By Michael Burns | on February 25, 2008
Price When Reviewed: 455 . 150
Pros: BCC-style PixelChooser and Motion Tracker available for each filter; multiprocessor acceleration; 16-bit channel support; new interface; ability to load and save presets.
Cons: Expensive; no new filters, only enhancements to existing collection; known issues include minor bugs with Spot Frame and Super Shadow filters.
Final Effects Complete (FEC), a collection of video-effects plug-ins, is one of those sets that seems to have been around for ages, first seeing light back in the mid-90s. Its first major upgrade since being brought into the Boris FX family three years ago is more than just a rebrand: the set contains some 108 plug-ins, as before – but under the hood they’ve been given a major overhaul.
Version 5.0 sees multiprocessor support enabled for all the filters, with each filter dialog sporting an option button to turn it off if required. The speed increase is notable.
Still on the Boris rebrand, all the filter dialog boxes also now offer buttons for loading and saving presets, which can be imported onto your system from other users. However, presets are only compatible with the filter in which they were created.
There’s also a context-sensitive Help function and a link to the Boris FX site. Individual PDF documents popped up in response to double-clicking the help button on the Mac version of the software, but this didn’t always work on our Vista copy. This is possibly not a bug, but it’s worth downloading the 14-day trial to see if this and other issues crop up on your system.
The most significant addition is the Boris Pixel Chooser, which is also included in the company’s filter collection, Boris Continuum Complete (BCC). Available in all the FEC 5 filters, the Pixel Chooser offers a variety of ways to selectively apply the effects to the footage or image. It does this based on user-defined criteria such as channels or masked regions. As well as using its own shape masks, you can set the Pixel Chooser to work with existing AE masks present in the timeline.
As well as speeding up workflow, the feature has an added efficiency bonus: there’s no need to use layer duplication. The Pixel Chooser dialog also offers the ability to save and load presets – you can load the PixelChooser preset into any compatible filter.
Another BCC import is the Motion Tracker, again available for use within each filter dialog. This lets you apply the selected filter to a tracked point in the scene. Tracking can be difficult within footage not shot specifically for the task (for example with high contrast markers), so the Motion Tracker controls offer pre-process parameters to help distinguish the object to be tracked. It also has a dedicated dialog set, but you can’t import presets.
There are no new filters in the collection, although most of the existing filters have been enhanced by welcome tweaks. These include user-configurable lighting in many filters, enhancements to Bubbles, Bender and Hair, new particle types in Particle Systems II and animatable controls in the Particle World filter.
A final bonus of Version 5.0 is that it also offers users the choice between working in 8 or 16-bit per channel mode for each project, with the colour depth set automatically to match After Effects. Presumably this functionality will extend to the versions of Final Effects Complete for Final Cut Pro (FxPlug) and Avid (AVX) when they’re released later this year.