These Wacom Tablets Will Come with 3 Months of Boris FX and Sculptron. Here’s What That Means:

By CS Jones, Philadelphia-based writer and illustrator

Wacom tablets come with free trials of quite a few programs already, from paint programs to educational ones—and now we’re adding two more that’ll be of special interest to anyone who works with video: Starting March 1st, The Cintiq Pro, Intuos Pro, and MobileStudio Pro will come with three free months of BorisFX Suite and, soon, OTOY’s Sculptron. These programs are very different, but both have the same goal: Making formerly difficult and expensive processes more accessible for home users.

BorisFX Suite

Pardon the cliche, but even if you’ve never heard of Boris FX, you’ve certainly seen their work. For twenty-five years, they’ve been the industry’s foremost providers of video post-production effects.

“We’re the original plugin developer, making plugins for Avid, for Adobe, for Apple, for Resolve,” says chief marketing officer Ross Shane. “Things like titling, glows, lens flares, transitions…” all effects that are omnipresent in modern media, and whenever you see one, there’s a good chance it was made with a Boris product. For example, four of the five programs that make up Suite were used in every movie nominated for the 2020 Best Visual Effects Oscar—in addition to countless ads, TV shows, and music videos. Take a look at their “demo reel:”

If you don’t have any of the aforementioned video editors, in addition to plugins, all of these have been turned into standalone apps too. And now they make Optics, an image editing program that lets you apply all the same effects to your still photos. All of these come with Suite:

The programs

SapphireAnd although it has a wide range of uses and filters, Sapphire specializes in light—specifically the kind of dramatic effects that turn heads, like neon, lightning, sun rays, and lens flares. (Which, Shane notes, are used extensively by J.J. Abrams.) With the node editor, you can create your own effects by combining others. Also, the backend’s been retooled for huge speed increases.

ContinuumBoris calls the 2021 version of this program “The Swiss army knife of plugins” and “The biggest release in our history.” It’s a companion piece to Sapphire that fills in a lot of the use case gaps, but is designed to do a lot more heavy lifting. In addition to having an extensive lighting and colour grading toolkit like Sapphire, it goes more into depth with the “fundamentals” of your film: It’s the only one of the three to feature chromakey compositing, 3d text, and particle effects.

Mocha Pro is described as “the world’s most recognized and powerful planar tracking tool for VFX and post-production.” In plain language, it’s used to replace elements in scenes, such as adding graphics to clothing and other moving surfaces, altering faces, and smart mesh transformation. An incredibly powerful CG program that can be used as a virtual green screen and mocap suit all in one. Comes with a Python script editor, if you’re really into customizing.

Silhouette specializes in rotoscoping, aiming to simplify the infamously time-consuming process into something the average user can do without tearing their hair out. It’s based on a pen-tool system to define the subject’s moving parts, then automates a lot of the work of tracking them for you. It also incorporates a lot of other effects for moving subjects, like blemish removal, and integrates with Mocha to create a powerful compositing system.

Optics is the newest addition to the Boris lineup, doing for still photos what the other plugins do for video. It’s a collection of 160 functions in one Photoshop plugin, but it’s also available as a standalone application. You could see it as a turbocharged version of the filter gallery, allowing you to do in one click what often takes many combined functions to do in PS. It can be used to completely relight your photos, colour grade them, change the weather, in addition to the normal selection of blurs, sharpens, and more commonplace effects. And they’re all non-destructive, even after you’ve saved and closed the image.

The combined suite normally costs $175 a month, bringing the total value to $575. If you get the maximum use out of it, that’s a decent chunk of the cost of your Wacom device—in fact, more than the cost of an Intuos Pro Medium, and only $25 short of a large. If you’re a videographer who’s interested in taking your VFX work to the next level, you’ll have a full ninety to try it out this career-changing effects suite before taking the plunge. (Or to finish your indie film very quickly.)

And many of these effects are much easier to apply with a tablet than without. VFX editing is a lot like photo manipulation, and the same way a tablet makes using brushes and the pen tool in Photoshop infinitely easier, it simplifies a lot of features across these programs that would just be a pain with a mouse. Take selecting moving parts and brushing in blemish correction areas for Silhouette, painting in light effects in Sapphire, and masking in Mocha.

Sculptron

If you haven’t heard of Sculptron either, maybe you soon will. It’s an ambitious hybrid 3d sculpting and animation tool from OTOY, the creators of Octane Render (the unbiased render engine used for, among many other things, the stunning intro to American Gods).

Sculptron is one of the first programs to let you animate your sculpt immediately: You can even continue to work while the animation is cycling. First impressions say it’s incredibly user-friendly. A unique feature is its mesh to volume conversion, allowing you to sculpt clouds and other particle effects. It can then be paired with Octane Render to render them as photo realistic 3d objects into your scene, making it magical for animating visual effects. Another is the ability to smoothly interpolate the frames between motions, making it great for 3d-to-2d animation—so, good thing it also comes with a toon shader. Watch it in action:

Another feature is that like all OTOY’s programs, it’s GPU-based. For anyone who’s not familiar, this means that it runs off the graphics card, which is roughly a million times faster than forcing your CPU to multitask. Overall, “working with this is just an easy breeze,” says Youtuber askNK.

They released their second alpha in early 2020, and now the full version may also be out as soon as March. They haven’t dropped the details on what it will cost yet, but as soon as it comes out, Wacom buyers will also receive three free months of it.

Tablets are a requirement for 3d sculpting programs, which make extensive use of pen pressure and the nuance of motion in ways that are impossible with a mouse, and the direct feedback of a drawing monitor makes it an excellent choice for this one. In addition, as seen here, the MobileStudio’s touch function is great for letting you rotate your models by hand as you work.

When you’re ready to learn more about which one’s right for you, check out the MobileStudio Pro here, the Cintiq Pro line here, and the Intuos Pro line here. If you have any questions reach out to us at wacomstore@annexpro.com.

About the Author

CS Jones is a Greater-Philadelphia-based writer and illustrator. You can see all of his work, including most of his contributions to this blog, at thecsjones.com, or follow him at @thecsjones on Instagram or Twitter.

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