In the tutorial section of the e-magazine and on the website, I have been placing clips showing how to use various plugins from various places. One of the major ones is Maxon which publish a huge array of different plugins. One I use regularly is Universe, and as Maxon has a special deal 50% off on for Universe during Cyberweek, I thought I’d give a run-down of what it is, so you can grab the trial version and have a play.
For those new to this, here is some background info on what plugins are and how they work.
By itself, Adobe After Effects is a pretty amazing. I’ve been dabbling with it on and off since the turn of the century. I do not profess to be an expert by any stretch, but I can make it do what I want it to for the menial jobs I require.
I admire those folk that can sit down with it and whip up a scene from Lord of the Rings in 20 minutes!
But thankfully, if you are also somewhat also graphically challenged, or alternatively, know After Effects really well and can quote every keyboard shortcut off the top of your head, but want to expand your skillset, there are plugins available to assist in a myriad of ways.
As I mentioned, one of my favourites is from Maxon, the makers of the 3D modelling and motions graphics package, Cinema 4D, and is called Universe.
Universe is a collection of 89 GPU accelerated plugins that collectively cover a multitude of areas from Text to Textures and Retrograde footage to Reframe with animated picture-in-picture and much more besides.
The effects and transitions are grouped under specialist headings and these are Stylize, Motion Graphics, Transitions and Effects and Text Generation. As well as the four modules under these headings I have already mentioned, others include Warp, Logo Motion, Socialize and Type On.
Using these allows you not just enormous freedom for your creativity but can also hugely speed up the time it takes to get a certain effect.
I remember well when The Matrix movie was released, and everyone who had access to a copy of After Effects (AE) tried to mimic the effect of the cascading green numbers – and it proved a lot harder than it looked. I don’t think anyone in the After Effects newsgroups I was a part of, managed to master it, not even the famed Trish and Chris Meyer, the AE wizards.
But using Universe I can see for example that the module Text Tile would allow this to be built very quickly. Or, and another favourite here, rapidly create one of those scrolling computer screens the news services are fond of showing us when they do stories about hackers.
If you are into sci-fi movies and want to create what sci-fi aficionados know as a HUD – that overlay image inside the helmet of the hero space warrior showing all sorts of data – there is a module for that too, all totally customisable.
There is serious stuff there too of course, with tools to create transitions to creatively go from one scene to the next, add lens flares, create alpha channels, fix “fisheye” lens distortions and blurring sections of footage such as people’s faces, vehicle licence plates and so on.
You can see the complete list of all the modules here.
One of the great things I like about Universe is that unlike a lot of plugins, it also works with most of the major video editing packages, so if you are not in the Adobe ecosphere – you might use DaVinci Resolve, Vegas Pro, AVID Media Composer or Final Cut X on the Mac – you still have access to them. You can check the compatibility of your setup here.
This means if I am doing something quickly in Vegas Pro – I regularly create short 30 seconds clips – or doing something longer form in Da Vinci Resolve, I can still access any of the Universe modules.
I mentioned at the start there is a trial version you can download, and you get it for your editor (or AE of course) at https://www.maxon.net/en/try.
Universe is a subscription system for AUD$29.20 a month but at present during Cyberweek, Maxon has made it half price using the code CYBERDEAL2022