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   Software Review
   Publisher: Sugar FX/Noise Industries
   Platform: Mac Only
   Description: Plug-in for targeting and video

   MSRP: $79

   Download Demo: Click Here
   Samples: Click Here
   Expected Release:Available Now
   Review Date: July 1, 2009
   Reviewed By: Mark Bremmer

Final Score:

Award of SuperiorityRemember when you got your first bicycle? How you couldn’t wait to show your friends? HUD (Heads Up Display) from SUGARfx will have the same effect on you. If you have any leanings towards sci-fi, adventure, espionage or covert operations in your work, HUD will make you feel like a kid in a candy store.

SUGARfx puts plug-in usability first and then tucks so many cool little features into HUD that you will be playing with it for some time and rethinking your storylines to include using it.

HUD is designed to be used with After Effects and Final Cut Studio/Motion and iMovie. Regrettably, it’s a Mac only plug-in that is managed by the excellent Noise Industries plug-in manager called FX Factory. The Quartz Composer’s visual abilities of the Mac platform are the reason that this plug-in in not cross platform so I don’t even know if there is a way to make it cross-platform compatible in the future. As such, PC users might just have to switch to Mac to get their hands on it.

Ease of Use
I love it when developers actually come from the real world. The folks at SUGARfx have done an outstanding job of making our lives easier. Absolutely everything is modifiable, easy to work with and key frame. The plug-in comes with 3 foundational settings: Target, Binoculars, and OSD (On Screen Display). Each of these core areas has a wealth of options and abilities. But here’s the cool part: you aren’t presented with the controls for these options until you enable them. At the very top of the core areas, users are simply shown a preset pull down and check boxes that enable features. Upon activating a feature, the related controls are then displayed. Payoff = no long list of controls to deal with unless you actually need them.

The HUD Binocular core function come with a good array of customizable presets to get users going. In this example, a sequence created with Vue xStream of an attack helicopter turning for attack is easily integrated into the story. The plug-in takes the original image and then adds the requisite coloring. The user can adjust zoom, focus, positioning and size of all elements. Meanwhile, all of the “noise” text and numeric data presentations are dynamically changed and updated. Sweet.

The control sets for each option are clearly labeled (important when you have a multitude of options enabled) and are comprised of a 1-3 sliders and/or input areas for color blending, rotation or anything else relevant to that specific feature.

Users can either use the numeric input controls for moving the various widgets and gizmos around the frame or simply click on their respective anchor points and drag them to wherever they are needed in the shot. Items like dynamic “noise” text continually change line length and wrap. Gizmos spin with smooth variations. On-screen data updates automatically when zooming or working with focus.

All this to say that much automated sophistication is simply laying in the wings and waiting for the user to engage it if desired. The automation can be controlled to the users’ content. It just doesn’t get much nicer than that.

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