Pros: Low-cost; great lighting tools for motion-graphics artists; innovative preset and randomize system.
Cons: Subtle effects difficult to achieve; usable mainly with high-contrast footage.
Randomize does exactly that, mixing up the parameters for some new effects. DigiEffects describes this as a brainstorming tool, but as with After Effects’ Brainstorm tool, randomly assigning values is a bit like flinging paint at the wall and hoping it produces art. Where it is useful is that by quickly flicking through random settings, you learn what all of the parameters do and how they work together (and how they don’t).
All of the filters work best with high-contrast material, with Halo (below) and Lightracer only really of use for dark scenes with obvious bright light sources, such as the night shot of Hong Kong shown below. Luminus can apply glows to more balanced scenes, but it’s very difficult to use it to apply a warming glow to a skin tone, as in a million glossy ads.
Photogust seems like many other ‘light rays’ filters but has a nifty set of extra controls. On top of the usual centre-point selection tool and ray-length controls, there are sliders for adjusting channel levels to tint your effect. Radiance combines glows with a range of directional blurs – plus controls over tinting, threshold, channels and apply mode. It’s the most powerful tool here and almost worth buying the whole set for.
It’s hard to review Illuma without comparing it to Sapphire, despite the price difference. Sapphire’s plug-ins have the subtlety to work with a wider range of footage and create both realistic and stylish results – while Illuma’s tools almost always create something that looks like an ‘effect’. Sapphire also has a wider range of parameters than Illuma, and includes a larger number of tuned filters – including nine glows – that make it quicker to get to the final effect you want.
Despite this, Simulate: Illuma is a great low-cost selection of plug-ins for motion-graphics artists and other stylized work.
After Effects 7/CS3, Boris Red 4, Combustion 4/2008, Final Cut Pro 5.1/6, Premiere Pro 2.0/CS3