If you use effects in your editing timeline (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t), then you’ve come across Boris FX’s Continuum package at some point. Boris Continuum Complete has dropped the Boris and Complete and now simply refers to the package as Continuum 2021. However, they really need to add the Complete back to the name, as what this package has strived to do year after year is make it, really, an all-in-one package that an editor or motion graphics designer can purchase, that will give them a complete set of tools for every job they work on, no matter what its requirements are. Whether it’s a chroma keying job, a particle effect, footage that needs stabilizing, or a stylistic lens flare you want to add to spice up a shot, each year the team at Boris FX strives to make Continuum THE plug-in package of choice, and this year is no exception. It’s Continuum……plus.
Now, you might be wondering what I mean by that. Continuum Plus. Well, it seems as though every year, Boris FX is purchasing a different company to add to the growing catalogue of products they can offer. Imagineer Systems (Mocha) and GenArts (Sapphire) were the two big ones with Silhouette and DFT (Digital Film Tools) to round out the acquisitions. We’ve seen little bits of Mocha end up in both Continuum and Sapphire, but for the most part they have stayed as three separate products. Then came DFT – Digital Film Tools. Now, if you’re not familiar with DFT, here’s a snippet from the press release when they were purchased by Boris FX.
Digital Film Tools (DFT) emerged as an off-shoot of a Los Angeles-based motion picture visual effects facility whose work included hundreds of feature films, commercials, and television shows. The team used their strong practical understanding of photography, film and video editing, and in particular visual effects, to design highly-specialized software.
The Digital Film Tools portfolio includes standalone applications as well as professional plug-in collections for photographers, filmmakers, editors, and colorists. The definitive digital toolbox contains hundreds of realistic filters for optical camera simulation, specialized lenses, film stocks and grain, lens flares, optical lab processes, color correction, keying, and compositing as well as natural light and photographic effects. DFT plug-ins support Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, After Effects, and Premiere Pro; Apple Final Cut Pro X and Motion; Avid Media Composer; and OFX hosts including Foundry Nuke and Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve.
So really, effects designed to look as though they were added “in camera” as opposed to in post. Now, with that being said, you might think that DFT would be getting it’s own product for the different host applications, but that is not the case. DFT is the “Plus” to Continuum 2021. That’s right. Boris FX has added 82 new effects to the Continuum 2021 release, along with a bunch of other enhancements and updates that we’ll talk about in this review. This is the biggest update in Continuum’s history, which is super exciting. As I always do, I like to talk about the cost first, as that’s always something that’s first and foremost on people’s minds.
I’ll admit that I hate subscriptions. They always seem like a rip off, as you’re basically paying for the entire cost of the product over the span of a year, and in many cases you don’t actually have a choice to purchase or subscribe, as most companies have taken that option away, and its subscriptions only. Well, that’s not the case when it comes to Continuum 2021. Looking at the OFX version as an example, as it’s the cheapest version, you’re looking at $695 to purchase outright, or only $195 per year to subscribe to for a year. The other versions, Adobe and AVX prices are relative to the OFX version, where you basically save 66%, or so, off the price to outright own. So if you think about it this way, for the price you would pay to own it outright, you can have it for the next three years with all updates and bug fixes included. That’s a pretty big deal! AND, if you’re reading this review around Boxing Week in 2020, I’m sure there will be an even better deal for you to get! It’s insane how cheap Boris FX’s subscription plan is. I wish all subscription plans were this reasonable! Alright, now let’s take a look at exactly what is new and updated in Continuum 2021
WHAT YOU GET
I thought that it would be important to generally cover what’s included in BCC, and then we can jump into the new features. Continuum is now broken down into twenty-two categories, which is three more than the previous Continuum 2020.5. Keep in mind that one of the categories is “OBSOLETE”, which basically has all the old effects that have been replaced over the years. Why do you need them? Well, you might go back and update an old project that used legacy effects, and Continuum has you covered by not worrying about there being any effect conflicts or missing effects. The three new categories are Grads & Tints, Lens and Optical Diffusion that contain only new “+” effects with the rest of the “+” effects spread out into their “appropriate” category. Let’s take a look at what makes Continuum awesome, before it was “plussed”.
