in the new Continuum 2022 with an update to the UI’s look with a much cleaner and flatter look. You can now also save and load your workspaces, and there’s better preview control for previewing Over Black, Over Gray, Over White, Over Checkerboard, and Straight RGB. If you’re not using the FX Editor, you really should. I got my first look at it with Boris FX’s Optics, and loved it, and am really glad it’s made the transition to Continuum.
Particle Illusion really needed its own section here, as there have been a couple of major enhancements that really take particle work in Media Composer to the next level. Whether you want the particles to enhance a title, or use them to illuminate a lower third, particle work in Media Composer has never been easier, and two major updates to Particle Illusion will help you even further. The main new feature is fluid dynamics. At its core, what fluid dynamics is, is the way gases and liquids flow and swirl as they move. Now, you might be thinking…………what does that have to do with particles. Well, think of the particles you’re creating, not flowing through a vacuum, like they have done before. Think of them floating through an actual atmosphere that would have air (or water for that matter), being able to have influence over it. That is fluid dynamics at its core. The feature itself is ridiculously cool, and super simple to apply. It’s included in the Force parameter, and once it’s turned on, it’s on for any future forces that are added. Then, it’s time to play with it, and tweak it as you like, until you have the look you want. Here’s a quick look at it below, in Particle Illusion AVX.
The other big Particle Illusion feature enhancement is the ability to save entire scenes as emitter library entries. Now, what the heck does that mean? Well, in the past, you could create very cool particle emitters, but the problem was they were just that. The emitter. If you had created any looks or animations using Forces or Deflections, they were not saved with the emitter, so you’d have to constantly re-create those elements, any time you added that particle to a scene. Well, not anymore. Now you can save the emitter, and all the other parameters added to your scene, as a “scene” in the emitter library.
IS IT WORTH YOUR MONEY
In two words, 100% YES! One thing that drives me insane to read in forums like the Avid Editors of Facebook, is when editors are posting questions like “SpectraMatte is not doing ABC for me….what should I do?” or “I’m having this, that or the other problem with Avid’s built-in Motion tracker. Can someone help me?” Something important to keep in mind is that, other than Title+, Once a feature in Media Composer, especially those very legacy features, have been added (effects specifically), they never get updated. Titler+ is getting updated because it’s a dog, and Media Composer only has it for a larger than HD titling option. Or does it? This is where a third party company like Boris FX and Continuum come into play. Need Titling in larger than HD projects? No problem, Title Studio is ready to go. Need top of the line keying? Primatte Studio is ready to go. Need motion tracking for a project you’re working on? How about the built in Mocha planar tracking (which is WORLD’s better than point tracking) of Corner Pin Studio. The Continuum team have not only included awesome “single” effects, but “studio” effects for jobs that require more than one effect. Beauty Studio, Title Studio, Corner Pin Studio and Primatte Studio. Continuum has just about every effect and/or transition you could ever need, and if you’re on the subscription plan, yearly updates keep the good times rolling. If you’re a Media Composer editor who’s serious about your projects, you’re doing your clients a major disservice by not having Continuum as part of your toolkit. It is easily the best collection of plug-ins available for Media Composer on the market today! All of the features above are available now, and you can check out a free demo of Continuum at www.borisfx.com
Boris FX is not paying me to write this review. Boris FX does, however, sponsor my tutorial series on my personal YouTube channel. This does not change my opinion of this product in any way. All opinions posted in this article are my own.