Gear

CoreMelt ImageFlow FX V2.2

AFTER EFFECTS PLUG-IN GENERATES SLIDE SHOWS FROM STILLS

CoreMelt ImageFlowThe best tools are the least sexy, and CoreMelt ImageFlow FX is a perfect example. It’s not the sort of tool that will wow you when you see it demonstrated at a conference or user-group meeting, but it’s the tool that may save you hours of toil. That’s better than sexy; that’s money in the bank.

Put simply, ImageFlow FX is a Mac-only plug-in for After Effects, Motion, and Final Cut Pro that generates slide shows from still images. You apply it to a solid and then, in the Effect Controls panel, point it to a folder that contains images. ImageFlow FX displays each image, one by one, with cool transitions between images. If you’ve ever tried to do this by hand, you know how boring and time-consuming it can be.

ImageFlow FX will display the images or videos in the folder in filename order or in a random order. That’s probably good enough for most purposes, though I wish it would let me order the images any way I want. To get around this, I name my images image01.png, image02.png, image03.png, etc. in the order I want them to appear (ImageFlow FX works with most standard image and video types, not just PNGs).

New to version 2 is the ability to pull images from “image wells,” which are layers in your Composition. You can pull images from up to eight wells.

ImageFlow FX isn’t a single effect—it’s a suite of 25 effects, each one containing a different transition. Some of the transitions are simple, such as fade-ins and drop-downs; others are more complex, such as 3D zooms, carousels, and image walls. Each effect has a default behavior that you can easily customize, changing timings and x, y, and z positions.

The effects allow you to add custom masks and frames to images. ImageFlow ships with many standard frames, but you can add your own. You can choose to display each image just once, or you can loop the images so that after the last one displays, the slide show begins again with the first image. The effects also support blend modes, so as various transitions cause images to overlap, they can interact with each other in interesting ways. If your images aren’t all the same size, you can tell ImageFlow FX to leave them as is or scale them to fit so they’re all the same. I’ve gotten best results when my images are all the same size, so if I have images of different dimensions, I usually animate them in groups, giving each group its own instance of an ImageFlow FX effect.

I’ve also been experimenting with using ImageFlow FX to create quick, funky backgrounds. I fill several folders full of random images and then layer random, looping slide shows on top of each other, mixing them together with blend modes.

As is my usual custom, I initially tried out ImageFlow FX by downloading the free, 15-day trial version. I was pleased to discover that CoreMelt let me keep four of the 25 effects permanently, with no obligation to buy the full product. The four free effects are Carousel, Continuous Random Pan, Multi Pop Forward, and Filmstrip. But it was a no-brainer choosing to buy the suite. I knew my $129 would repay itself almost immediately, giving me more time to focus on really creative work rather than sequencing dozens of still images on a timeline.—Marcus Geduld

Company: CoreMelt Pty Ltd
Price: $129
Web: www.coremelt.com
Rating: 4

Hot: Huge time saver; bargain: 25 effects for $129
Not: Mac only; lack of built-in image ordering

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