BCC 3D Objects
Title Studio is the clear favorite here. Why? Well, the other effects like Extruded EPS, Extruded Text, etc, can all be created inside of Title Studio, along with credit crawls, lower thirds, and just about anything you can think of text related. Awesome for NLE editors looking for an excellent titler.
BCC Art Looks
Many people overlook Art Looks, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used BCC Halftone in my projects. It’s the triple threat with two “tone” effects you’ll see coming up in the Color & Tone category.
BCC Fast Lens Blur is my favorite here. A nice looking blur that I use when attempting to recreate depth of field green screen backgrounds.
BCC Color & Tone
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used BCC Tritone and Multitone in a project. Simple, straightforward and great with presets!
BCC Film Style
Fast Film Glow, Fast Film Process and Vignette are my go-to’s in this category. FFG is excellent for text and matte elements as well!
BCC Image Restoration
Here’s where the “toolkit” of Continuum comes into play. Need to fix a dead camera pixel? BCC Pixel Fixer. Need to fix some fisheye GoPro footage? BCC Lens Correction. Need to do some skin touch ups? BCC Beauty Studio. So many tools to fix your footage, you probably won’t need to look for any others!
BCC Key & Blend
Primatte Studio. That is all. It handles any green screen job that comes your way. There’s not much to say other than it’s the only tool I use for keying.
BCC Rays Puffy (God Rays), BCC Lens Flare 3D (I can’t count the amount of times I’ve used Digicam Sun DD to simulate the Sun) and BCC Light Sweep (especially for text effects) are the standouts in this category that contain a ton of lighting effects including Glint, Glare, Glitter and Lightning!
BCC Match Move
Corner Pin Studio has now given editors the ability to easily track and corner pin elements into billboards, displays, televisions and just about anything you can think of. Powered, of course, by Mocha!
What can I say here. This used to be a non-used category for me….that is until ParticleIllusion. Some of the absolute most realistic particles you will every see in an NLE OR compositing application can be found here, but more on PI in just a little bit.
BCC Pan and Zoom is my standard for the Ken Burns effect in my NLE. Yes, this look can be easily achieved in compositing applications, but Media Composer is not….image friendly, so this is my gateway to get almost 90% of my images into my NLE!
I’m always looking for cool and simple ways to mess my titles up, and BCC Grunge plays a huge part in that. Simple to use and for me to apply to titles, Grunge, along with Edge Grunge are a lot of fun to play around with!
Every effects package needs a Fractal Noise effect, and Continuum is no different, and the Textures category is where we find it.
BCC Jitter is where it’s at in this category. Whether it’s a little camera bump, or an earthquake, it’s super simple to get rolling with the presets, before you build your own!
Whether you like transition packages or not, BCC Transitions is category is a bit of a surprise for me. I say surprise because I always hated these effects, and then something happened….they started to grow on me. It started with BCC Swish Pan then moved to BCC Cross Zoom and then BCC Lens Flash. With 48 transitions to choose from, there’s something in this category for everyone.
Well, I don’t do any VR projects, so I can’t really comment on this category.
The Warp category is, again, something I use on titles all the time. BCC Wave is a perfect example of that!
Okay. I’ve listed off maybe 20-30 legacy effects that are the highlights of each category in Continuum 2021. I haven’t even talked about new effects yet. Keep in mind that along with the effects I’ve mentioned is built-in Mocha tracking, integrated Beat Reactor, FX Browser, integrated Geometric adjustments, and a ton of other “under the hood” features in Continuum. Let’s now talk about the new features of Continuum 2021, and what makes this update different from before!
