August 23, 2007

Review: Trapcode Shine, Starglow, 3D Stroke filters

I did a short review of the new-old Trapcode filters recently for SF Cutters.

In short, though similar filters (or Replicators or Behaviors) can be found in AE and Final Cut Studio, Trapcode Shine, Starglow, and 3D Stroke offer more control, unique features, and probably faster results than the alternatives.

Trapcode 3S: Shine, Starglow and 3D Stroke filters

Rich Young, July 2007

Trapcode recently introduced upgrades to Shine, Starglow and 3D Stroke filter products with Universal Binary/MacIntel support so you can use them inside Final Cut Pro 5.1+, Avid Express Pro 5.5+ or Premiere Pro, as well as After Effects 6.5+ and Motion 3. The Trapcode 3S Pack, which bundles these 3 filters at a lower price, is also available. The filters feature a new rendering engine to produce high quality images fast, with 32-bit support (After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Motion) and 16-bit support (Avid AVX, Premiere Pro). The same plug-in should work in AE and Premiere Pro on both Mac and Windows, but it's different than the FxPlug version designed for FCP and Motion.

Trapcode Shine is a 2D volumetric light effect plug-in which combines render speed, control, and high quality to simulate sun rays from behind text or logos, God rays through clouds or trees, or to create animated backgrounds. Other filters like Light Rays in FCP and Motion or CC Light Burst in AE (8-bit only bundled) can give you beautiful results, but you get more control and subtle results in a shorter time with Shine.

Shine includes numerous ray coloring options including 3- and 5-color gradients with 22 tweakable presets and unique controls to make light rays shimmer without animating the light source or layer position. Additional controls include pre-processed Threshold and Use Mask commands to control the luminance value or area where the effect begins. This in addition to a Transfer Mode controls to add original layer information, as well as separate Opacity controls for Source and rays, is much more powerful than a simple Mix slider, though you could get similar results with more time, layers, and/or built-in effects. And fast updates during parameter adjustments makes setup quicker. See an intro of Shine in action and additional example movies at the Trapcode site.

Trapcode 3D Stroke uses paths from masks to render volumetric strokes that can be manipulated in 3D space.You can bend strokes in space and taper controls to make strokes that are thinner at the ends, or fly around or write-on vector art in 3D (which will not disappear when viewed from the side). In addition there are 40 preset shapes for generating outlines or swirling strokes, built-in transfer modes, and motion blur for more realism. It has a built-in camera for Final Cut Pro and Motion but also works with AE comp cameras. See an intro of 3D Stroke in action and additional example movies at the Trapcode site.

Trapcode Starglow is a fast-rendering glow that uses highlight values of a source layer to create glints and star-shaped glows. The star shape consists of eight points that can be assigned individual color maps and streak lengths. The controls are similar to Shine, with numerous coloring options and presets, built-in transfer modes, and shimmer, threshold, and mask controls. To get a quick handle on this filter, see the Starglow Flash intro and additional example movies at the Trapcode site.


While Shine, Starglow and 3D Stroke are full-featured, fast, and come with good support and a large user community, Final Cut Studio users will have to weigh those benefits against almost similar features in the cool but still maturing Motion 3. Hands-on training is available for free through the Trapcode site, with examples and step-by-step tutorials from Trapcode and others and Flash demos by creator Peder Norrby (see the new HDR tutorial). A healthy user gallery provides even more examples of Trapcode filters in action. If you download demos of these filters to give them a spin, look at the Help files for additional tips.

No comments: