Review: Buena Video Effects Packs

Buena Video Effects provide great results and standards-compliance (December 13th, 2001)

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Product Manufacturer: Buena Software Inc.

Price: $90.00 ($30.00 per pack)

The Good

  • Inexpensive; easy to install and use; good video effect results.

The Bad

  • Poor documentation.

When Apple debuted iMovie and began putting standard FireWire on all shipping Macs (consumer and professional alike), the rest of the PC industry followed suit spawning the availability of very low-cost video editing workstations. Unfortunately, the effects offerings in consumer-targeted DV applications often leave something to be desired when compared to more expensive packages like Final Cut Pro 3 and Adobe Premiere.

Enter Buena Software's Video Effects Packs, which are broken into three separate collections of effects. Each set contains 10 effects, which can be used through any QuickTime compatible video editing application, including Apple's QuickTime Pro Player 5. Installation is straightforward - plug-ins simply need to be dropped in the QuickTime section of the "Library" folder in OS X and any QuickTime applications need to be re-launched.

Applying the effects is quite a bit more cumbersome than with more expensive video editing applications. Users must select their filter from a dialog box that is presented when a movie is exported. This process makes it much more time-consuming to apply and effect, preview it, then apply any additional editing. Thanks to AltiVec support, however, the full versions of Buena Software's video effects packs tear through video export commands more quickly on a G4 system.

Each Effects Pack includes a full manual in PDF format, which seems to have been hastily created, but fulfills its purpose of explaining each effect and describing the simple installation process. Among the more notable Plug-ins included with each pack are:

Effects Pack 1

  • Camcorder: Produces the illusion of video being filmed through a home camcorder. This is accomplished essentially by placing thin lines across the screen an attaching a "REC" logo to the lower portion of the screen.
  • Color Pass: This effect is used in the film "Schindler's List" and turns a video black and white except for one color of the editor's choice. This effect works fairly well depending on the color chosen.
  • Color Replace: Similar to Color Pass, this effect replaces any one color in a video with another. This effect looks somewhat cheap depending on which color is replaced. Unfortunately, there is no option for selecting all shades of a given color, and multiple export processes must be run if you want to replace several colors.
  • Cool Transitions: A set of four "psychedelic" transitions for moving from one scene to another. These transitions are fairly competent when compared to more expensive video editing packages.

Effects Pack 2

  • Flip: Flips a video horizontally, vertically, or both. This is a simple effect that is a necessity in any video editor's toolkit. Buena's version gets the job done.
  • Jittery TV: This effect makes video look as if it is being played on a broken TV. Buena's implementation of this effect does a good job of blurring and pulling lines randomly across the screen.
  • Psycho Spin: Purportedly produces "psychedelic" spinning effect, but doesn't seem to do much after turning the screen slightly and producing a pulsating light.
Effects Pack 3

  • Motion Filter: This effect allows editors to zoom in our out on a certain section of a video, much like VH1's "Behind the Music" documentaries do. This well-done effect also allows for interesting transition creation.
  • Fractal: Capable of creating Mandelbrot and Julia Sets. This effect produces some nice-looking fractals and can zoom in our out, as well as perform exploration routines.
  • Hollywood Compositing Tools: A set of effects for compositing images. While not as powerful as Final Cut Pro 3 or Premiere, this plug-in can produce simple composites with decent quality.
For $90, Buena Software's full set of plug-ins produce a suite of effects that rival the comprehensiveness, if not always quality, of much more expensive packages. Owners of FireWire enabled Macs who dabble in digital video can't go wrong with this set of plug-ins, which delivers effects used widely in popular movies and television for a very low cost.

Demonstration versions of all three effects packs are available from Buena Software's Web site.

by Ben Wilson


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