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July 2014
Issue: June 1, 2012

Review: GenArts Monster GT plug-ins for After Effects

By: Fred Ruckel
PRODUCT: GenArts Monster GT plug-ins for After Effects

WEBSITE: www.GenArts.com

PRICING: Monsters GT for AE/OFX (floating/serial number), $499

- 55 plug-ins in the set
- Natural Phenomena are my favorites
- GPU-accelerated

GenArts is one of the tops visual effects plug-in companies in the world. They are widely known for their set of Sapphire plug-ins, which set the standard by which other plug-ins are judged. This release of the Monsters GT package sets another benchmark for them. 

Over the years GenArts has been developing plug-ins, they have also acquired a few other companies to incorporate into their arsenal of visual effects. The Monsters GT set is a full suite of plug-ins that have been re-written in the coding style that is GenArts. Many of you may recall a company called 5D Monsters that were a big player in the Autodesk Flame market. Well these are those plug-ins, revamped and optimized for After Effects. For me, the biggest plus with these are that they follow the same structure of menus GenArts is known for, meaning they aren’t clunky menus to dig through. 

I personally used the plug-ins going back as far as 1998 when they were 5D, and I loved them then but hated the menus. Now I just love them for all that they have become: mature plug-ins that work. The Monsters, along with the Sapphire, make for a powerful system with endless possibilities.



DIGGING IN

So let’s get right into the cool stuff, as that’s what people really want to read, although I find its important to also focus on the longevity and maturity of the tools as well. As the literature states, there are 55 plug-ins in the set, however, when you combine different effects in a composition it becomes exponential. For me the Natural Phenomena are my favorites. This pack of plug-ins was known as Speedsix Fluidz a few years back. The simulations on these are very lifelike with lots of controls. Some are more phantasmal as that is the intention of them. 

The heat haze tool can give a great look to a wide shot looking over the desert or pavement, or even on the top of an industrial chimney stack, when mixed in properly you can have a natural fall off that will blend in a comp while looking seamless. If you combine heat haze with the fire plug in you a very natural look. Fire does take some playing with in order to get the realism that you seek, but as an artist we are always playing with fire aren’t we? Fire does have various presets of different kinds of flames, from gas to candle light. I know, who would need a candle right? Well it turns out it looks legit and can really add to a scene. Tip: Add the candle flame, then take the luminance of it, use it as a matte, fill with the foreground and you can have it flicker in the scene to give it more realism. 

The raindrops tool simulates rain running down a glass window, when tracked to the plane, it looks like the real thing. It even creates refraction in the rolling drops to take it a step further. In the pixel trip package, there are three useful tools. These plug-ins take the image and basically turn it into dust in the wind. The look is especially cool when used on type for transitions; it’s basically a particle simulator. It does take getting used to all the controls at first. In a way you play god, in that you have control over the wind, turbulence, swirling amongst all the basic controls that you might be accustomed to.

Under the hood you will find that all the plug-ins are resolution independent, and these days that means a lot as we work at different sizes and intermix resolutions all the time. The toolset is GPU-accelerated to take advantage of the CUDA technology on Nvidia’s newest cards and supports 32-bit float. You can also have unlimited render licenses so you can turn your whole office into a render farm at no cost. They are all backed by the support of GenArts, which has become synonymous with visual effects plug-in through the last two decades.



FINAL THOUGHTS

For $500 bucks you really cant go wrong. These tools all have lots of presets and can add a big impact to your projects at a low cost. They also have a free demo license download so you can see if it fits in your toolset before spending a penny.

Fred Ruckel is an Artist/Creative Director with Rucksack in New York (www.rucksackny.com).  He can be reached at: fred@rucksackny.com.