Boris Continuum Complete (BCC) is a comprehensive set of over 230 VFX plug-ins designed to complement postproduction tasks—from editing and effects, to graphics and finishing. Prior to sampling the tools in the new BCC 10 release, I honestly was a bit skeptical; I’ve never used Boris plug-ins, and the company’s website and branding don’t match my personal design aesthetic. After testing the suite for a week, however, I admit I was wrong—BCC 10 is a professional-quality effects package that can be compared to plug-in tools from companies like GenArts and Red Giant.
First of all, BCC 10 is blazingly fast in comparison to the standard effects in Adobe After Effects and Premiere or Avid Media Composer. BCC effects are GPU-accelerated through OpenCL, making previews interactive and saving lots of time on renders. For example, I was able to apply six film effects (including film grain, which is typically render-intensive) and build a preview in half the time of just one instance of the native film grain effect in AE.
In addition to performance, one of the key new features in every BCC 10 effect is integrated mocha tools. Boris recently acquired Imagineer Systems, and together they have added the power of mocha tracking and masking into every effect. This integration gives the user power to isolate effects and do advanced compositing such as blurring logos and faces.
While AE users have been enjoying the bundled mocha AE for years, this integration brings Academy Award®-winning mocha tools to Avid and Premiere editors. In addition to incorporating mocha, BCC helps simplify your effects stack by allowing you to directly matte effects using the PixelChooser, a quick way to generate mattes using luma, channels or keys. That, along with a handful of preset mask shapes and various blending options, helps you combine several effects into one, resulting in a cleaner effects stack.
BCC effects also include useful integrated tools for previewing and keyframing. The FX Browser helps showcase one of the suite’s important features: thousands of presets. BCC’s filters have a built-in browser that helps you quickly choose and compare from a large library of looks, presets and effects transitions.
Another useful feature is Beat Reactor. Similar to how mocha is integrated, Beat Reactor allows you to do much more within each effect to drive animations. It’s able to analyze an audio track and control keyframes based on the beats and tones, similar to Trapcode’s Sound Keys. Using tools like this can really help make your animations more dynamic.
Diving into the effects, there are many areas where BCC 10 shines. One of my favorite units, Lights, offers some nice effects that can be used for both motion graphics and visual effects. Lens Flare 3D is a good alternative to the popular Optical Flares plug-in from Video Copilot. While the presets may not be as nice, it does provide the same custom options to build your own lens flares.
Coming from Optical Flares, I like how BCC 10 allows you to create a flare directly in the comp view rather than in a separate GUI window. It’s more useful to see the flare in context of your composition while editing it. The new Light Leaks is a great effect that can produce the popular vintage look. Adding Light Leaks can really tie a comp together with atmospheric effects.
One of my favorite parts of BCC is the Particles unit. Trapcode Particular and Form users should be able to handily navigate these effects. You’ll find some familiar parameters, plus a lot more. Particle Emitter 3D offers many default particle sprites and even a few 3D shapes like spheres, cubes and cylinders. While I didn’t have a lot of time to play with it, this effect is impressive, and I’m intrigued to see what it’s truly capable of. One critique of BCC Particles is there seems to be too many one-use effects such as Snow, Comet and Sparks. Rather than combining them into one effect, I find Boris sometimes provides too many single-use effects that can make this large suite feel overwhelming at times.
In addition to creative effects, a real strength of BCC 10 is found in the Image Restoration unit. These tools are designed to fix and improve footage. The new Beauty Studio filter can easily smooth skin and remove unwanted blemishes while retaining natural sharpness and contrast. With the integrated mocha, Beauty Studio helps make beauty work relatively painless and will allow editors to do more advanced finishing without relying on an effects artist.
Other new Image Restoration tools include Reframer, designed to be applied to footage shot on a smartphone in vertical position and quickly prepare it for broadcast, and Remover, which is essentially a clone effect to remove logos or unwanted objects.
While there are many good qualities to BCC 10, there are a few weaknesses. The 3D Objects filters have some useful 3D titling and extrusion tools, such as the new Title Studio plug-in. Title Studio is definitely designed more for editors to create lower-third animations or broadcast graphics and opens its own somewhat clumsy interface. Title Studio doesn’t offer much of an alternative to the AE native Cineware plug-in or Video Copilot’s Element 3D, so it may be used by designers creating high-end title sequences.
Overall, BCC 10 is an impressive arsenal of powerful effects ranging from artistic filters and restoration tools to particle systems and 3D objects. With the incorporation of features like mocha and an easily navigable FX Browser, users can quickly achieve their creative goals.
While there are some shortcomings and a lack of polish in some effects, the new annual multi-host subscription option makes BCC 10 a compelling value proposition for professional post facilities, especially considering it will take multiple products from different vendors to equal the depth of this wide toolset.
BCC 10 is available for Avid Media Composer, and Adobe Premiere and After Effects. Host support for DaVinci Resolve, Apple Final Cut Pro and other systems is coming soon. List Price: $595 (annual subscription/multi-host); $1,695 new/$595 upgrade (for Avid); $995 new/$295 upgrade (for Adobe).
Learn more about BCC 10 at borisfx.com.