WHAT’S NEW IN 2021
Well, how about eighty-two new effects. Yes, that’s right. Eighty-two. These effects are all OpenCL accelerated and, as mentioned earlier, are added to almost all the current Continuum categories plus three new ones – BCC Grads & Tints, BCC Lens and BCC Optical Diffusion. What also makes these effects unique is that they are not only HDR compliant but they have a new FX Editor preset browser and custom preset generator that includes OCIO color management tools. You can now, also, edit effect parameters from directly inside the FX editor, which is not available in the FX Browser.
All of these new effects are tagged as being “BCC+” effects, and they are really designed to be a “Cinematographer’s Toolkit” with their purpose and design to create unique cinematic looks that you’d find in feature films like Blade Runner, Back to the Future and Titanic. So what are the new filters?
- BCC Art Looks:
- Borders, Color Infrared, Color Shadow, Harris Shutter, Infrared, Night Vision, X-Ray
- BCC Blur:
- BCC Color and Tone:
- Black and White, DeFog, Develop, Enhancing, Grade, High Contrast, Kelvin, Low Contrast, Polarizer, Selective Saturation, Shadows/Highlights
- BCC Film Style:
- Bleach Bypass, Color Processing, Day for Night, Film Stocks, Looks, Three Strip Color
- BCC Grads & Tints:
- Color Gradient, Color Spot, Colorize Gradient, Dual Gradient, Gels, ND Gradient, Photographic, Radial Tint, Sepia, Skin Tone, Split Tone, Sunset, Tint
- BCC Image Restoration:
- DeBand, DeBlock
- BCC Key & Blend:
- Color Paste, Edge Composite, Holdout Composite, Math Composite, Non-Additive Mix, Optical Dissolve
- BCC Lens:
- Camera Shake, Chromatic Aberration, DeFringe, Lens Distortion, Radial Exposure, Wide Angle Lens
- BCC Lights:
- Ambient Light, Chroma bands, Eye Light, Glow, Glow Darks, Glow Edges, Ice Halos, Key Light, Lens Flare, Light, Overexpose, Rays, Reflector, ReLight, Star, Streaks
- BCC Optical Diffusion:
- Center Spot, Depth of Field, Diffusion, Double Fog, Fog, Frost, Halo, Mist, Net, Rack Focus, Silk, Split Field
- BCC Perspective:
- BCC Textures:
What I love about these new effects is that they are taken from real world cinematic situations that you might want to enhance, both big and small, and that’s where this package shines. For example, light. Adding lighting elements to a scene can be a pain at the simplest, and a migraine at the worst. If you’re looking at adding lighting elements to a scene that didn’t have them before, you’ll find yourself doing this task in a compositing application, or very painstakingly in your NLE with a ton of layers and the process could take hours to get right. Not with BCC+. Here’s a quick walkthrough of how you would do that here.
Apply the Effect
Step into Effects Mode and click on the FX Editor button. You’ll notice, if you’re familiar with it, that the FX editor is Boris Optics designed for your NLE.
Choose the Gobo/lighting preset you want to go with. You’ll notice there are a ton of them, and you can adjust every parameter of them, based on the reference frame you’re parked on in the FX Editor. Keep in mind that you can play through the entire clip you’ve applied the effect to, and you’re not limited to just a single frame.
Apply the look and head back to your NLE. If your shot is static, you’re good to go. If not, you can animated it over time, as you would with any other BCC or built-in effect in Media Composer.
