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Sapphire 8

Genarts Delivers a new, better way to design effects By Ko Maruyama

Sapphire 8

GenArts Delivers a new, better way to design effects


It is no surprise that GenArts Sapphire sparks hold top marks in the world of high end compositing and visual effects, especially among Autodesk Flame and Smoke artists. The newest version, Sapphire 8 offers some spectacular new possibilities to Adobe After Effects artists as well.


While there are new effects for previous owners of Sapphire to enjoy, the addition of Sapphire Builder is something that every serious After Effects artists will be eager to explore.  (Sapphire's Builder is available in After Effects, PremierePro and Media Composer)


If you've been using Sapphire plugins for After Effects in the past, you may be quickly lured to the upgrade with the addition and newly updated features of lightleak, grunge, digital damage, and shake.


Wanna download it and get right to it? Do that here: http://www.genarts.com/


NEW EFFECTS


Lightleak

There are plenty of wonderful stock footage elements that you can purchase to put on top of an edit that will casually give the effect of light leaking into the camera or directly into the shot (not really a lens flare).  The elegant effect is usually something that a visual effect designer will want to craft for each specific scene, judging the color correction of the scene and direction of the camera.  Lightleak gives you an amazing range of control over the smallest details to give you a custom look that you'll never be able to achieve with stock footage.




Grunge

The grunge effect, although new to Sapphire, replaces something you've done in the past, but makes the process much easier, and gives you much more control over the outcome.  Grunge places stamps of texture on your layer to different effect.  In the past, animators have relied on the heavy task of building multiple comps or several precomps to achieve the look that this effect can do in one fell stroke.  The result is very deep control over multiple layers of image application to 'dirty up' a comp.   This is the plugin your horror movie title sequence is waiting for.




Digital Damage

When I started in VFX, the industry was making a switch from film to digital.  Often, directors would want to add some effect to make the image look like bad film.  Now that we're leaving the age of digital tape, it's appropriate to have a strong tool to make things look like bad digital tape.  There are several presets created by the GenArts team that are awesome starting points for you - or use them 'as-is'.  If you've ever made one of these digital glitching effects by hand in the past, you're going to love that so many different types of digital errors are available to you.  It's not just parameters to create bad blocks, but all kinds of tape and compression errors.



Shake

The shake effect is a retooled effect that is an elegant alternative to you having to write a bunch of expressions.  It's a fantastic way to get your image to move without actually changing the layer's position data.  It also shares a fantastic feature (that several Sapphire plugins carry) that allows you to change the wrapping feature from Tile, Reflect, or none.


THE EFFECTS BUILDER

Here's where the rubber meets the road.




The effects builder in Sapphire 8 is for everyone. If you're a previous user of GenArts Sapphire, or if you're coming to it as a seasoned animation and effects designer, looking for something new. The big draw for Sapphire 8 is the S_Effect and S_Transition option in the plugin set.  It allows you to craft your own plugin, using components from the huge library of Sapphire effects.






In the Effect Builder, you can link multiple effects together in a nodal editor to create a single effect, using a simple motion similar to After Effects' own parenting.


How is it different than simple effects stacking in After Effects' effect window?

The strongest argument for the Sapphire 8 Effect Builder vs. the effects window is that you can address different components of the effect or layer without using precomps.

You can also combine the plugins to modify different inputs of a single effect.


THIS IS A NEW WAY TO THINK ABOUT PUTTING PLUGINS TOGETHER.


The nodal editor that Sapphire has built allows you to quickly create different stacks of effects and properties, disconnecting, or reconnecting elements that work for you as your experiment. This is important for VFX / MoGraph / Compositors because the time it takes to create a new look can take a lot of time if you continually need to create new resources to feed a reference file.



S_Effect




Autodesk Flame/Inferno/Fire artists have had the ability to create nodal effects using the GenArts packages for years (over a decade at least).  Now that Sapphire is bringing the power of that type of creativity to After Effects, a new type of effect designing will enter our vocabulary.  For a long time, a certain set of After Effects users have been asking for nodal compositing within After Effects.  The software isn't a nodal compositor itself, but Sapphire 8 goes a long way to bring some of the ideas of nodal effects building into our toolkit.


S_Transition

In this early version of Effect Builder (and Transition Builder), previewing the effect's attributes in the left hand column isn't possible until you get them into the editor window.  Once you get the hang of the names, and start to understand what each of the plugins do, you'll move more deftly through them, but as a first time user you may require a little more discovery time in these dialogue boxes.  I'll have some follow up reviews on each of these in the coming months.



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