Boris Red 3GL test and review

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Boris Red 3GL

Adding sophisticated compositing effects to footage will usually entail forking out for an advanced application and, worse, learning to use it. Boris Red 3GL works as a plug-in with a host of editing programs - and promises results with a minimum of fuss.

Timeline editing programs have become pretty powerful over the years, even for creating multi-layered effects. But for full control, a fully-fledged compositor such as After Effects has usually been a necessary companion. The problem is, this requires switching footage between applications, often entailing time-consuming format conversions. If a real-time editing system is being used for the lion's share of the work, then that can be a real workflow inhibitor. Wouldn't it be easier if the compositor ran from within the timeline editor directly, as a plug-in?
This is where Boris Red comes in. The original Boris Effects plug-in was a powerful piece of software, capable of layering and 3D. But, to satisfy professional needs, the company produced Red. Similar to Boris Effects, but a lot more powerful, Red also integrates the titling power of Boris Graffiti - and it works both independently as the Boris engine and as a plug-in for a huge selection of popular editing programs. A freely distributable keyframer can even be used on any compatible Windows or Mac system to design effects, but it has no rendering abilities, so the keyframe file will need to be loaded into a full system for final output. The new 3GL version of Boris Red adds support for the Adobe Digital Video Collection - Premiere Pro and After Effects 6 - and Sony Vegas 4 but, unlike Red 2.5, it doesn't support Canopus Edit or Discreet Combustion. Otherwise, the immense catalogue of possible host apps remains. It's worth checking the online support list ( but most of the likely candidates are on there.

Considering the stiff price of Boris Red 3GL, which places it beyond even the Production Bundle of After Effects 6, only in cases where its capabilities are needed everyday should it be awarded consideration. It's unquestionably powerful, with some unique features, such as the 2D/3D chart animation, and an incredible, almost limitless range of filters and compositing features, but we found in some areas that After Effects could achieve the same effects for less money and (as bizarre as it is to be saying this about After Effects), a little more easily, too. Red's keyframe-level editing, for example, relies on manual Bezier-handle editing in graph mode. Although simple keyframe-level transition options such as accelerate or ease-in/ease-out are available on a parameter level, they act across all the keyframes for that parameter and can't be applied on a keyframe-by-keyframe basis.
If Adobe made it possible to import After Effects compositions into Premiere so that they could be included on the timeline like native Premiere nested sequences, it would steal a lot of Red's thunder. Fortunately for Boris FX, Adobe has only built in this kind of integration for Photoshop PSD documents and Illustrator vector files - and few other software vendors have anything like After Effects up their sleeves to integrate with their mainstream editing apps.
So, for now, Boris Red continues to offer unique compositing power straight from a timeline editor, and 3GL builds on that power. However, it is a little overpriced, now that After Effects Production Bundle and Discreet's Combustion have been repositioned at much reduced price points, making the plug-in convenience something you definitely pay for.

Read the full review in April 2004's Computer Video magazine.


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Boris Red 3GL

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