The ABCs of Boris Continuum Complete 8.1 – A is for Art Looks

By Jeremiah Hall (doddleNEWS)

I got a few questions about my review of Boris Continuum Complete 8.1; one person wanted to know what the most useful filter was.  Another person wanted to know what other effects were in the collection.

Let me take a crack at the first question.  Filters are dependent on the project.  I may never find a pencil sketching filter useful, until a client asks me to make their video look like the video for a-ha’s classic Take On Me.  Then that filter becomes indispensable.  As for me personally, I’ve used several of the BCC 8 filters from the Film Style group and the Image Restoration group in recent projects.  I’ve also really like the filters in the Keys and Blend group, especially the BCC Matte Choker and BCC Matte Cleanup filters.

Now to the second question, what filters are in BCC 8.1?  I could make a long long list (there are around 200 filters in the collection).  Since the filters in BCC 8.1 are in new groupings by function, such as Keys and Blends, Transitions, etc., I thought I’d choose one group and show an example frame for each filter, along with a brief description of some of the parameters.  Let’s do “A” for Art Looks.

For the Art Look filters, I’ve taken a still from some video I recently shot, and I’ll use that for all of our examples.  As with all the pictures here on doddleNEWS, be sure to click the picture for a larger view.

This is our BEFORE frame of video:

Before

And here are the filters.

BCC Artist's Poster

BCC Artist’s Poster – BCC Artist’s Poster filter breaks down the image into base colors, and processes each one separately.  The colors are Red, Green, Blue, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black and White.  The filter defaults to the NTSC-safe color nearest to those eight.  Users can change various settings, including how the filter divides the colors, compositing another layer or clip with the target layer, blurring, and what to do with black.  This is an interesting feature, because the filter gives you the option of making black from the target layer transparent, replacing it with another color, or replacing it with a clip or layer chosen if you decide to composite another layer/clip in.

BCC Bump Map

BCC Bump Map – BCC Bump Map adds 3D detail based on the luminance of the frame.  You have control over several parameters including the lighting, the height and smoothness of the bumps, rotation of the frame(s), and whether the Tiling style is repeated or symmetrical.  This is one that’s better to work with yourself than to try and just read a description of.  In the above example, notice the way the clouds have a 3D feel.  I set the tiling to symmetrical, which binds the frames together by flipping them so they seamlessly match together.  It gave the resulting image a Rorshach test feel.

BCC Cartoon Look

BCC Cartoon Look – BCC Cartoon Look is a filter designed to give footage the appearance of rotoscoped animation, ala Richard Linklater’s Waking Life or A Scanner Darkly.  There are a multitude of parameters to work with in this filter, giving the artist control over how much detail is in the result, how backgrounds are handled, how much contrast is in the final product, how much the effect is mixed with the original, etc.

BCC Cartooner

BCC Cartooner -  BCC Cartooner draws outlines around edges of objects in the clip.  This is done either by using the red, green, blue, luma, or alpha channel.  You have control over the width and distance of the stroke, how much the resulting image is blurred both pre and post-filter, intensity and color of the strokes, ambient light, how much the result is mixed with the unfiltered original, etc.

BCC Cartooner mixed with the original frame.

For this example, I mixed it about halfway with the original to give you a better idea of what the filter is choosing.  The edges are from the luma of the frame.  I also boosted the intensity to make the strokes easier to see.  I think this filter would be better used on an action shot, like a BMX race.  I’ve seen it used for high school football promos.

BCC Charcoal Sketch

BCC Charcoal Sketch -  BCC Charcoal Sketch imitates charcoal sketches.  Parameters include line style, threshold, width and soften.  The line styles are heavy, medium and light.  Temporal Smoothing is also available.  The above example was done with the default settings – heavy line style with a threshold of 2.5 and a soften of 1.2.

BCC Halftone

BCC Halftone – BCC Halftone simulates halftone dots.  Some of the parameters include paper color, color scheme (black and white, RGB, CMY, or CMYK), both pre and post-blur, brightness, contrast, halftone scale, halftone aspect, halftone smoothing, etc.

BCC Median

BCC Median – BCC Median smears the detail in an object without bleeding the separate objects together.  It does this by making each pixel resemble its neighbors, removing pixels that are too little alike the surrounding pixels, and differentiating between the groupings of pixels that make up an object.  Put another way, a flower will still be recognizable as a flower with an interesting smeared look, but will not get mixed with the sky.  The filter gives you control over mode, channel, median length and width, median level, compositing, mixing with the original and softness.  You can also lock the length and width of the median, as well as decide to preserve the alpha channel.

BCC Pencil Sketch

BCC Pencil Sketch – BCC Pencil Sketch imitates sketches in pencil.  Parameters include temporal smoothing, soften line style, line threshold, line width, line softening, etc.

BCC Posterize

BCC Posterize – BCC Posterize breaks down the shades of color in an image into something more basic.  Instead of having a full 255 different values for a specific color, you can set the filter to only allow, for example, 4 values, which is what I used in the example above.  The filter goes through the different shades and decides which value each color shade is closest to, and changes it to that.  Parameters include red green and blue levels, red green and blue bias, red green and blue softening, locking levels together for all colors, pre and post-blur, and scrambling the output levels of each color channel.

BCC Spray Paint. Please click the picture to get a better look.

BCC Spray Paint Noise – BCC Spray Paint Noise adds a flat colored spray over an image.  Parameters include percentage of pixels affected, paint color, minimum and maximum opacity, and the values given to the random number generator used by the filter.

BCC Tile Mosaic

BCC Tile Mosaic – This filter makes the image look like it was made with glass or ceramic tiles.  Parameters include shape of tiles, gap color and distance between tiles, embossing, and noise.

And finally -

BCC Water Color

BCC Water Color – BCC Water Color emulates the look of water colors.  There are quite a few different parameters, from temporal smoothing to line style.  You can adjust the look created by the filter from a water color painting to something more along the lines of a cartoon look.

These are the filters in the Art Looks grouping of BCC8.1.  If you don’t have BCC8.1, I highly suggest downloading the trial.  You can find the trial version here.  Boris FX also lists each filter’s parameters and uses on their website.

Happy cutting.

About Jeremiah Hall

I am a videographer living in the Cincinnati, OH area. I have over fifteen years experience, with my name on a couple of Emmys and a Murrow or two. When I'm not in front of After Effects or teaching editing techniques, I like to play with camera equipment and as much tech as I can find the time for.

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