Tech Corner – A Complete Solution

February 13, 2021

Boris FX has released Boris Continuum Complete (BCC) 2021, a package of VFX plugins for Avid, Adobe, Apple, Blackmagic Design and other software NLE and VFX platforms. As in the past, Boris FX has added a considerable number of improvements, features and bug fixes to the latest release. Title Studio received a minor update where additional 3D models were added, along with ‘texture composite and noise shaders.’

None of that I entirely understand. But Title Studio is a powerful, complex and useful alternative, for example, to the built-in Avid tools. One can start with the hundreds of easily accessible title presets. A complete course on understanding  Title Studio has been created by independent editor Douglas Bruce on his Gaijin-Eyes website, called “Crawling Around in BCC Title Studio.”

Primatte Studio, the analog to Avid’s Spectramatte, has added an ‘Edge Cleaner’ function, to improve chroma keying of very detailed areas such as hair. Not a huge update, but Primatte Studio is a very powerful keying tool, with lots of controls to refine a keyed effect. One of the best parts of BCC’s development has been the integration of the Mocha Pro tracker into many of the plugins. Mocha Pro continues as a stand-alone plugin for Media Composer, Premiere, etc., where it acts like Avid’s Animatte on steroids.

More and more of the BCC plugins use Mocha as a matte/tracker. For example, Gaussian Blur can be added to blur a commercial logo and track its movement through a shot. Or to replace the logo with something else. For that you could use Corner Pin Studio. Corner Pin Studio was upgraded in BCC this past year, and now is a much improved tool for replacing phone screens or monitors. Pictured here is the Mocha Pro interface within Corner Pin. If you don’t have stand-alone Mocha Pro, this is the plugin for screen replacements.

The most substantive addition to BCC 2021 is a category of plugins labeled “BCC+” for easy searching within the host application. These plugins are from Boris FX’s acquisition of Digital Film Tools. DFT was known for having developed numerous “realistic filters for optical camera simulation, specialized lenses, film stocks and grain, lens flares, optical lab processes, color correction, keying and compositing as well as natural light and photographic effects,” according to the Boris website.

Once one of the BCC+/DFT filters is applied to a shot or sequence, one opens up the FX Editor (pictured on page 28). On the left side is a huge number of presets one can choose from. Once a preset is applied, the controls on the far right are for adjusting various visual parameters. The results can be saved as another preset for later. You can compare before and after looks in the center pane.

According to Peter McAuley, Senior Product Manager, “We recently introduced 80 new filters with the latest update to Continuum that we’ve branded “The Cinematographer’s Toolkit.” These new filters include our new FX Editor custom GUI tool that provides a convenient way to create, preview and tweak preset looks before committing them to a shot or sequence, whether that’s modifying a gobo for a diffused lighting effect, generating unique stylized custom lens flares or developing just the right look or grade to finish a shot.”

The Film Stock filter shown above has over 290 presets including Agfa, Eastman, Ektachrome, Fuji, Ilford and Kodak film stocks. Other BCC+ filters include Bleach Bypass, Camera Shake, Diffusion, Infrared, Lens Distortion, Lens Flare, Night Vision, Textures, X-Ray, etc. And there are hundreds of presets Corner Pin Studio included, which can be browsed in the FX Editor. Lots of stuff!

“Prior to being involved in the management of software product development, I spent years in production as a compositor and colorist, which provided me with the fundamentals to understand the needs of the artists that we serve. During my 22-plus years with Boris FX, I’ve managed the development of some truly amazing products including Continuum.”

McAuley is part of the team that develops and supports the software. One very satisfying aspect of using plugins from Boris FX is the support is excellent. Usually, a problem posted on their forum gets a response quickly from the support staff, often by McAuley. One of the support staff is Ben Brownlee: “I’ve worn many hats in my 20 years in production and post. As Boris FX’s Director of Production & Learning, I’m excited to be showing people workflows with Continuum 2021’s new Cinematographer’s Toolkit. These are 80 effects that replicate analog optical filters and techniques.

The only downside is it renders obsolete the many hundreds of dollars of actual glass filters and lighting accessories that I have sitting on my shelf.” Particle Illusion is another BCC plugin that got major improvements. PI generates and manipulates particles, which
could be lines (see photo), rain, fireworks and other real and creative effects. The new release adds 3D. The particles can now operate in a 3D space and the viewer POV (the camera) can move within that space. Increased controls over the action of the particles has been added, with deflectors and turbulence controls. Not everyday editor needs, but very helpful for particular situations. Certainly a rabbit hole you can dive into for hours.

Says Product Manager Alan Lorence: “As the original developer and designer of Particle Illusion, the additions made to it in Continuum 2021 have me truly inspired. I’ve waited almost 20 years to see Particle Illusion create particles in 3D, and it’s so exciting to finally see it happening!” Boris FX as a company has greatly expanded since its founding in 1995. Its expansion began with the acquisition of Mocha Pro in 2014. Then by acquiring the main competition to BCC, GenArts and their flagship software package Sapphire, in 2016. Finally, SilhouetteFX and Digital Film Tools were acquired in 2019. Silhouette is, according to their website, a “non-destructive paint and advanced rotoscoping technology.”

One can license a single package, such as BCC or Mocha Pro, both of which I use extensively. Or you can license everything under one license. Or individual plugins such as Continuum Match Move which contains the Corner Pin Studio component. For my money, BCC really is the complete VFX package for film editors.

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