How the ‘90s start-up put plug-ins on the map and extends post & VFX workflows.
(Original post: Post Magazine by Linda Romanello)
Boris FX recently introduced its most significant release to date, Boris Continuum Complete (BCC) 10, the first release since the company acquired Imagineer Systems about a year ago. The new plug-in package is not only the company’s largest and most complete, with tools for all aspects of post — creative, technical and finishing — but it also includes Imagineer’s popular mocha planar tracking and masking as integrated technology.
According to company founder Boris Yamnitsky, “BCC 10 is our first joint release with both dev teams contributing heavily. We took mocha, which was a standalone application, and embedded the powerful tracking engine into hundreds of BCC filters, giving users awesome effects capabilities. My vision of Continuum Complete has always been to be a very comprehensive package. The package should address every growing need post production teams have in their work process, including image restoration, masking & tracking, keying, 2D & 3D motion graphics tools and lots more. We have achieved that goal with this release.”
Here, Yamnitsky speaks exclusively with Post about the company’s path from a ‘90s start-up to its current success.
CHANGING THE POST LANDSCAPE
Boris FX was founded more than 20 years ago and throughout that time has played an integral role in changing the landscape of digital post production tools. As one of the original plug-in developers, Boris FX identified key areas that were missing from host editing platforms such as Avid, Media 100, Final Cut Pro, Adobe and others. This included 3D graphics and animation tools, image processing for visual effects, and numerous custom designed plug-ins to fill in the gaps that, according to Yamnitsky, were present in the host applications: transition effects, keying, stabilization, color correction and creative “stylize & looks” filters.
“This is when nonlinear video editing was just starting out and Avid and Media 100 began to displace online suites,” says Yamnitsky. “It was a very exciting time for a lot of people because, as you know, it created the desktop video market where people could literally create professional broadcast projects in their bedrooms.”
Boris FX helped define this new “paradigm” by developing the specialized plug-ins required to make the transition to nonlinear and software-based post tools a reality.
“Before Boris FX, there was essentially one plug-in package for After Effects made by Cycore, a Swedish company. After Effects, itself, was very much a start up at the time too,” continues Yamnitsky. “Professional editors were eager to move into NLEs. We were the very first plug-in package for the NLE space and I specifically wanted to focus on products that would be relevant to television and film editors or broadcast designers.”
The industry (both manufacturing and end users) has continually turned to third-party developers like Boris FX and Imagineer to “fill” those gaps and create new tools and workflows that post requires.
Boris FX technology has since been bundled with products by Avid, Apple and many others, and the company has developed a huge base of professional editors working in broadcast television, film, commercial and corporate/industrial markets. Its flagship product, Boris Continuum Complete, is used by major broadcasters such as NBC, Disney-ABC, CBS, HBO, ITV, CBC, Turner Networks, Viacom and numerous studios and post facilities, including Technicolor, Deluxe and many more.
“BCC 10 offers an immense toolkit of plug-ins that help our online editors complete finishing work on shows, docs and commercials,” says Alan Maynard, online editor/colorist at Raleigh, NC’s Trailblazer Studios, which uses both BCC and mocha Pro on commercials and broadcast shows. “The Boris package contains a specific tool for just about any task, and the plug-ins work well within our Avid workflow. BCC helps us improve the look of select shots, often reducing the severity of troublesome issues that can arise in docu/reality-style shooting. Shots enhanced, or outright salvaged by a BCC effect, allow us to keep the client happy, and ultimately save time, money and increase the aesthetic quality of the program.”
Maynard continues that he uses the new Fast Film Process and FX Browser to preview the thousands of custom presets included in BCC 10. “It is a great jump off point for creative looks. If I have a highly stylized project, I like to browse through the long list of bundled presets to find inspiration for a more complicated correction.”
According to Seth Buncher, finishing editor at PostFactory in New York, “I get a lot of variety thrown at me from films and television shows to Web-only series and commercials. It all depends on the day. At this moment, I’m honored to be working on A&E’s long-running [series] The First 48 and on the monumental 7.5-hour documentary O.J.: Made in America. The signature for these types of programs is mixing and matching frame rates, resolutions, aspect ratios, bit-depths and, more generally, quality. Boris Continuum is my go-to toolkit for weaving archival materials and acquired footage with well-lit and well-shot interviews.”
