There has been an age old debate going on in the post production world, and no, I’m not talking about which NLE is better. I’m talking about which 3rd Party Effects package is better of the two big players. Boris FX’s Boris Continuum Complete or Genarts Sapphire? Let’s flash back to December 15, 2014, when Boris FX acquired Imagineer Systems. Let’s be honest. No one saw this coming, but in hindsight, it makes perfect sense. How do companies make their products better? They don’t waste development time on tools that can be licensed (or bought) from other companies. Adobe is the master of this with After Effects. Let’s be honest. What sucked in After Effects a few years ago? Keying, Tracking and the 3D text capabilities that were hyped so much, and then were such a huge letdown when integrated. So what did Adobe do about it? Instead of wasting resource time and money, they licensed Keylight from The Foundry for Green screen work, Mocha (AE) from Imagineer systems for Tracking (and roto work), and C4D (Lite) from Maxon for 3D text and animation work. With the purchase of Imagineer Systems, Boris FX had essentially done the same thing, but incorporated it in a different way.
The core of the Imagineer purchase has come in two distinct categories. The first side is the licensing side, as Mocha is integrated in a bunch of applications out there including After Effects, Hitfilm and even Coremelt’s very cool SliceX and TrackX. But, the problem for Avid Editors specifically has always been that bridge that seems to have been blown up a long time ago, and never repaired. Media Composer editors will know what I’m talking about. The I/O bridge for effects work. Automatic Duck had bridged it so that we could take our Media Composer timelines to After Effects, and Imagineer Systems has done it, in a way, by giving Mocha Pro users the ability to export for BCC Corner Pin and Center Point tracks from Mocha Pro and import it directly into BCC Corner Pin effect, but that doesn’t help us much when it comes to adding effects to specific areas and regions of our shots.
Applying filters to footage is not a problem. Applying effects and looks to specific areas of our footage can become quite a challenge, especially if that footage is moving, and you want to track a specific area to apply that effect to. That’s where Boris FX has added the Mocha integration in BCC, in its Pixel Chooser parameter, available across most of the effects in the package. Mocha effects integration was really needed to push what we can do, effects wise, to the next level,and both the Boris FX and Imagineer Systems teams have integrated it perfectly, AND the Imagineer Systems team has even released a plug-in for Mocha Pro for Adobe, Avid and OFX that lets you track elements with Mocha Pro, for direct integration in your NLE (or compositing) timeline. So, the Boris acquisition of Imagineer Systems has pushed BCC forward by huge leaps and bounds when it comes to effects and tracking work in your timeline. So where does that leave Genarts users?
Let’s be honest, much like when Alderaan was destroyed in Star Wars: A New Hope (you know, “as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.”), the general consensus on social media seemed to be that Genarts users weren’t happy with this news. To be honest, I’m not really sure why. Again, it came as a total shock to just about everyone in the Post Production world, and there have been a lot of posts (and reposts) of the press release, but I haven’t been able to find many opinions out there on the actual purchase itself, other than the occasional internet troll complaining about how Sapphire will be “ruined” by this deal. I’m going to say it right now. I think that users of both plug-in packages will both benefit greatly from this deal, and that makes it a huge win for all us editors and graphic designers.
I thought the easiest way to move forward would be to take a look at some advantages that both user bases will get from getting a chance to work with effects in the other package. Let’s start with BCC Users.
Sapphire has hit its stride in the last few years, and has really started to push the boundaries with stunningly realistic looking effects. It’s all about pushing the realism boundaries with effects like Night Sky, where you can create a custom made night sky, and tailor it to a specific city, date and even time, and get an awesome looking night sky! Combine that with an effect like Aurora to add the Northern Lights to your composites and even the new Luna effect, again where you create photo realistic looking renderings of the moon at specific days and even times to add to your night skies and northern lights.
THE BUILDER EFFECT
If you haven’t seen Sapphire in a while the Builder effect alone, for both effects and transitions, makes the price of Sapphire totally worth it. Media Composer editors were always teased with the thought of node based compositing in their NLE’s with Avid DS. Well, now that Avid DS has gone the way of the Dodo, there’s no nodes for us…..or is there. The builder effect will give BCC users the ability to combine effects in a way that they have never had the ability to before, and will take your effect stacking and creation to a whole new level!
THE FLARE DESIGNER
Again, much like the Builder Effect, the Flare Designer gives you the ability to create lens flares from the ground up, and get as basic or specific as you like. One feature that I literally laughed out loud with is the very simple “Identify” button. How many times have you attempted to figure out which part of the flare is which? In Sapphire, it’s simple. Just hit the “Identify” button, and Sapphire will show you, by increasing the brightness of the element, which one you’re working with.
OTHER COOL EFFECTS
Sapphire is full of a ton of cool effects including:
- Bokeh Lights
- Flash Bulbs
- Glow (I mention this effect specifically, as it’s probably the best glow in any plug-in pack)
- Muzzle Flash
Just to name a few.
