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Boris Continuum Complete 4

Filter collection for Adobe After Effects and compatible hosts By Dave Nagel
Summary: Continuum Complete 4 is by no means a massive upgrade from Continuum Complete 3. It's not even a massive upgrade over Continuum Complete 2. But it does have a few handy new filters that might justify a $295 upgrade fee--in particular Corner Pin and Motion Key, assuming you can get the latter to work on your footage. As a stand-alone purchase, it's hard to argue with 157 filters, but $795 is pretty steep when you consider that many of these filters are beginning to go geriatric on us. But with its 157 effects, generators and miscellaneous tools, there's bound to be something in this collection for everybody.
Publisher: Artel Software (
Platform: Mac OS X and Windows
Supported Hosts: Adobe After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion 2.0.1 (with limited support), Autodesk Combustion, Eyeon Fusion 5
Price: $795 for the full version; $249 for upgrades from Continuum, Continuum Complete and Boris AE
Users: Motion graphics artists, compositors, video editors
Recommendation: Neutral

Like its predecessors, Boris Continuum Complete 4 is a collection of filters for Adobe After Effects (and compatible hosts) whose main selling point is shear bulk. With its 157 effects, generators and miscellaneous tools, there's bound to be something in this collection for everybody. But beyond bulk, Continuum Complete also offers quality and a degree of control that you don't find in other massive filter collections.

With the release of version 4, Continuum Complete continues its slow trudge forward with more of what we've seen in previous updates to this collection: several new filters, added support for the latest hosts and operating systems and some functionality enhancements. There isn't a whole lot new to justify the $295 upgrade fee from Continuum Complete 3 (which, keep in mind, is about the same price as the full version of Apple Motion 2, one of the semi-supported hosts); but, taken as a whole, this package offers an impressive array of effects and utilities to help you produce motion graphics more quickly and with greater impact.

Now, I've reviewed previous versions of Continuum and Continuum Complete, and I don't want to repeat myself too much here. If you're unfamiliar with the product, I'll give you a little bit of an introduction here and then refer you to previous articles where you can find more basic information about the package. This particular review will focus more on the new features.

A little background
Continuum Complete 4 is a collection of 157 effects filters, particle systems, generators and other tools for Adobe After Effects and compatible hosts. Aside from the huge number of plugins that ship with this package, there's also a very wide range of them. The vast majority of these carry over from previous releases, some dating all the way back to the first incarnations of this product (Continuum and Boris AE). And, as you'd expect, many of these filters are mere padding to boost the total number of filters in the collection to help justify the $795 price tag for the full version. Filters like these include blurs, some of the older color correction tools and filters that once served a tremendously useful purpose with earlier versions of After Effects but that have been superseded in more recent releases that offer this sort of functionality built into the package (like the basic 3D tools).

But Continuum Complete also offers a number of gems--including some of the older filters--that you won't find elsewhere or that are just plain better in Continuum Complete. These sorts of filters include the effects that emulate natural phenomena (fire, snow, rain and the like) as well as some of the more utilitarian filters (various color correction tools, transitions and time manipulation tools).

If I had to categorize Continuum's filters in a single word, that word would be "depth." Beyond the basic effects themselves, Continuum's filters offer an astonishing amount of control (in most cases). Here, for example, is a simple Dust & Scratches filter.

In addition to the parameter dials for the filter, like many other filters in the collection, it also includes a Pixel Chooser, which lets you adjust matte and mask settings for the layer to which the effect is being applied. Many also include Boris' motion tracker, which can be used to automate effects that need to follow an object in the scene as it moves around (much more handy than using AE's motion tracker). We'll get to the motion tracker below in the section on new filters.

Of the 157 plugins in this collection, 28 fall into the category of color and blur filters (such as Colorize, Motion Blur, Safe Colors, etc.); 22 fall into the category of distortion and perspective (Z Space filters, Bulge, Shatter, etc.); 24 fall into the category of "generators" (filters that emulate various surfaces and textures, such as brick, clouds, rock and the like, as well as particle-based filters, such as Snow and Rain); 28 are in the category of "effects" (Burnt Film, Emboss, Film Grain, Mosaic, etc.); 17 are key and matte tools (Light map, Linear Color Key, Wire Remover, etc.); 19 are light-related filters (Glow, Glitter, Spotlight, Lens Flare, etc.); 12 are time-related filters (Posterize Time, Temporal Blur, etc.); and seven are transitions (Linear Wipe, Radial Wipe, etc.)

New filters
Beyond the filters that carry over from previous releases, Continuum Complete 4 offers seven entirely new ones spread out over several categories. The first of these is 3D Extruded Image Shatter. This is a variation on previous scatter-style effects in the previous Continuum collections, but it adds the ability to extrude the shards of the shattered image in 3D space. This is an effect that's simple to use (as with most of Boris' filters) but offers an extraordinary level of depth, with 53 individual adjustable parameters, such as multiple light controls, extrusion depth options, movement, shatter dynamics, wipe effects and other options.

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Related Keywords:borius continuum complete 4, boris fx, review, after effects, motion


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