Best Buy
  • Price: 370

  • Company: Red Giant Software

  • Pros: Fast and customisable, tons of presets, great value for money.

  • Cons: Exploring beyond the obvious presets requires some study.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 10 out of 10 We rate this 10 out of 10

Red Giant has released a series of plug-ins billed as essential video tools. The most dramatic of these is the Knoll Light Factory, which allows you to construct any style or type of light source from 19 customisable elements. The lights can be made to track an animated layer, and you can lock light flares to a particle source for glittery effects: think of a swarm of Tinker Bells exploding from a Christmas cracker.

Complementing the Light Factory is Trapcode Shine. It lets you to do light shining through text, sunlight shining through trees, or even gobo lighting, and any Shine source can be animated too. The most intriguing effect is Trapcode 3D Stroke, which works by manipulating and animating vector artwork in three dimensions. When combined with Trapcode Shine, the profusion of effects is bewildering.

The suite includes custom lens-flare effects

The Radium Glow filter is the subtlest of the lot, mimicking natural light to produce glows in the highlight areas of an image. Its companion, Radium Glow Edge, adds serious dazzle to the edges of objects, and is best used on text in title sequences.

Perhaps the most useful day-to-day are the Red Giant Warp filters, including Shadow and Reflection – the names are self-explanatory. They work well with figures extracted from blue or green screens.

The filters work with After Effects, Final Cut Pro and Motion using 32-bit rendering, and with Avid and Premiere Pro in 16-bit mode.