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Five After Effects Plug-Ins You Need Right Now!

By Kevin McAuliffe

I'm not a big fan of telling someone to run out and buy a plug-in at the drop of a hat.  But, as every editor knows, there are always the "go to" effects that you find yourself going back to over and over again first (for the producer), because they look great, and second (for you) because they are relatively inexpensive.  Here is a look at what I think are the five "must have's" for any editor/motion graphics artist using Adobe After Effects.

5.  Bullnose Mask    Free

This is not really an effect, but an excellent tool to have, as I cannot count the number of times a producer has asked me to do a "rounded mask."  For those of you who don't know what a "bullnose mask" is, imagine a bull's nose.  It's relatively square, with rounded edges.  Anyone who has tried to create one of these in After Effects knows that it is time consuming to create.  Wouldn't it be great to have a quick way to create one, without actually having to create one?  Well, all you have to do is become a registered user of the DMN Forums, and you can download the plug-in for free. 

There is one downside to the plug-in, and that is it is only compatible with After Effects 5.5 & 6.x.  I tried it with version 7.0, and no luck, but for all you users of 5.5 and 6.x of After Effects, register now and download this plug-in.  As an added bonus for all you Avid users out there, there is also a bonus plug-in for you when you sign up, so register now and check it out!

4. Zaxwerks 3D Invigorator Classic    $295

What's the best way to add 3D logos to your project?  Sure, you could go out and hire a Maya or XSI artist to create a stunning logo for you, and pay them lots of money, but why not do the job yourself, and make yourself lots of money?  Zaxwerks 3D Invigorator Classic is an easy to use plug-in, that if you know what you are doing, will help you to produce excellent results. One thing to keep in mind if you are contemplating purchasing this plug-in is that you need to have a basic understanding of vector shapes and Illustrator files. 


You should also have a copy of Photoshop or Illustrator so that you can manipulate your .AI files to perfect them for import into Invigorator.  If you have Photoshop, but not Illustrator, and want to create shapes or logos for Invigorator, check out Ko Maruyama's tutorial on how to use Photoshop to create images ( ).  This is an excellent plug-in that is well worth the price, and is easily recommendable as a "must have" plug-in.


3. Genarts Sapphire Box 1 - Lighting    $599

Genarts has always made excellent plug-ins. The only problem that I have with these plug-ins is that I find their plug-ins to be a little pricey.  Thankfully, about a year ago, Genarts decided to release its plug-ins as "Boxes," so instead of paying $2800 for all the plug-ins, you can choose between four boxes, each at $599.  In my opinion the best box, by far, is the Lighting box. 

Original footage

Genarts Glint

Genarts Glow


Nineteen effects are included in this box, and since Genarts makes one of the best glows in the business, it is this box's centerpiece.  Also included in this box is a Lens Flare (who can live without one of these), an "Edge Rays" effect, which is similar to Trapcode's Shine, and a "Glint" effect which is Genarts version of Trapcode's Starglow. Once again, this package is a little pricey, but for the money there is no better glow in the business, and the other plug-ins are icing on the cake.    

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Related Keywords:after effects plugins, special effects, trapcode, zaxwerks, boris continuum, genarts sapphire box, bullnose


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