My company just asked me how I want to "trick" out my new edit suite. Awesome! So I wanted to know...what is your favorite set of plugins for FCP/After Effects? I can't wait to explore the answers!
Final Cut Pro/After Effects Editor
First, I have to mention that my preference has always been to do all effects, animations, grading, compositing, etc. in AE and use my NLE only as an NLE. So, I almost exclusively use plugins in AE and that's how my answer leans, although most of the same are also available for FCP (for now ... the fleetingness of NLEs compared to AE is one of many reasons for my preference).
Not counting ones like Mocha and Color Finesse that are already bundled with AE, my short list is: GenArts Sapphire, Boris Continuum Complete and almost everything from Red Giant and Zaxwerks (which actually makes the list not so short after all). I've used almost every plugin ever made for AE at least a few times over the years so I can also tell you that all of those happen to be among the largest, widest-ranging and most expensive plugin sets.
I must also mention that this question has been asked very many times in the AE forum and the real answer isn't as simple or straightforward as the relatively short answer I had time to offer at the moment. Search the forum and you'll see what I mean ... there are other excellent plugins and sets, but many tend to be pretty specific to particular project types and/or tasks (like Particular, which is an awesome plugin from Red Giant).
I hope my two pence helps.
It depends on what you need to do? But I would check out Zaxwerks. Nodes is also a cool one: http://www.yanobox.com/Nodes_Features/ Also be sure to take a look at the article on cool free plug-ins for Final Cut Pro. Best of luck.
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As others have mentioned, what plugins would be best for you would depend very much on what you are planning to do. Also, I tend not ot use that many plugins. AE has a very powerful toolset that comes with it. That being said, here are plugins I do find useful:
All of them have been industry standard for some time. If you can't get the whole suite, I consider Particular to be a must-have. Form, Horizon, Soundkeys, and the rest are all very useful too.
Some form of lens flare plugin.
It's like the late 90's: everybody wants lens flares on their logos! Only now, they also want them running around in their footage (for no reason). But, unlike the late 90's, the AE standard lens flare is not good enough.
Knoll Light Factory Pro (available from Red Giant) is the industry standard lens flare plugin, but Optical Flare from VideoCopilot.net seems to be better in that it integrates with AE's 3d space and lights more simply (KLF requires you to find and install an extra scripty/plugin thing to make theirs work with AE's lights) and it includes dirt maps that get revealed when the flare "hits the lens". I have not yet used Optical Flares, but they used it in the latest Transformers movie, so apparently they're ready for the Big Time.
If you're ever going to need an ocean surface in AE, you can't do better than Psunami.
If you don't have access to a proper 3d program, Zaxwerks' plugins are a great way (and the industry standard way) to get great 3d text in AE. Shapeshifter from Mettle is out now and promises many glorious things, but I haven't had a chance to toy with it yet.
If you want to integrate your motion graphics into a shot where the camera is moving and the 2d trackers that come with AE (point tracker and Mocha) aren't cutting it, you should get a some camera tracking software. SynthEyes is meant to be quite good and is fighting with Boujou to be industry standard.
However, they are both standalone programs that are meant to be used with 3d software (although you can use them with AE). The Foundry clearly saw a gap in the market and recently released Camera Tracker a plugin that runs from within AE. It appears to be quite nice! (I haven't used it yet.)
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All of these suggestions are going to be AE specific, sorry for my narrow skill set ;)
I use the Trapcode Suite a lot.
I am also totally thrilled to have a fast in application 3D camera tracker available from The Foundry.
I've used a bunch of RE:Vision FX's plug-ins over the years, but they're usually for more specific problems. I like RE:Map, Reel Smart Motion Blur and Twixtor specifically.