doddleNews: Something Old, Something New – Boris Continuum Complete 8.1
09 August 2012

by Jeremiah Hall, August 9, 2012

Let’s take a look at Boris FX’s Boris Continuum Complete 8.1, a set of around 200 plug-in filters for a variety of non-linear editors and compositing systems, such as After Effects .

When I first started in news, I could frequently be found hiding out in the Promotions Dept.  You see, we were cutting on 3/4″ cuts-only decks back in the News Dept., while Promotions had this wonderful thing called a non-linear system.  I lusted after that thing, especially the effects.  As I looked at it one day, I noticed a disc sitting next to the computer.  I read the title.

I asked the woman cutting, a patient ex-reporter turned promotions guru, “What’s Boris?” My mind was filled with thoughts of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Boris and Natasha.

And then the head of promotions came through and said, “Would you get out of here and leave her alone?!?”

Alas, no answer that day.  But I quickly found out, and the name Boris never conjured up “I am
look-ink for Moose and Squirrel” again.  Instead it brings to mind hard-core video effects.

Boris FX recently released Boris Continuum Complete 8.1.  Let’s take a look.

Something Old

Since I never got around to reviewing BCC 8, I thought I’d take a few minutes and walk through it.  If you already have BCC 8, skip down to the “Something New” section to see what’s new in 8.1.

Boris Continuum Complete is a collection of almost 200 plug-ins for a variety of platforms.  There are versions for Adobe After Effects / Premiere Pro , Avid Media Composer and Avid DS, Apple Final Cut Pro / Motion (Final Cut Pro still uses BCC 7), Sony Vegas Pro, Autodesk Sparks, and Quantel.

Because I work with Adobe CS6 , I will focus on the Adobe version of BCC8.

The set has something for everyone.  There are 16 subsets of plug-ins.  They include 3D Objects, Art Looks, Blur and Sharpen, Color and Tone, Film Style, Image Restoration, Keys and Blend, Lights, Match Move, Particles, Perspective, Stylize, Textures, Time, Transitions, and Warp.  There is also a subset called Obsolete, with filters that are now. . . obsolete.  If you have one of these obsolete filters in an older comp you need to work with that you built with BCC 7, you still can thanks to the Obsolete section’s inclusion.

One thing I like in the new set is how the effects are grouped together.  Unlike older versions, BCC 8 now groups filters by function.  Tools you would use to fix video, such as DV Fixer and Uprez, are now grouped together under the Image Restoration heading.  Likewise any filter dealing with artistic looks, such as Cartooner or Pencil Sketch, can now be found under Art Looks.  This is a nice logical method for laying out filters, saving the artist time trying to find the filter he’s looking for.

The new filters in the set include Film Glow, Flicker Fixer, Lens Flare 3D, Stage Light, Particle Emitter 3D, Organic Strands, Wild Card, and Videoscope.

BCC Film Glow, found under the Film Style category, helps video mimic the look of film.

BCC Lens Flare 3D is the upgrade of BCC 7′s Lens Flare and Lens Flare Adv plugins, now located in the Obsolete category.  The artist can now use After Effect’s own comp camera with the plug-in, or use the built-in camera from the filter.  It also includes camera and light rigs for Premiere Pro.  There are a multitude of choices to make, from fog to flickering.  There are also a number of presets ranging from Big Bright Amber Light, to Z-Stripe – a flat white stripe emanating from the light source.  Other highlights include:  the use of luma values to automatically generate flares; automate shimmers; colored rings; chroma hoops and chromatic aberrations; etc.  There is a wide list of improvements to flares in BCC8.  It is a fun effect.  I easily lost a couple of hours playing with it.

BCC Particle Emitter 3D let’s the artist add in a variety of interesting flying, falling, or otherwise moving tiny objects.  The presets for this plug-in include such things as snowfall, flares, and clouds.  There are over 35 presets, with room to build your own and customize everything from the birthrate of the particles to wind gusts affecting their travel.

BCC Organic Strands is for the motion graphic designer.  Flying material, plasma, lasers, phasers, and other moving materials.  I left a quick example above.  I also used BCC Extruded Text for the text in the movie.

BCC Stage Light lets you add realistic lighting to your comps, especially for titles and 3D objects.  I especially like the fog setting that is in this effect.

Above is an example I threw together of the new BCC Wild Cards.  The cards are all customizable in number, rotation, and motion.

BCC Videoscope gives you  a waveform monitor, an RGB waveform monitor, a YCbCr waveform monitor, a vectorscope and a histogram over your footage, allowing you to quickly check color levels and make sure your footage is broadcast-legal.

My favorite – BCC Flicker Fixer.  If you’ve ever been handed flickering video caused by bad auto-iris, you’ve wanted this.  This filter does most of the work for you, letting you drag-and-drop it onto the affected clip.  You can change how it works.  If you need a frame-based analysis, use Frame Analysis.  However, as Boris FX warns, sometimes that can add unwanted flicker, depending on the source material.  If that’s the case, switch it to one of the two Temporal Smooth modes to turn it from a frame-based analysis to a pixel-based analysis.  You can also add mattes, if the flicker is only in a certain part of the frame.  The filter also gives you control of how many frames to analyze to make the fix.  Very handy tool, especially if you’re dealing with amateur footage.

BCC8 boasts tighter After Effects integration, including using native comp cameras and lights, and the use of vector maps from After Effects layers for path animation.  Plug-ins that use a beat reactor can now use audio direct from the After Effects timeline.  Particle generation has been improved as well.  Particle-based plug-ins can now use After Effect’s camera and lights, physics such as wind and sink points, a greater variety of special effects, and the ability to spawn particles.

Something New

Boris Continuum Complete 8.1, the current version, is an upgrade from BCC 8.  There are several upgrades here.  BCC 3D Objects now work in Premiere Pro CS6.  This includes BCC Extruded Text, BCC Extruded EPS, BCC Extruded Spline, BCC Type-On Text, and BCC Layer Deformer.

Also in the mix is new depth of field support for BCC Particle Emitter 3D, BCC Wild Cards, BCC Particle Array, BCC pin Art 3D, and BCC Organic Strands.  They have also improved BCC Lens Flare 3D.  Now there is a Scale by Distance option for the After Effects camera when using BCC Lens Flare 3D.  This lets the light automatically scale while the distance between the camera and the light source changes. You can now also obscure the flare by using mask path shapes.

Final Thoughts

All of the new filters and improvements are in addition to the already wonderful keying filters, transitions, blends, warps, colors and tones in Boris Continuum Complete.  While the various effects are fun, I also find them incredibly useful – a must for a plug-in set.  I think the presets that ship with BCC are very good starting points for customization, so I don’t keep having to reinvent the wheel every time I build a comp.  I also like the new way the filters are categorized, saving me time hunting for things while I work.

If you already own BCC 8, upgrade to BCC 8.1.  It is free, and will improve your current toolset.  If you are working with Adobe CS 5.5 or below and are working with BCC 7 or below, consider upgrading to BCC 8.1.  The improvements Boris FX has made in the package is worth the $295.00 upgrade price.  If you do not have BCC at all, I would highly recommend taking a close look at it.  There are several plug-ins in the set I can’t do without.

One more thing.  If you haven’t upgraded to Adobe CS6, I would recommend looking at that as well.  The improvements in Premiere Pro alone justify the upgrade costs.

Happy cutting.