Genesis V2 Pro at a Glance

Maker: Future Fantastic
Price: $150
Platforms: Macintosh and Windows
Demo Available: Yes
URL: http://www.future fantastic.com

Overall Impression: This is a powerful tool for creating lighting effects. I still have not explored all of this plugin's features. Stability is an issue, but the tradeoff is complete customizability and the power to do just about anything you want with light.

Key Benefits: This plugin has a lot of options that you can explore for creating a broad range of effects. Lighting can be applied as an object or as a glow, with wisps, starbursts or any number of shapes seeping in through your image.

Disappointments: This is some seriously crashy software in the Mac version. (I have not tested the Windows version.) The downloadable presets available from Future Fantastic's site are available only in Windows format. They'll work on the Mac, but they will also crash you if you make too many changes.

Recommendation: If this thing didn't crash so much, I'd give it a strong buy recommendation. But I also can't give it a negative recommendation because, for some of you, the crashes will be worth the effects you can pull off. So I'll rate it at neutral for now and hopeful for the future.

REVIEW APRIL 18 , 2001
Future Fantastic Genesis V2 Pro

Special lighting effects for Adobe Photoshop

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

I first encountered Genesis V2 Pro just a few months ago when I was compiling a guide to commercial Photoshop filters. I had left it off the list because I had never heard of it. So a reader wrote in and said, "Man, you have to check this out," or something like that. So I did. True story.

What I found was an incredibly powerful plugin for Adobe Photoshop whose sole purpose is to generate lighting effects and related special effects, such as glowing fogs and the like. Probably familiar to those of you who come from the 3D side of things (3D Studio Max or NewTek LightWave), Genesis V2 Pro is, nevertheless, relatively new in its form as a plugin for Adobe Photoshop and not even a year old as a Photoshop plugin for the Macintosh. (It was introduced for the Mac back in May 2000.)

When you think of lighting in Photoshop, you no doubt bring an image into your head of cheesy lens flares or glows that can easily be created using Photoshop's built-in tools. This is not at all what Genesis V2 Pro is about.

What's it about then?
Genesis V2 Pro creates lighting effects that nothing else comes close to. If you take a look at the examples below, you'll see what I'm talking about.


Above you see four different types of lighting effects generated from some of the presets you can download from Future Fantastic's site. The presets are in PC format, but they'll work in the Mac version as well. (But see below under the "Performance" heading for stability issues.)

But the plugin doesn't stop there. Obviously its use would be fairly limited if it just created objects like those seen above. It can also be used to insert lighting into the image based on color samples from the image. In other words, you can assign a color to which the lighting effect will be applied, and then allow it to feather out from there. You can see in the interface shot below how the active area appears in its original color, while the rest of the image is masked off.

It also gives you an unusual amount of depth in the parameters you can assign to each individual light object. You can select a preset from the effects window (above) and then edit it (below), or you can create an entirely new light from scratch.

The interface above is the edit window, where you assign parameters for your lights. It looks a bit ... technical at first glance, but it's actually quite simple. You'll be able to figure things out pretty quickly just by playing around with parameters and adding new effects.

Performance
Genesis V2 Pro is definitely quick—actually instant—which is quite surprising considering all the calculations it has to go through. I tested this out on two separate Macs using Photoshop 5.5 and 6.0 running OS 9.0.4. In both cases, this plugin crashed hard. Sometimes it would just crash itself. Sometimes it would take down Photoshop with it. And sometimes it would even take down my whole machine.

I believe this program was written in Think C/C+. I say this because the opening tutorial in Think C is a little exercise in which you learn to make a program that prints the words "Hello World" on your screen. This also happens to be the message you get in Genesis V2 Pro when it encounters an error. That's not good.

Other problems include buttons failing to behave as they should, such as the "Cancel" button doing nothing, and general bugginess, such as alerts that don't go away and screens that fail to redraw.

The bottom line
Genesis V2 Pro is unquestionably the most powerful tool available for creating lighting effects. I wish only that its stability were improved so that I wouldn't have to experience crashes whenever I felt like doing some unique lighting. For the stability issue alone I can't give this program a strong buy recommendation. I'm even hesitant to give it a buy recommendation. But it really does do some nice effects. I also can't say whether it's this buggy on the Windows platform, since I haven't tested it for Windows. It's probably much more stable there, since it's been around so much longer for Windows. But I can't say for certain. So I'll compromise and give this a neutral recommendation with the caveat that it will crash you, so make sure you save often. I hope also to see the bugginess worked out in a future release, at which point this plugin will certainly merit a positive recommendation.

Genesis V2 Pro is available for £99 (about $150, depending on the exchange rate). For more information about Genesis V2 Pro or to download a fully functional demo, visit http://www.futurefantastic.com.

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, Digital Media Designer, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Plug-in Central, Presentation Master, ProAudio.net and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.
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