Okay, let’s take a look at what Sapphire users can and should be excited about in the Boris Continuum Complete world!
MOCHA BCC INTEGRATION
This is probably the biggest feature of BCC. The Mocha integration in BCC makes it the biggest leap forward in visual effects in your NLE in the last 20 years. Now, many Sapphire users might think that this really doesn’t apply to them, but what’s important to keep in mind is that you can add “layers” to your Builder composites, and you can have the PixelChooser/Mocha output a matte/mask only, that you’ve tracked from a shot. What this means is that you would be able to access Mocha tracking in your NLE, and then have Builder access those mattes for you to use with your Sapphire effects! Very cool!
Have you ever wanted to animate your effects to the beat of a music or sound effects track? Many of the BCC effects have an integrated Beat Reactor parameter that you’ll be able to use to isolate a specific region of your audio track, and then assign a popular parameter to be animated by the music/sfx. Previously we’ve only been able to do this in After Effects, so having the feature right in our NLE is a huge bonus!
TOOLS, TOOLS, TOOLS
I probably sound like a broken record when I say this but, for me, the biggest reason that I love the BCC packages, and why they are key to my workflow is the tools. Chromakey Studio, Beauty Studio, Dropout Fixer, Lens Correction (Fish eye), Magic Sharp, Motion Key, Noise Reduction and Reframer to name a few. These tools (I don’t call them effects), are paramount to most “day to day” editors workflows.
BCC has 3D effects, and a lot of them. From 3D Extruded Text to 3D Extruded Splines to a Layer Deformer and even the new Title Studio, which was specifically designed to animate text, as well as being able to import true 3D elements into your animations, you have a lot of options here.
Now, with all that being said, where I’m really interested to see how things develop in in the crossover effects and tools. Meaning that, for example, both product lines have an Effect Browser. BCC’s is called the FX Browser, and Sapphire’s is called the Preset Browser. Will they keep both as differing tools in each bundle, or will you see BCC’s FX Browser make its way over to Sapphire? There are also a few “crossover” effects like Light Leaks, Lens Flares and 3D Lights (just to name a few), and it will be interesting to see how these develop side by side with each other. With that being said, there is one last thing I want to talk about, and that is…………..
TO COMBINE OR NOT TO COMBINE
This is where things get a little murky in the deal. Imagineer Systems’ acquisition was a purchase of a non-competing product. They had a product that could be integrated into the BCC environment to enhance our workflow. Sapphire and BCC, on the other hand are two competing products. Well, I think that it’s pretty safe to say that, at least for the time being, the Sapphire plug-in package won’t change too much, as version 10 was released just after IBC. Also, something that is hugely important to take into consideration is backwards compatibility. You want to make sure, no matter how you move forward, that you have access to all the effects that you had in previous versions, so if a tweak of an old project is required, you’re good to go. How I see things moving forward, and this is strictly my own opinion is that the best effects (and there are a ton of them) in Sapphire will be moved over into BCC, with the older effects being placed in an “Obsolete” folder for backwards compatibility purposes. One thought that should get Sapphire users super excited is having the PixelChooser/Mocha added to almost every effect in Sapphire, so they can be spoiled, just like all the BCC user have been for over a year now.
ONE LICENSE TO RULE THEM ALL
As soon as the announcement hit the internet, this was the first thought in my head. Everyone’s biggest complaint about effects packages is always the cost. Why does it cost SO much to get 200+ effects in your NLE/Compositing application? Well, imagine the possibility of being able to purchase one license, at a discounted price from what you would pay for both, to get both effects packages at your disposal! Now that has me super excited.
Last, but certainly not least, there is something else I want to throw into the mix, as it’s something that I always thought was intriguing, and has huge potential is the Monster GT and ParticleIllusion effects packages, both of which are Windows only, and NOT supported in Adobe CC 2015, or AVX at all (but supported in OFX). Even though in an interview that Scott Simmons did with Boris Yamnitsky, president of Boris FX, he stated that the Monster GT effects line was recently retired, I think that these would be fantastic effects to add to either Sapphire or BCC, and now that the development teams are combined, let’s hope these effects make a return appearance, in an updated and more improved way (and with a Mac version)!
The Boris FX acquisition of Genarts, in my opinion, is a huge win for editors and motion graphics designers alike. The thought of having both packages at my disposal for a reduced price is super exciting, and the thought of having the best of both packages being added to each other (i.e. – Mocha for Sapphire and more photo-realistic effects for BCC) should will have editors and motion graphic designers taking notice to see where this new and improved Boris FX company goes from here! Man, with an almost yearly surprise from Boris FX, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year! For more information on the Boris FX acquisition of Genarts or either product line, you can head over to borisfx.com .