By Neil Bennett | on August 14, 2008
Price: 305 . 860 . 860 . 1420
Pros: Highest-grade VFX tools available.
Cons: Pricey; FxPlug version lacks on-screen handles.
This review is taken from our group test of visual effects plug-ins collections.
Sapphire is the daddy of VFX plug-in collections. Its high-end toolset has found favour with firms producing VFX for Hollywood feature films, and it seems like almost every car ad on TV uses one of the suite’s glow effects.
This toolset comes at a high price, though. The AE and FxPlug versions of Sapphire are divided into four boxes: Lighting; Stylize; Adjust, Blur+Sharpen, Composite & Distort; and Render, Time & Transitions – each of which cost more than twice that of the full FxFactory Pro. The full set is almost twice the price of Boris Continuum Complete.
Sapphire is worth it, though. The sheer quality of its output puts it head-and-shoulders above the other wide-ranging collections we’ve looked at here – and it includes some very useful hands-on controls, too. Each filter features a high level of processing, with texture and lighting effects boasting an unmatched level of fine detail.
Many filters include on-screen handles, spheres and boxes to help visually manipulate each effect, offering a fast way to get results.
Sapphire doesn’t cover as many bases as some of its rivals, but includes many variations on a theme, for speed – so there are nine Glow, six Cloud, 16 Warp and 13 Texture filters. This, combined with the grabbable controls and high-grade output, makes Sapphire exceedingly swift to use. Previewing and rendering Sapphire’s effects takes about as long as BCC ’s or Tinderbox’s core filters, but none of them are accelerated by OpenGL and preview slower than those that are.
The FxPlug version is an oddity, as few Final Cut and Motion users will want to pay £860 for an effects pack – and it uses dial controls rather than on-screen handles – but the glows are likely to appeal to high-end editors, and it will be useful if Apple ever releases its successor to Shake, which is codenamed Phenomenon and is rumoured to use the FxPlug architecture.
Supported hosts: After Effects 5/6/7/CS3, Boris Red 3/4, Combustion 2/3/4/2008, Final Cut Pro 6, Fusion 4/5, Media Composer 2.6, Motion 3, Premiere Pro 1.5/2/CS3, Shake 4.1