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Plugin Galaxy 1.5

Filter effects for Adobe After Effects and compatible hosts By Dave Nagel
There's really no way to describe Harald Heim other than as a Plugin Guru. Aside from the fact that he develops plugins for still and motion graphics applications, he also heads up The Plugin Site, a Web site dedicated to understanding plugin technologies (and, of course, marketing his own products). And, as no small matter of consequence, his writings have expanded my own knowledge of the inner workings of graphics applications, especially Adobe Photoshop, and served as a springboard for my series on creating custom plugins for that application.

Heim has developed several collections of plugins and addons for graphics applications, including Plugin Galaxy, Plugin Commander, HyperTyle, Edge & Frame Galaxy, Photo Galaxy, Harry's Filters (freeware plugins) and others. His latest release, Plugin Galaxy 1.5 for After Effects, is a collection of 21 commercial plugins for producing 129 customizable effects. It runs in Adobe After Effects and After Effects-compatible hosts. Today we examine the software running under After Effects 5.5 in Mac OS X 10.2.2.

In general, the plugins in this collection fall into two categories: tools and effects. Tools include Alpha Tool and Colorize, while effects range from simple effects like Page Curl and Glass to warp effects and color cycle/wave generators. All of the plugins work within After Effects' standard Effect Controls window and provide both preset styles and customizable parameters. All of the effects are remarkably straightforward and simple to use, though they're also deep enough to be useful. Some of the effects, such as Page Curl, are simple canned effects, while others are designed for general-purpose use in compositing, where, in the final result, the plugin is just one part of the overall effect you want create, particularly if you're looking to create abstract effects.

Plugin Galaxy provides a fairly wide range of effects. Nineteen of the 21 plugins in this collection are effect-oriented. I'm not going to cover each one individually, but we will take a look at some of the highlights.

In the category of "funky"effects, Plugin Galaxy includes several. The plugin called Breakfast, for example, generates a variety of color-cycling waveforms. It includes several presets, like "Eggs," "Bread," "Marmalade" and other variations on wave shapes. Below is the "Butterly" example with cycling waves, colors and complexities.

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