Layers Magazine: Boris Continuum Complete 7 AE
18 January 2011

by Rod Harlan, January 18, 2011


Boris Continuum Complete 7 AE (BCC) for Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro brings more than 200 filters to Macintosh and Windows versions of Adobe’s CS5, CS4, and CS3 suites. This latest version features 11 new filters, including an audio-driven keyframe generator, a new OpenGL particle engine, a 3-way color grade filter (with built-in keying and masking tools), a new video noise reduction tool, a spline-based warp filter, and still and video morph technology. More importantly, each BCC filter has been re-engineered for 64-bit operating systems and OpenGL acceleration.

While many reviews of software plug-ins oftentimes focus on listing a bunch of the effects found in the package (which are all found on the manufacturer’s website anyway), I want to focus on the underlying technology improvements found in version 7 of BCC. Graphic software manufacturers are moving away from coding their applications to run on the CPU (central processing unit) in favor of having them run on the GPU (graphics processing unit) of your video card. OpenGL is an industry standard for defining 2D and 3D images and it works well on all graphics cards from both NVIDIA and ATI. In particular, OpenGL excels in rendering a large number of polygons and supports 3D cameras, lights, textures, and bump features. So it’s best suited for 3D extrusions as well as composites and geometric image distortions like those found in 3D text, lens flares, and particle systems.
These are the exact types of filters and effects found in BCC 7. In fact, each BCC effect found in version 7 has been re-engineered for the new and faster 64-bit operating systems and includes optimization for OpenGL acceleration. It is this new underlying technology acceleration that I believe is the biggest selling point for BCC 7 for both new and existing users. The results are noticeable and very much appreciated by anyone using effects as part of their everyday workflow.

There are also a lot of nice little touches throughout the plug-in set that any working motion graphics designer will really appreciate. These include the ability to Generate 3D extruded shapes from imported AE spline path mask shapes, full support for the camera and lighting system in After Effects, spline-based still and video morph technology, and filters such as Smooth Tone, DV Fixer, and Pixel Fixer that help “repair” digital artifacts that are becoming all too common. There are also complimentary 3D particle effects (to those already found in AE), including Particle Array 3D and Pin Art 3D, and automated optical image stabilization that works without the use of point trackers. When you add in video noise reduction that uses video clip spatial and temporal information and more than 3,500 presets across all of the filters, you have quite a complete and powerful package!

The complaint from some users of previous versions has been the slow rendering of effects and the overall value of the package. With re-written code for 64-bit operating systems and optimized OpenGL acceleration, Boris has certainly improved its overall speed of the product. (You can see speed gains at At $995 retail for more than 200 filters you’re paying less than $5 per filter in the BCC 7 package and upgrades are only $295 from any older version of BCC. While you can certainly find more specialized packages of plug-ins that add even more advanced customization parameters (at a much higher price), I believe Boris Continuum Complete 7 AE gives you the most effects for the best value available in today’s market. —Rod Harlan

Company: Boris FX
Price: $995 (Upgrade: $295)
Rating: 4.5
Hot: 64-bit; OpenGL optimization
Not: Complicated activation process