Boris FX Sapphire 11 AVX In-Depth Review

Here's for all Avid Media Composer editors wondering whether to make the investment in Sapphire 11 - it's a detail look at the latest from VFX plug-in maker Boris FX. According to this reviewer the benefits are all in the Mocha integration! From Provideocoalition

Never has it been a better time to be an effects and visual effects geek like me. Boris FX has cornered the market on the high end visual effects, with their flagship plug-in package, Boris Continuum Complete, they purchased both Imagineer Systems as well as GenArts, to lock up the best tracking and roto application on the market today, Mocha (Pro/AE/BCC/Sapphire), and they finished their acquisition a few months ago of GenArts, bringing the highest of the high end visual effects into the mix. Boris FX (we no longer say GenArts Sapphire, it’s now simply Boris FX Sapphire 11) has recently released the next version of Sapphire, Sapphire 11, so let’s take an in-depth look, and see if this newest update is worth your hard earned dollars.

This in-depth look ended up turning out a little different than I thought it would, as I actually sat down contemplating the path that Boris FX took with Sapphire version 11, as it’s definitely not a traditional one. Sapphire and Continuum are now Brother and Sister, and it just so happened that when the acquisition of GenArts by Boris FX was going on, both products were at the same version. Version 10, except BCC had a jump on Sapphire that left it lagging behind just a little bit. The year (or so) previous, Boris FX had acquired Imagineer Systems, makers of Mocha. Now, I’m going to assume that the Continuum team was already in development of version 10, so having the Imagineer Systems team step in and develop the Mocha integration, via the Pixel Chooser almost seemed like a no brainer. When GenArts was acquired, I’m going to guess that version 11 was only on the drawing board, and there really could be only one priority for it, and that is get Mocha Integration in there, so that the brother/sister team of BCC and Sapphire were on level playing fields. Remember, as much as you might think that BCC and Sapphire are “Just the same effects in different packages”, you couldn’t be more wrong. BCC has always been an editor’s toolkit. Not only did/does it have effects, but it also has essential tools for you to use to get your jobs done, and in many cases, fixed. Sapphire has always been about visual effects. You need to simulate lightning, Sapphire is your tool. Want to simulate the moon, or the night sky, you won’t find a more realistic effect than S_Luna. Sapphire has also begun to push the boundaries of effects work in Media Composer by giving us a glimpse node based compositing with S_Effect and Builder tool. So, this is where version 11 got me thinking of it not so much as….”full update”, but a “technical update”. The main new feature in version 11 of Sapphire is Mocha Integration. There have been some additional presets added, and overall speed enhancements, but the core feature update is Mocha Integration in almost every effect in the package. I would almost call this update version 10.5, but I completely understand why it’s version 11, to keep it consistent with version 11 of BCC.

There’s something else that I want to mention before we get rolling and talk about the Mocha Integration. Ever since the acquisition of GenArts by Boris FX, I’ve been wondering if we’re going to see a “converging” of some of the elements of BCC and Sapphire, to take some essential tools from one package, and add it to another. Now, when I say “essential tools”, I’m not talking about effects necessarily. I’m talking about things like porting Pixel Chooser over to Sapphire, and the S_Effect (Builder Tool) from Sapphire to BCC. Boris FX has decided against that route, and has built a custom parameter set for Mocha inside of Sapphire. Let’s take a look!


Now, to be honest, I’m not going to spend any time on the nuts and bolts of tracking in Mocha Sapphire, as the concept for tracking is the same across all the version of Mocha. What I do want to do is show you how to get into Mocha once you’ve applied an effect, and what results you should be looking for, along with some of the extra parameters you can get in and adjust from within the Effects Editor interface. Let’s us S_Glow as the example effect to work with as, for me, it’s probably the best glow on the market today. Take the effect and apply it to a clip that you’d like Mocha to isolate a portion of. Once applied, you’ll notice the S_Glow effect on the entire shot.

Regular Sapphire 11 Glow Effect in Media Composer

Not quite what you’re looking for, but bear with me here, and it will make more sense in a minute. You can now click on the “Edit Mocha” button, towards the top of the Effect Editor, to open up Mocha Sapphire (the actual application is called Mocha Pixel Chooser, but I’ll be referring to it as Mocha Sapphire for the rest of this article), and track the area of the shot you want to apply S_Glow to. Once you’re done, simply close Mocha Sapphire (MS), and you’ll now see your S_Glow effect applied to the area of the shot you tracked with MS...[continue reading]

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