The FX Editor is super simple to get up and running with, and tucked away, is the ability to create your own custom presets as well. You’ll notice right away that one thing that’s different about the BCC+ effects as opposed to the standard BCC filters is that all the presets are contained within the FX Editor for the Plus effects and in the effects drop down in the Media Composer Effects Editor for the standard BCC Effects. This is a slight annoyance, but my guess would be that having the effect presets drop down is something that Boris FX has planned for a future update to bring the plus effects more in line with the rest of the Continuum package. I will say this. I’m super impressed with the responsiveness of the FX Editor. I was a little worried that it might be a little clunky in its first iteration in Continuum 2021, but it has the same quick responsiveness as Mocha Continuum, Particle Illusion or any of the other applications that have become integrated in effects in Continuum 2021. On the downside, as of this review, there is also no integrated Mocha, Geometrics or Beat Reactor available either, but again, I’m going to guess that this is something that is coming down the line. What’s important to keep in mind with all eighty-two of these effects is they are designed to be something that was added in camera, not in post, so you won’t find any particles or effects of that nature. One thing you will notice immediately is the quality and how quick and responsive the effects are once you get rolling with them. Okay. I can talk about these effects all day, but let’s move on, as another favorite effect, Particle Illusion has received a major update.
Particle Illusion Updates
There’s been soooooo much added to Particle Illusion inside of Continuum 2021, and to be honest, the fact that all this has been added as well as all the new effects is a pretty large feat to say the least. For me, here are the biggest updates in order of importance.
Full 3D Camera, Environment and Particles
Yes, you read that correctly. PI is now completely 3D with the ability to turn on 3D cameras and particles, and animated them in a completely 3D environment.
Add organically evolving randomized variation to particle Size and Position based on a noise map field.
This one is simple, but adds an interesting twist to your particles. Once turned on, a line is drawn from the emitter point to each particle.
Deflector – Randomization & Particle Break
If you have ever worked with Particle Illusion, you’ll know that deflectors are pretty cool. Well, they’ve gotten even cooler with the ability to add variable randomization in their bounce patterns after colliding with a deflector, which just give them a little more natural scattering effect. This, combined with the fact that you can now have particles break into sub-particles after hitting a deflector is pretty cool!
One last thing that I want to mention about Particle Illusion is that once you’ve downloaded Continuum 2021, the extended PI Emitter library is actually a separate download, so don’t think you got ripped off if you open PI before downloading them. Simply head over to the Boris FX website to the Support category and to Downloads, and you can find it there to download free of charge.
Please keep in mind that there are some other “not so big” updates to Particle Illusion, as well as pretty substantial updates to Title Studio including improved C4D Model imports, Procedural Noise texture generators and Multi-texture options for combining textures into a single hybrid texture. Primatte Studio has also received a new integrated Edge Cleaner tool (which it really needed) designed to clean up the edges of rough keys without degrading clean edges! You can check out all the additional minor updates to Continuum 2021 at the Boris FX website.
VALUE FOR YOUR DOLLAR
I’ll be honest with you. $1695 US to purchase Continuum outright is a little much for Media Composer editors, as the equivalent Adobe version is $995. This is why I stated earlier that I’m absolutely 100% on board with the subscription plan that Boris FX offers for $495 per year. That gets you three years of updates for the price of a one time purchase. There is not one area of your workflow that Continuum won’t cover and enhance, and as you saw with the 2021 update to the effects package which, by the way, is the biggest update in Continuum’s history, each one of these updates is included with the subscription, as opposed to the outright license which gets you one year of updates and bug fixes, and that’s it. I should also point out that the team at Boris FX is updating Continuum throughout the year with not only bug fixes, but in many cases with “.5” updates that will include new features including updates to current effects, as well as brand new effects, so the money you spent is working to get you new items and updates throughout the year!
I have no problem saying that Continuum 2021 is the single, most complete, effects package you can purchase today. It covers all the basics from Titling to Keying to Image Restoration effects, but it also does so much more. Stylistic Lighting effects like Lens Flares, God Rays and Light Sweeps, Film effects like Looks, Glows, Grain and Vignette effects, as well as ultra realistic particle effects inside of Particle Illusion, and now Cinematic Lens effects courtesy of the DFT effects, rebranded as BCC+ effects. Whether you purchase or subscribe to Continuum, you won’t need another effects package for anything, as Continuum has you covered in every way imaginable. Just as a final FYI, Boris FX has done away with the free 14 day trial, and has moved to a watermarked unlimited trial that you can download 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.