• Price When Reviewed: 66

  • Pros: Runs near real-time. Inexpensive.

  • Cons: Mac-only. Delivers nothing new. Most editors will already have these effects.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 6 out of 10We rate this 6 out of 10We rate this 6 out of 10We rate this 6 out of 10We rate this 6 out of 10 We rate this 6 out of 10

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PlasmaFX is based on Mac OS X’s incredibly efficient Core Image system, which is part of what drives the operating system’s graphics engine. This allows Digital Anarchy’s latest set of plug-ins to run in near real-time (in SD) and allows for super-fast rendering. It also means that they’re Mac only.

The FCP/Motion versions are based on Apple’s FxPlug plug-in system – so require the latest versions of either: Final Cut Pro 5.1 or Motion 2.1 with the latest updates applied. They also run efficiently in After Effects – but the performance isn’t as impressive as it is in Apple’s applications.

There are 26 filters in PlamsaFX, ranging from Active Solarize and Anarchist Edge to Topology and X-Ray. There are variations on many names you’ll recognize here: from Cartoon FX and Poser Art to Bleach Bypass, Technicolor (with two- and three-pass versions) and Old Film.

In fact, you’ll probably recognize all of the plug-ins here. There’s not a single one that we haven’t seen many times before in collections from the likes of Boris FX or The Foundry – and chances are that if you’ve been editing or compositing for a while, you’ll already own equivalents to PlasmaFX’s filters.

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Collections such as Boris Continuum Complete are more expensive than Plasma FX, but they offer many more filters and usually offer extra tools to make them easier to use – such as region controls or a built-in tracker. They also produce generally better-quality output.
The unoriginal choice of filter effects wouldn’t be a problem if they offered a new take on their application, but they don’t. For example, the Edge Rays filter (left) offers controls for intensity, radius, brightness, ray length and other standard controls. Only the choice of blend modes is in any way innovative.
PlasmaFX would be more appropriate for users of Final Cut Xpress than Pro – but it’s not supported. The fast performance isn’t enough on its own to justify buying Plasma FX.
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