Price: $999 (£638.87)
Pros: High-quality HD effects; good range with time-saving enhancements.
Cons: Relatively pricey; no presets.
Monsters GT is a set of post-production plug-ins for After Effects (AE) that add glows, light rays, lens flares, lightning, film damage, fire and fluid effects to your footage. Originally developed in the UK by 5D, they’re still largely put together by Brits from later owner SpeedSix (which GenArts acquired last year).
Monsters has been optimised in this release to take advantage of the 64-bit support in Intel Macs and AE CS5, as well as CUDA-based Nvidia graphics chips. The company claims this enables real-time interactivity at HD resolutions, faster render speeds, and very high image quality and dynamic range. Monsters GT also supports full floating point for all internal processing, improving quality for many effects.
There are 54 effects available, grouped into Adjust, Blur+Sharpen, Distort, Lighting, Render, Stylize and Time categories. Effects are adjusted via a control panel, but each has an array of different, dedicated parameters.
Some effects are driven by the luminance values of the underlying footage, while others provide the data to drive further effects. Notable is AudioExtract, which analyses the audio associated with each frame of a clip and sorts it into frequency bands.
Monsters allows you to stack effects and set keyframes to control parameters, such as with AudioExtract, which can control the degree of blur in a blur effect by the beat of a particular drum in the audio track, for example.
Monsters GT is pricey. However, this has to be weighed up against the time saved in applying the effects, rather than creating them in the host application from scratch.