Post Production

Plug-Ins 101


image by rpongsaj

A plug-in is a mini-application that “plugs into” or expands a host application (like After Effects), allowing it to do more. When trying to explain this to a friend who does not work in postproduction, he came up with a car analogy. You can buy a basic model of a car and upgrade it with an aftermarket exhaust system with dual tailpipes, a GPS, power windows, nice rims, a higher quality sound system… even fancy wiper blades and all-weather radials. You can detail the car with pinstripes and bumper stickers and cut a sunroof in the top. Adding a remote car starter and airbrushed flames are the equivalent of adding a better keyer and a particle system to After Effects! You’re making improvements and expanding the usage of an already great product.

Why You Need Third-Party Plug-ins

Sure, you do get loads of great plug-ins with After Effects but try building an incredible lens flare like you can in Video Copilot’s Optical Flares with the plug-ins that ship with After Effects. You cannot even come close to the speed, complexity, flexibility, and beauty that the plug-in provides. How about

removing a moving element from your shot? You could rotoscope it and manually paint the background in, but how long would that take you? With Boris Continuum Motion Key, you can do it in minutes. How about particles? Adobe’s Particle Playground, let’s be honest, is pretty lame. It can’t compare to

the awesome power of Trapcode Particular or the ease of use of Wondertouch particleIllusion by GenArts. Your time is valuable. If you are able to save two hours with a $299 plug-in that you can use over and over on different projects, isn’t it worth every penny? Plug-ins will save you time, money, and, quite often, your sanity. This book showcases the best of the best: unique, time saving, useful effects that you won’t be able to work without.

The director, cinematographer, and screenwriter Anthony E. Griffin summed it up nicely “What is your personal time worth? If you think about it from that perspective, the software is not a crutch, but is a tool to get the work done in a time frame. And if you have a strong story, it can be supplemented by tools to make it more stylish.”

Excerpted from Plug-In to After-Effects by Michele Yamazaki ©2011 Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved

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