Universe, Red Giant Software’s subscription-based plug-in for Adobe After Effects and seven other NLEs and compositing apps, has been updated to version 3.1 and incorporates some interesting new modules.
Red Giant’s Universe 3.1 release introduces three brand-new text and motion graphics tools: Progresso, Numbers, and Array Gun. Together, these have over 90 presets, readily available from the Universe dashboard to help get you started. Also new in this release: 35 new presets in the HUD category. I took a look at the new features with Final Cut Pro X and Apple Motion.
In Premiere Pro and After Effects, Universe has a new dockable Universe Dashboard that brings all of the Universe tools together in one place, making it simple to explore and apply the entire library of effects and presets. However, users of any of the other hosts — Premiere Pro CC 2017 or later, Final Cut Pro X, Apple Motion, Avid Media Composer, Magix VEGAS Pro 14, DaVinci Resolve 14 and HitFilm Pro 6.0 — are not so lucky. The Dashboard — or better, perhaps: the browser — in Final Cut Pro X, for example, is limited to showing the presets and the effects for each parameter, while the entire tool lives in the Effects Inspector with a dazzling array of controls to scroll through.
In Apple Motion, the new Universe 3.1 features don’t work without a footage or image layer as they are categorised as filters, even though you’ll sometimes want to use some of them — the HUD components, for example — without a background at all. And when you think a rectangular shape will do, you’ll be surprised to see that Progresso won’t fit your rectangle nicely, even if it will fit the HD or 4K viewport. That one seems to only work with footage in Final Cut Pro X.
Having said all that, I must admit that Red Giant has succeeded in bringing compositing elements to the Universe that you would previously only find in FxFactory’s Yanobox Nodes 3 which is a lot more complicated to work with — although also still more flexible and powerful.
Nodes 3 does not allow you to quickly and easily create and animate any type of numbers animation, nor will it be easy to show progress animations in any sort of useful shape. Universe 3.1 Numbers and Progresso on the other hand, will. Even Array Gun, a sort of animated and shape-driven grid, will be quicker to get results from. Again, Nodes is more powerful and flexible, but if you’re on a deadline, Red Giant’s solution will be much more appealing.
I guess you won’t be using any of the new Universe features in feature films, except perhaps for the HUD and the Numbers categories, but documentary shooters will love the Progresso effects for their user-friendly implementation and the many appealing designs that can be applied and tried quickly. Equally so, HUD components will appeal to people who are into science-fiction or technical documentaries, while Numbers are probably going to be seen a lot in commercials.
Universe 3.1 runs on Windows and OS X and includes over 80 tools and costs $199 for the annual version or $30 a month. Academic pricing is also available.