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Boris FX 6

Integrated effects for NLE programs By Kevin Schmitt
OK, so you're an editor, and your NLE of choice works just fine. Fine, that is, until you have to do anything that involves compositing or effects. So now you have to track down an artist to do something relatively simple, or try to go it yourself by either muddling through whatever your host program happens to offer, or learning an external effects suite on your own. Then what if you need to fix something later? Changes and re-renders can be a logistical nightmare, especially under a tight deadline. Sensing that the preceding scenario might be a common problem for editors, Boris FX (formerly Artel Software) offers up the latest version of its namesake program, Boris FX 6. But before we dive in and get into more detail, I'll go ahead and spoil the ending: I expected better.

What it does
The concept here is pretty simple. Rather than forcing editors to look outside of their preferred NLEs for effects, why not take a few of the more popular NLE programs and create a full-fledged effects package that runs as a plug-in inside of the NLE itself? In a nutshell, that's what Boris FX (the company) calls Boris FX (the program): integrated effects.

When you purchase Boris FX or Boris FX Professional (and which version you need depends more or less solely on how expensive your editing system is), what you're paying for most is convenience. Convenience is the big point of differentiation between Boris FX and external effects packages, because the feature set it offers, while capable, doesn't go above and beyond what you can get elsewhere. But let's not gloss over the convenience factor, because a lot of editors don't have either the time or the skill set to worry about effects, yet still need to deal with them. So what does Boris FX offer in this area? First and foremost, it's resident in your NLE. When you invoke the Boris FX plug-in, you'll find that it's a full program-within-a-program that sits right on top of the host application (fig 1), in this case Media 100i. At first, this is kind of confusing, because it's probably not the type of interface you'd expect from a plug-in. But it is a full program, just for effects, sitting inside your NLE. Chalk one up for convenience. What's more, when you invoke Boris FX, it automatically imports whatever media you had selected in your host program to serve as a starting point for the effect or composition, and then saves its settings to your project in the host program when you're done with it.

Figure 1: Boris FX 6 running on top of Media 100i, although you can't see Media 100i because Boris FX completely takes over.

The second check in the convenience column goes to the Boris FX Keyframer program. Basically, the Keyframer is the full implementation of the Boris FX interface in a standalone application, only lacking in the ability to actually render out the effects (which you need to use the full Boris FX plug-in in your host program to do) (fig 2). Keyframer is freely distributable and cross-platform, meaning that you can build the effects you're going to eventually use in your sequence outside of the NLE environment if you want. This is nice because in a lot of editing setups, the machine that houses the NLE is manned by someone almost all the time, so you don't have to worry about getting time on the editing box to create effects. Just use Keyframer to set up your effect, save the settings file, and then load it up in Boris FX on your editing box when it's time to do the actual edit.

Figure 2: The difference between the plug-in and the Keyframer interface is nothing more than apply and cancel buttons at the bottom right of the program.

The last part of the convenience triumvirate is the Library Browser (fig 3), a place where Boris FX keeps its vast stock of keyframed sequences. There are a ton that ship with Boris FX, and for those that need ready-made effects, it's probably a lifesaver. Effects categories include dissolves, displacements, backgrounds, and more, and are ready to go when you need them in a pinch. Sure, some of them are pretty cheesy, but it's nice to have choices. In addition, any custom effect you make with Boris FX can also be saved as part of the Library Browser and quickly accessed and reused.

Figure 3: Lots o' pre-fab effects are right at your fingertips through the Library Browser.

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