There's a recurring trend in technology's relationship with its users. First, it's very complicated, with dedicated users learning the complications, fixing them and then employing the technology. Then it seems to get very simple, with less dedicated users jumping in and popularizing the technology. Eventually, everybody gets tired or bored of the now-overused technology, and we start all over again.
But can you really expect tech companies like GenArts, Red Giant and NewTek to go belly-up, waiting for new computer maniacs to be born? These three highly respected visual-effects software firms are reaching out to new clients with easier-to-use tools designed to create stunning visuals at a price point that won't break your budget. We'll call it the EZ FX philosophy, and these three companies have released new products that fit right in. And much like the DSLR revolution itself, these software tools help level the playing field between the haves and the have-nots.
GenArts Sapphire Edge (www.genarts.com) is the $299 little sister of the $1,699 GenArts Sapphire system. Big-brother Sapphire, which is a plug-in for a wide array of post staples like Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects, Avid, Nuke, Autodesk and Sony Vegas Pro, has been used to add visual effects to films, music videos and commercials for such leaders as Disney, Lucasfilm, Paramount, MTV, ABC and CBS. Invoices for such Sapphire post effects run in the tens of thousands, and often take seasoned experts significant time to achieve using complex controls and layering to manipulate lights, colors, envelopes and other keyframed effects.
Many of the effects, such as sepia toning, warming, cooling and color biasing, come from a professional colorist's palette. Other effects include burst-of-light effects (such as one might experience if a city were nuked), rays emanating from behind masked objects, blurs and selective focus pulls, neon effects, etc. Similarly, numerous transitions are offered, vastly expanding the range that editors have come to expect, which were extant from the hardware-based special-effects generator.