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Genarts Sapphire 2 for AVX

An extremely diverse group of plug-ins that every editor can use By Kevin McAuliffe

As an editor and compositor, I know that choosing the right plug-ins for your projects can make the difference between a good final product, and a great one.  When I heard that Genarts had released a new version of its very popular plug-in pack "Sapphire" for Avid's AVX plug-in architecture, I was excited. Let's see how it stacks up.

Installation
Much like most plug-in packages for the Avid Media Composer, installation is quick and easy. You have the option to install the older AVX 1.0 plug-ins, in case you will be passing your offline to a system like DS that does not support AVX 2, which is a great, and handy option to have.


Also, Genarts lets you try your hand at Sapphire for a 21-day free trial, which is also a huge bonus. Overall, once you have downloaded the installer, you should be up and running in about five minutes. Installation: 9 (out of 10)


What You Get
Genarts has put more than 190 plug-ins into its Sapphire 2.0(.5) package. New effects with version two include:

  • FilmDamage
  • Rays (God Rays)
  • Cartoon
  • Cartoon Pain
  • Posterize
  • HalfToneRings
  • BleachBypass
  • DogVision
  • Vignette
  • WarpMagnify
  • BlurMotionCurves
  • ChannelSwitcher
  • GradientRadial

New Transitions with version 2 include:

  • WipeRings
  • WipeTiles
  • SwishPan
  • DissolveGlow

And there are many others. In total, you are looking at more than 45 new effects to complement the vast array of mature effects, including:

  • Glow (probably the best Glow effect out there)
  • Glint
  • Glare
  • FilmEffect
  • Streaks
  • SoftFocus

As well as many others. Genarts has also added some great new features to the plug-in architecture to help editors and compositors with their work, including the capability to crop and transform the input clips within the plug-in, the capability to apply effects quickly and easily to a title or key by simply selecting the "Apply to Title/Key" option.

Many of the plug-ins in the Sapphire package also have a "Mask" input, and the capability to "Clamp to Legal" enables you to create the look you want, without the worry of illegal levels. Genarts has also taken some time to go back over older effects (Glow, Glint, FilmLook), and added additional controls for added functionality. It is very apparent that Genarts has taken a lot of time to include effects and tools within those effects that every editor will find handy. What You Get: 10 (out of 10)

How They Work
When I first sat down to look at Sapphire, I thought to myself that with effects packages that have many  plug-ins, I always seem to find myself searching for effects over and over again.  I also remember a few years back that Genarts had put all their plug-ins into one category.  Sapphire.  And, needless to say, it was a nightmare trying to find things.  I was glad to see that once I fired Media Composer up, and hopped over to my effects palette, that Genarts had organized Sapphire into nine categories for easy navigation.  You will find all of your effects in these categories:

  • Adjust
  • Blur+Sharpen
  • Composite
  • Distort
  • Lighting
  • Render
  • Stylize
  • Time
  • Transitions

Once you take an effect, and drag and drop it onto your clip, Sapphire's effect preset normally gives you a pretty good look at what the effect can do, and if some of the effect parameters look daunting, you can click on the help button, located within the effect, and an effect specific HTML file will open and give you a complete rundown of all the parameters, and what they do. I have to say that I was disappointed that Genarts didn't include any effect presets with Sapphire.  Editors NEED presets with their plug-in packages, as we have all had our back to the wall with a deadline and don't have the time to experiment with our effects to get a new look. We need to be able to quickly flip through a bunch of different samples to see what the effect does, to see if it merits spending the time to create a look for a specific shot. Hopefully, Genarts can have a point upgrade of Sapphire that would include a "Preset" drop down, as I think it would be extremely beneficial, as many competitors already include this with their plug-in packs.

One thing that I like about Sapphire, is that they include an extremely diverse group of plug-ins that every editor can use. I have said it before, and I'll say it again, Genarts has probably the best "Glow" effect in the business, and it's part of this package. Editors will find themselves going back to this effect over and over again, as it gives great results with very quick render times. Genarts has also covered the necessary effects including a film look (which includes various film negatives and film prints to achieve your desired look), various blurs (including a great Soft Blur), Lens Flares and Lightning Effects, as well as a good amount of transitions. Overall, I can easily see editors using 50% to 75% of these effects on a regular basis, and combining these effects (Glow+Scanlines) will create new and great looking results. How They Work: 8 (out of 10)

Price vs Content 
I have to say that I was extremely surprised at the price point for Sapphire, and found the prices to be extremely high. Genarts has broken down the price point depending on the system you are working on, and they are as follows

Xpress Pro or Xpress DV: $1,800 ( $600 upgrade)

MC Adrenaline or Media Composer: $2,800 ($900 upgrade)

Symphony or Symphony Nitris: $2,800 ($900 upgrade)
Xpress or Newscutter:  $2,800 ($900 upgrade)
DS Assist Station: $2,800            
DS, DS Nitris, or DS/Symphony: $4,800 ($1,600 upgrade)
DS Remote Processing, Per Machine: $900 ($300 upgrade)

I was working with Sapphire on a Media Composer Software edition, and to pay $2800 for a plug-in package, for me, seems a little high. Don't get me wrong, I feel that Sapphire is a good package that gives editors a wide amount of tools to work with, but I don't understand why they feel the need to charge different prices for XpressPro/DV vs. Media Composer/Adrenaline/Symphony. This seems to be the trend in the Avid AVX effects business, with companies (and Genarts is not the only one) charging different prices depending on which system you are using, and I understand that the editors working on XpressPro/DV might be working on smaller projects with smaller budgets, but these days, with more and more independent producers/editors, price and value go hand in hand, and I want to get the best possible plug-ins for the lowest price, and I really think that Genarts needs to look at its prices, and give us, the users, a bit of a break.
Price vs Content: 5 (out of 10)

Final Total:  8 (out of 10)

Purchase Recommendation: Buy

Pros
Good, diverse set of plug-ins
Great help menus
"Clamp to Legal" setting
Glow Effect is still the best in the business
Universal Binary for the Mac Users
Supported on all Avid Products for easy off/online's

Cons
No plug-in presets
High price point

Overall, I am impressed with what Genarts brought to the table with Sapphire version 2.0(.5).  The company has given editors a package that they will get a lot of use out of, and if they can overlook the high price point, they will have effects to keep their clients happy for years to come. Head over to www.genarts.com to download a demo version of Sapphire.


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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at kevinpmcauliffe@gmail.com


Related Keywords:Genarts Sapphire 2 for AVX, plugins, NLE plugins, video editing, NLE

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