GenArts, venerable maker of premium VFX tools, has launched Sapphire 9, packed with new presets and features, as a free upgrade for many of its current users.
Just as there is stratification in the camera market, the market for VFX plug-ins is similarly spread over a spectrum from hobbyist products to premium products suitable for professional use and workflows. While GenArts makes ease-of-use plug-in suites for some popular editing systems, these are simplified versions of its full Sapphire suite, which has always been positioned for the high-end.
GenArts has just released the latest iteration of its powerful VFX suite, Sapphire 9, for use in leading editing and compsiting programs. There are intriguing improvements mixed in, including a 'Cut to Dissolve' tool that transforms a straight cut to a dissolve, using optical flow technology to provide the missing frames. This effect would be valuable anytime a clip lacks handles from the source. 'RepairFrames' purports to do what one would expect, fixing dead pixels and other damage automatically. Here's a list from the manufacturer of new effects and updates:
- BokehLights: Generates beautifully complex and creative patterns of defocused lights that animate and scale over time.
- NightSky: Astronomically accurate star field renderer. Specify date, time, and location to generate correct nighttime skies.
- Aurora: Produces swirling patterns similar to the Aurora Borealis. Many different modern, subtle, and abstract looks can be easily achieved.
- InfiniteZoom: Creates a hypnotic, spiral effect similar to infinite regression.
- CutToDissolve (transition): Replaces a straight cut with a dissolve seamlessly by generating missing frames using optical flow technology.
- RepairFrames: Fixes any damage (bad pixels, dropouts, random noise) in a frame automatically.
- Builder Improvements: Multiple transition nodes and animation curves enable more power and freedom for building cutting edge custom effects.
With Sapphire 9, GenArts has revamped the builder, making it more flexible and useful. According to Brian Fox, Product Manager and Creative Director for GenArts, the company has "added new compositing tools to better facilitate the creation of complex effects, including easier ways to blend images, work with alphas, and offset elements over time. We've also added animation graphs to all parameters in S_Effect, to take care of basic keyframing needs. And in S_Transition, you can now combine multiple transitions for more creative results."
Free for some
GenArts is offering Sapphire 9 as a free upgrade for certain users. Anyone on a subscription plan will receive the free upgrade, as well as 'Upgrade and Support' customers. The company bundles one year of 'Upgrade and Support' for those purchasing a Sapphire license, so if you've made that purchase in the last year, you probably qualify for the free upgrade. Those that pay for on-going 'Upgrade and Support' will also receive the free update.
Sapphire 9 marks the shortest time between releases of the VFX plug-in suite. GenArts, along with other VFX plug-in manufacturers, are laboring to give their users as much value as possible, which makes the current climate a winning one for editors and visual effects artists (at least in this regard).