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Trapcode Shine, 3D Stroke and Sound Keys

Three excellent After Effects plug-ins from Sweden By Paulo de Andrade
Click image to watch the movie.
Shine, 3D Stroke and Sound Keys are three excellent Adobe After Effects plug-ins by Trapcode, a Swedish company run by Peder Norrby, who was part of the Cult Effects development team at Cycore. As I have pointed out on previous articles, some of the most creative and practical plug-ins these days come from smaller companies and these three are no exception.

Shine, 3D Stroke and Sound Keys are available for Windows and Mac, with special versions for OS X. Shine and 3D Stroke work with After Effects 4.1 and higher while Sound Keys requires at least After Effects 5. Shine also works with Discreet Combustion. All three plug-ins are very reasonably priced, with Shine and 3D Stroke costing USD $79 each and Sound Keys priced at USD $89.

Shine running as an After Effects plug-in in Discreet Combustion.
Shine has become a very popular plug-in in the professional world. It's been used for feature film special effects, opening titles, television program opens and a lot more. It's definitely one of those must-have plug-ins for your collection. It simulates high-quality volumetric light effects, pretty much like those produced by advanced 3D animation programs. But, unlike volumetric effects in 3D, Shine doesn't require long render times to produce its outstanding results. That's because it does it all in 2D space, resulting in in faster calculation times without compromising the final look. Shine does 16bit per color processing, if you so require, or you can work in 8bit.

Shine offers plenty of controls and allows you to use any of your program's layer transfer modes for different effects. Some of the controls include ray length, light boost, shimmer amount and detail, 3 and 5 color gradients, light source position, etc. Shine also gives you a circular mask with adjustable radius and feather. The effect can be based on lightness, luminance, alpha, alpha edges, and any of the RGB channels. Every control may be keyframed.

A simple After Effects mask is all it takes to generate very interesting results using 3D Stroke.
One of the main advantages of using Shine instead of 3D volumetric light effects is speed, both setting up the effect and rendering. To give you an idea of how fast it works, setting up the scene for the sample movie took no more than a couple of minutes, thanks to the instant feedback given by Shine. Rendering the 90 frames in Combustion took just 12 seconds on a dual 800MHz G4. This type of speed allows you to fine tune the effect to achieve perfect results, even when you are in a hurry. This is definitely not the case when using a 3D program for volumetric effects.

Another advantage lies on the fact that you can use any composite element for the effect. In the case of logos, it's a lot easier to import them into a composite app than it is to do it in 3D. Same thing applies to text, since you can use any font that's available in your computer. Additionally, because Shine works directly on any layer, you can also use it for very interesting effects such as blurring out regular footage as if you had a constant ?whip zoom going on. Or you can even use it as a transition between different shots and/or camera angles. You can also use the volumetric effect on parts of the image based on luminance alone. I once did that to an extreme close-up of an eye and the result was a very creepy image, perfect for a horror movie because it looked as if the eye had a hole and some form of energy was leaking from it.

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Related Keywords:Shine, 3D Stroke, Sound Keys, Trapcode, Adobe After Effects, Combustion, compositing, plug-in, plug-ins, effects, volumetric lights

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