Evaluating a video plug-in package is like walking through
a fine art show room. Everyone will have a personal favorite,
but no one will like everything they see. And, of course, the
price has to be right. BorisFX Software's recently released
BCC5 FXPlug for Motion and FCP6 is as close to a perfect art
collection as you'll find. Wide ranging, diverse, and powerful,
this collection provides options for just about everyone's palate.
There are a few disappointments, omissions, and shortcomings,
however -- mostly in the delivery. More on that later.
The package ships with one
hundred eighty (180) filters, transitions, and generators
for Motion 3, and Final Cut Pro 6. BCC5 is compatible with Tiger
(10.4.10), and is being tested in Leopard (10.5). Some plug-ins
acceleration to speed rendering, and others do not. The
company web site provides the specifics. A fourteen (14) day
trial download is available.
BCC5 adds new filters and improves others,
but retains the basic control pane/interface. Several new plug-ins
arguably replace more expensive stand alone applications designed
for the same purpose. For example, BCC5's UpRez
filter converts SD footage to HD formats, and its "pan and
zoom" filter controls movement on stills. However, in my
view, neither of these two features are equivalent to the stand
alone applications they ostensibly replace. Nor are they as
Most new plug-ins come with a learning
curve, but the company tries to assist in a couple of ways.
are available at the web site to explain basic functions
and detail workflow. Second, most new (and retained) plug-ins
include multiple presets that serve as starting points and can
be modified -- a nice feature. Other filters are more mainstream
and familiar, and there are ten specifically identified OpenGL
hardware-accelerated filters in the package.
The Good, The Bad, and The Beautiful. Working with some
plug-ins is not always smooth and intuitive, as I noted above.
For example, the UpRez and "pan and zoom" filters
are emblematic of what is good and troublesome about BCC5.
Up rezzing SD footage to HD in BCC5 is a multistep procedure.
Fortunately, BorisFX provides a instructional iTunes pod-cast
to minimize the pain and explain the steps.
Similarly, the "pan and zoom"
plug is awkward, in part due to the limitations of the FCP interface.
Setting positions, center points, and scaling isn't a simple
task in FCP, or any NLE for that matter due to the absence of
sliders to control these parameters. BorisFX provides tutorials
for both these plug-ins as well as all new filters -- prism,
LED, scanline, damaged TV, turbulence, noise map 2, and color
Most legacy transitions, generations
and effects work uneventfully, and provide numerous controls
and parameters to achieve the look you want. They include glows,
glints and glitters, wire removal, lens flares, "witness
protection," various "damaged" looks as noted
earlier, and a host of new, exotic transitions and filters.
Many are 16-bit. The new de-interlace filter works with 60i
footage and uses a reverse telecine generator to convert 29.97
video footage to 24p with pulldown. Render speeds depend on your
CPU. BorisFX has arranged the control panes to reveal additional
parameters by clicking on a check box in the pane. You then
work in a less cluttered workspace. Help files for each filter
are accessed directly in the filter pane.
Most remaining plug-ins graduated from
previous versions of BCC, and some are accelerated using OpenGL
and Apple's FXPlug
architecture. However, the company informs me that none
are RT due to an issue that Apple is attempting to resolve.
The Activation Process. BorisFX ties product registration to your
computer's unique machine ID. A move to a different machine
or HDD reformat requires a new license code. Contact the company
in advance of either move to minimize down time. I don't like
activation schemes, but I respect a company's right to protect
its property. Multi-seat site licensing packages are available
at attractive prices.
BCC5 is distinctive in the sheer breath of the packaged tools.
While you won't need every filter, there are so many attractive
elections in the package. BorisFX attempt to bundle the equivalent
of standalone apps as part of the package is a mixed bag. While
a nice approach that adds value to the purchase, in some cases
there are trade offs in workflow.
The other consideration is the price
of the package. At $895.00, BCC5 is nearly the price of a full
version of FCS2. I suspect the price is prohibitive for infrequent
users of filters. But before you decide, download the fourteen
day package and give the package a test drive. You may be
surprised. And at about $5.00 per plug in, BCC5 appears pretty
Copyright ©2007 David A. Saraceno
A. Saraceno is a motion graphics
artist located in Spokane, Washington. He has written for DV
Magazine, AV Video, MacHome Journal, and several state and national
legal technology magazines. David also moderates several forums