Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 01/22/09 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Compositor's Toolkit from Digital Juice

The Compositor's Toolkit is an awesome deal for an excellent product By Kevin McAuliffe

As difficult as compositing using After Effects, Shake or Combustion might seem, sometimes it might just be the easiest part of your job. The hardest part is gathering elements to bring what's in your head to life. You either need to spend ridiculous amounts of money per shot, or you have to rent all the gear to shoot it yourself. Who has the time or money to do that? One HD shot of a "Cloud Chamber" from Art Beats is $300 for a 1920x1080, thirty-six second shot. Ouch, my pockets are already aching! That's where the Compositor's Toolkit (CT) from Digital Juice (DJ) comes in. The CT is a 26 disc "toolbox" of elements to really make your compositing projects rock! Let's see if it's worth your money.

What you get
Normally I look at the installation of the product first, but this time I want to look at what you get, as that is really the "meat & potatoes" of what you are paying for. You want elements? Well needless to say, you've got them. . . a lot of them! Here's what comes in the CT:

10 Cloud Chamber Elements
13 Coarse Particle Elements
26 Destructive Elements
20 Fabric Elements
16 Fine Particle Elements
20 Glass Break Elements
36 Ink Chamber Elements
25 Magic FX Elements
22 Paint Splash Elements
17 Paint Throw Elements
14 Rain Elements
13 Smoke Billows and Blast Elements
11 Smoke Wisp Elements
12 Snow Elements
14 Water Texture Elements

In total, you are looking at 269 elements. Normally, I would say that if you want to see all the elements head on over to the DJ website, but I'm not going to say that this time, because DJ has done something a little different than everyone else. I don't know about you, but I get annoyed searching through pages and pages (and pages and pages) of elements on a website trying to choose the one that is right for me. Well, thanks to the "Juicer," I don't have to!

Most people would think that with a package like this, you would get your 26 discs, put each disc in one at a time, and copy everything off disc by disc. Man, that would be long and cumbersome putting each of the 26 discs in one at a time! That's where the Juicer comes in. The Juicer is the core of everything that is available from Digital Juice and is not only a preview program where you can look at every element that DJ sells, but it is also where you will do a lot of your work with the Compositor's Toolkit.

Even if you don't currently own any DJ products, you should head over to the DJ website and download Juicer 3.3, as it will give you an idea of the entire library of backgrounds and clips that DJ has to offer. Once you have downloaded the Juicer from DJ's website, install it and launch the application. You will probably be prompted to download any and all updates, which I highly recommend.

Once inside the Juicer, you can preview clips in any package by selecting what you want from the left drop down, then clicking on the clip to preview it. Juicer will stream a super low-res preview from the internet for you to look at (you can change this in the Preferences if you would rather have the Juicer download the clip instead).

The Juicer also let's you preview in a few different types of views, and you can toggle the "Show Matte" check box on and off to see which elements come with an alpha channel (which is a lot of them).

You can even preview the clips at multiple speeds including real-time, slow and very slow, which is extremely helpful.

Now, you need to "Install" the Compositor's Toolkit to work with it. Installation is very simple. Launch the Juicer, and put the first disc of the Toolkit in your drive. Once it is there, navigate to FILE>INSTALL PRODUCTS.

Since I have a fast Internet connection, I'm going to preview all the clips from the Internet, but if you are working on a system that has a slow connection, or you are on a LAN that the administrator has your Internet locked out, you can download the previews off the first DVD, so the Internet is not an issue.


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