I’ve previously reviewed a number of Trapcode’s classic offerings, such as Shine, and have always found their plugins to produce extremely high-quality results at a decent price. Trapcode has now come out with a new plugin called Form which stays true to…well...form.
Essentially Form is a particle generator that can create some stunning background loops, lower 3rds, and special effects. It’s easily the most interesting particle generator I’ve ever seen, and there really isn’t any good way to describe what it does. Trapcode says it can be used to “create fluid, organic patterns, complex geometric structures and swirling stringy animations,” but that doesn’t quite do justice to the breathtaking animations it produces.
Ease of Use
Form was extremely simple to install. It picked up my After Effects CS3 plugin directory and all I had to do was hit next a few times and then enter a serial number. I wish all installations went this smoothly.
As far as actually using Form, I’m really divided here. On the one hand, Trapcode includes over 60 incredible presets. I think you could just use the presets for 90% of the work you’d do with this and be more than satisfied. However, once you start delving deeper to customize your animations, things get very overwhelming very quickly because there are over one hundred parameters to tweak (I counted 107, and probably missed some), and that’s not including the parameters used when you integrate AE’s 3D camera. While I appreciate a moderate level of customization, this is just too much! Granted, there are some really great Flash tutorials on the Red Giant website, and I realize that particle generators in general usually have a fairly steep learning curve, but I just can’t imagine anyone needing this level of customization. It’s definitely a case of “too much of a good thing”. To complicate things further, since this plugin produces such unique results, the names of the parameters are often not at all self-descriptive. I doubt that most people are going to understand what the “Transform World” or “Fractal Field” parameters mean without first digging out the manual or sitting through a tutorial. And that’s cool, but just know that there’s a learning curve here that is steeper than most AE plugins.
One feature that does make Form easier to use is a miniature preview window in the effect panel itself. It allows you to see a monotone version of your shape in 3D space. You can rotate around your shape like you would with the 3D camera tool and get a feel for what it will look like from all angles without getting bogged down with hi-res previews in the program monitor.