Price: £375 plus VAT; Pro is £730 plus VAT
Boris Graffiti 2 is a titling add-on for a whole range of editing-and-effects packages. It’s available in two versions: the standard version for tools such as Premiere, After Effects and Final Cut Pro; and the Pro version for higher-end systems from the likes of Avid, Discreet, Media 100 and Pinnacle. The Pro version’s feature set is exactly the same as that of the standard version, though it’s twice the price. Even more bizarre is that Avid Xpress DV is classed with the Pro systems rather than with its main competitors (Premiere and Final Cut Pro). Graffiti 2 is a lot more than a mere caption generator – but it needs to be. Most editors come with a perfectly acceptable titling utility capable of producing simple scrolls, crawls, and text with glows, shadows, bevels, and occasionally textures. To raise itself above the average built-in titler, Graffiti has to offer more. Thus, 3D extruded text, path animation, multiple layers of text, lighting, write-on effects, and various keyframeable filters are present. The interface itself is reminiscent of After Effects, but more friendly overall. Each piece of text appears as an item in the timeline, and beneath it, any animatable functions or effects you’ve applied to it. There are dozens of parameters that can be animated, from the basics – x,y and z position, scale, opacity, rotation and the like – through to the more unusual, such as motion blur, lights, and shadows. Each animatable track on the timeline can be opened out to display a bézier graph. In other words, you can adjust the speed of change between keyframes for any aspect of your animation. Effects are more limited, but you do get blurs, distortion effects, and noise effects. The new version also gives you compatibility with After Effects Filters, so you can really expand the package’s toolset. There are also particle effects for smashing text into pieces. As in Boris Continuum (reviewed next issue), a Pixel Chooser is included. This lets you define – with a mask or an image – which areas of the screen are altered by a given effect. The Pixel Chooser allows you to be very specific about how your effects are applied. Text can be used straight, placed along a path (new in version 2), or wrapped around a 3D primitive for a more advanced effect. It can be combined with still images, media, or other layers of animated text and it can be extruded in 3D. Once you’ve completed an effect, it can be saved as a movie, a still, or a Flash animation – or the whole timeline can be saved, or just certain tracks. The package does present a bit of a confusion of floating windows that can be a problem – especially when it’s lying on top of an editing package with similar, but unrelated toolboxes, and you find yourself constantly shifting objects around – even on a decently sized monitor. That said, there’s plenty of functionality, and a well-organized controls window that files all your timeline functions into a set of tabs. It’s easy to go overboard with Graffiti, producing crass over-the-top effects and animations that look like they belong on a videogame rather than TV, but if you use the package with subtlety, you can produce interesting effects quickly. The presets provided will give you a good starting point, and are easily editable so you can create your own individual effects without the fiddling with keyframes you’d have to do if you wanted to create the same look in an effects package.