Price: £585 plus VAT; upgrade around £125 plus VAT
Company: Media 100
Alongside collections such as Boris FX, Final Effects Complete (FEC) has been one of the few sets of After Effects (AE) plug-ins that has lasted the test of time. The latest release follows AE onto Mac OS X, and adds support for some new host applications – and that’s it, really. If Final Effects Complete was released out of the blue today (which essentially it is if you use Final Cut Pro but not AE), then it would get an immediate Best Buy. At £585, it’s expensive for a set of filters – more expensive than the standard version of AE – but with almost 100 filters, it’s definitely worth it. The filters provide a wide range of effects and tools. There are colour-based tools such as channel blur and colour offset; additive effects such as Mr Mercury and the blobby Glue Gun; and a full particle system with advanced 3D. The vast majority of the filters are flexible and usable – unlike the limited rubbish that bulks out some other collections – and the collection hasn’t suffered too much from the bane of plug-in collections – inclusion in upgrades of the host application. Each filter includes a wide, though never overwhelming, range of keyframable options with both visual and numerical controls. If you’ve already migrated to OS X with the release of AE 5.5, or you’ve been waiting for this release, then this upgrade will be extremely useful. The software has been re-written, and gains much from the Unix-based OS – including the same level of stability that has made AE so much easier to use since it left OS 9 behind. There are a few known issues that can cause AE to crash, such as placing a smaller image on the underside of the original clip when using the Twister filter, but these are clearly listed in the documentation, and should hopefully be fixed soon. The OS X update also allows FEC to work within Final Cut Pro 3, Boris Red, and Boris FX. As After Effects plug-ins, they should also work within tools such as Premiere and Combustion – but there’s always the possibility of inconsistencies. The company’s own Media 100 i system also supports FEC for OS X. Updated support to make a plug-in work with current software tools is all well good, but charging around £125 for the privilege is steep (actually $199, as upgrading is performed online via Media 100’s online store). It also smacks of milking a captive audience. If you’ve never used Final Effects Complete before, this powerful collection of plug-ins is well worth checking out. If you already own it, then the upgrade may leave you feeling cheated.