THE IMAGINEER ACQUISITION
Similarly to Boris FX, Imagineer Systems, the UK-based developer of mocha, has made a significant impact on the visual effects and film industry with its highly popular mocha Pro planar tracking tool. An Academy Award-winning technology, mocha has been used on thousands of feature films, commercials and television shows, including Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens, Harry Potter, Birdman and the HBO series Game of Thrones.
By the end of 2014, Boris FX made a major industry announcement — that it was acquiring Imagineer Systems and the company’s mocha Pro. At the time of the announcement, Yamnitsky had said, “Imagineer Systems has the best-of-breed motion tracking, masking and rig removal technology. Both Boris Continuum Complete and mocha Pro will greatly benefit from merging our resources and technologies, as will the many mutual customers we serve.”
While historically, many acquisitions have gone poorly, with the parent company either killing off a popular product or terminating its staff, Boris/Imagineer has completely merged and is sharing technical, marketing and support resources to positively improve products and services for both customer bases. Beyond adding mocha technology to BCC, there are numerous examples, such as improved customer support and substantial online training content. Now Boris/Imagineer is even collaborating to develop new tools for 360/Virtual Reality post.
“I use mocha Pro because it is easy to use and incredibly powerful,” says Aaron Sorensen, commercial director & VFX artist. “mocha Pro is my go-to for rotoscoping, tracking and object removing. Because mocha Pro is a planar tracker, it does a far better job than most trackers, giving me incredibly accurate tracks. BCC and mocha Pro together definitely save me a lot of time, while giving me photo realistic composites.”
Aaron Sorensen used mocha Pro & BCC on this commercial for Game of War.
Imagineer is also leveraging the Boris FX relationship to bring mocha to new editing and finishing customers. According to Boris FX/Imagineer CMO, Ross Shain, “mocha Pro 5 completes a great story for the merger. mocha has long been recognized as an essential tool in the visual effects workflow; consequently Avid and Premiere editors have been asking for mocha support for years. Through collaboration with Boris, we now have a mocha Pro 5 plug-in that editors can run directly inside Media Composer or Premiere Pro. The feedback from the editing community has been super positive.”
INSIDE BORIS CONTINUUM COMPLETE 10
Having completely integrated the resources of both companies, Boris FX just released BCC 10 in what Yamnitsky describes as the most evolved version of the company’s flagship product yet. “I want to share the message that BCC is the largest and most complete plug-in package available on the market today,” stresses Yamnitsky. “BCC has unique features for previewing effects (FX Browser), isolating effects (PixelChooser/mocha), and even animating effects (Beat Reactor and onscreen UI controls).”
The joint effort includes major new features:
- Integration of mocha: Planar tracking and masking tools are now integrated inside every BCC filter.
- Image Restoration: Beauty Studio for digital makeup, Magic Sharp, Remover, Reframe, Flicker Fixer and more.
- Title Studio: A new 2D/3D titling tool, brings motion graphics and 3D model import to the editing timeline with GPU-accelerated previews and rendering.
- New Effects and Transitions: Video Glitch, Light Leaks, Cross Melt, Cross Zoom and more realtime creative transitions and presets.
- BCC 10 is available for Avid and Adobe, and is now shipping for OFX (Blackmagic Resolve and Sony Vegas Pro) with upcoming support for Nuke, Fusion and more.
According to Tal Y, colorist & online editor who works predominantly on reality shows for the major networks, including ABC’s Dancing with The Stars, Fox’s American Grit, NBC’s The Wall and TBS’s Separation Anxiety, “I am a big fan of BCC. I have been using BCC since it was bundled with Avid Symphony. BCC 10 has introduced the mocha engine into the mix. Now all of these very useful plug-ins I have been utilizing for some time just got elevated in the most wonderful way. With the mocha tracker, I can create masks and track things extremely fast and accurately. Fixing shots that would take hours or at times wouldn’t even be possible without sending it out to a VFX house just a few months ago are now a day-to-day part of the process inside Avid. Standalone mocha as a plug-in inside Avid will increase productivity and what I can offer my clients even more. Post production is an ever-changing business environment, and anything more I can offer my clients is a plus. BCC is another great tool that helps me along that path.”
“Today, BCC 10 customers have twice as much software as BCC 9 customers, and at the same price,” says Yamnitsky. “We did not change the price point, just the scope of the software, which is much larger. This is what happens with a good product. If you look at other significant products on the market, such as Blackmagic Resolve or Adobe Premiere and After Effects, they are constantly improving the products. I’m taking my queue from the best in the market. With the BBC 10 and mocha Pro 5 releases, we are just tipping the iceberg. We have so many other ideas for the future.”