Price: £355 plus VAT, upgrade around £125
Continuum Complete 2.0 is the latest in Boris FX’s line of plug-ins for compositing applications. It sits alongside the company’s eponymous line of more NLE-focused plug-ins and its Boris Red compositing-application-in-a-plug-in suite. The update not only adds 32 new filters, but gives those already available a boost by rewriting them to work in a 16-bit colour space. Support for 16-bit colour was added to the Adobe After Effects Production Bundle in version 5.0 – so it’s been a while in coming – but this will be welcomed by compositors who want more precise colour controls in AE or Discreet Combustion. Boris FX also claims that the rewrite has upped render quality and speed. We didn’t notice any difference in quality – they were good to begin with – but some filters, especially those that created more heavy-duty effects, did seem more spritely. The new filters are split into the two usual groups of effects and generators, though there’s also the Optical Flow filter. This combines a slow/fast motion filter with the ability to change frame-rates. It does a good job of interpolating between frames, even when reducing speeds by more than half. It’s no match for a standalone plug-in such as RealViz’s ReTimer, but that costs just under £500 plus VAT for the SD version. The generators allow standard textures such as brick, cloth, granite, and marble – even reptilian skin – to be created. These can be applied to footage as warps, or onto solids to create independent graphics elements. Bump maps can also be applied. The implementation isn’t as fully featured as we’d like – using them with tracking or AE’s 3D workspace can make lining-up a chore, but this would be true of any plug-in. A bump map filter allows maps to be placed on a piece of footage, which is a nice touch. The new effects include a set of lighting and shadow tools that are fully featured, though hardly awe-inspring, an Emboss filter that was oddly missing before, and two film-related filters. Film Grain, while offering a high level of control like the Optical Flow filter, isn’t in the same league as standalone plug-ins such as Film FX. Film Damage allows users to mess up their work in traditional ways. All of the filters offer an almost overwhelming level of control, though they are well organized, starting you off with a few simple options but allowing you to drill down to make the most miniscule of changes. This a worthy upgrade, and well worth checking out if you’re progressing beyond your main tool’s built-in filters.