Red Giant Software's Trapcode Suite 10 in Review (Part One)

July 24, 2011 3:36 pm

Tags: Adobe, After Effects, Plug-ins, Red Giant Software, Trapcode

file_468393.jpgProduct Review: Red Giant Software's Trapcode Suite 10 (Part One)

If you've read some of my more recent articles, you'd notice how much I enjoy Adobe's After Effects. Shipping with hundreds of great effects and prests of its own, there are some fantastic additional effects you can add to After Effects with 3rd party plug-ins. This is where the folks at Red Giant Software come in as one of the top plug-in providers for After Effects, Premiere Pro, Motion, and Final Cut Pro. Seriously, with a good look at their freshly redesigned website, these folks do a stellar job of providing outstanding products, as well as offering tons of support, tutorials (check out Red Giant TV), and wonderful freebies (check out Red Giant People).

The Trapcode Suite 10, created by Peder Norrby and distributed by Red Giant Software, is an outstanding collection of effects plug-ins that range from the simple, but effective, original Trapcode Shine, to the wildly popular, and complex, Trapcode Particular. With everything in the Suite capable of so much, one review article just wouldn't suffice. So, be it through a two-part review, I'll do my best to introduce the complete Trapcode Suite 10. In this part, I'll move through Trapcode Shine, Trapcode Echospace, Trapcode Starglow, Trapcode 3D Stroke, and Trapcode Lux.

First, a quick list of all 9 plug-ins included in the Trapcode Suite 10:

So, back in 2001, Peder Norrby created the first of his Trapcode plug-ins that took the motion design world by storm. This first one was Trapcode Shine. Quick to apply and render, this effect can create a sweeping, shimmering lighting effect, most recognized with text application in film and TV, and perhaps a bit overused in this way, but it is still ultimately cool fun to play with. Of course, a bit more exploration finds this plug-in does wonders outside of text application, even for subtle effects, and really is a great tool to have.

Trapcode Shine and controls in Effects panel

Some of the Trapcode plug-ins offer quite a few included animation presets, in addition to the extensive amount of control available to explore. While Trapcode Shine doesn't have any included animation presets, there are presets included for the color option. However, each Trapcode plug-in provides the ability to save presets, which is especially great once exploring has started and it is forgotten just how a certain effect was achieved.

Saving settings as a preset in Trapcode Shine

Next, the Trapcode Echospace plug-in is really interesting in what it does. The fact is though, I didn't realize at first just how useful this plug-in really is. Basically, you can instantly create multiple instances of footage, text, etc., and have complete control of these, individually, or grouped. Instances are individual 3D layers capable of casting shadows as well. Echospace effectively allows you to create complex animation, while keeping a well-organized comp, where you can easily locate and make quick adjustments. Two command buttons work instantly: 'Repeat' (for creating instances) and 'Clean' (for quickly removing instances).

Trapcode Echospace and controls in Effects panel

Now, Trapcode 3D Stroke was actually the second plug-in that Peder Norrby created. Capable of creating fluid lines, to smooth handwriting animation, this is another must-have plug-in. Complete control is provided for everything from tapering, to repeating. There is also a built-in camera that can be fully controlled as well.

Trapcode 3D Stroke using text
Example of Trapcode 3D Stroke with Trapcode Starglow
(Click here for video sample)

Trapcode Starglow, which pretty much gives itself away in its name, and with its strength in design makes it a must-have plug-in. From subtle to dazzling, there are so many ways to make use of Starglow. In the video example of 3D Stroke in action (above), I also added Trapcode Starglow with a Tri Prism preset and animated the shimmer. There are many cool presets included for Trapcode Starglow and all sorts of streak and coloring options.

Trapcode Starglow controls with included presets

Next, let's have a look at Trapcode Lux. What this plug-in does is turn After Effects lights into volumetric lights. Add Lux to both point lights and spotlights in your scene for great effect. You can even apply Lux to only certain named lights in your scene, which is also great. With Lux, complex scene lighting is made extremely easy and infinitely controllable, which also makes this another must-have.

Point and Spot lighting example using Trapcode Lux

I really love playing with Trapcode Lux. The possibilities are, indeed, endless.

Trapcode Lux and controls in Effects panel

I'm going to wrap up the first part of the Trapcode Suite review here. In the next part, I will introduce Trapcode Form, Trapcode Horizon, Trapcode Particular, and Trapcode SoundKeys.


Honestly, with how much use many of the Trapcode Suite's plug-ins will get, pricing is amazingly low. With the current price of $899 (USD) new and $99-$499 (USD) for an upgrade, the full Trapcode Suite 10 is very cost effective when you consider you save over $500 over purchasing the plug-ins separately. However, the individual plug-in pricing is nothing to scoff at either.


Red Giant Software is committed to providing the best support for its customers, through video tutorials and quick tips at Red Giant TV, and a wonderful community sharing presets at Red Giant People. Also, there is a vast amount of help on the software support page.

Using one of the wonderful free presets from Red Giant People (for Trapcode 3d Stroke and Trapcode Shine)

Be sure to also check out:

Note: Be sure to check out what can be achieved with Red Giant's Magic Bullet Suite 11 in the excellent short film“Plot Device,” directed by Seth Worley, and executive produced by Red Giant’s own Aharon Rabinowitz. Aharon and Seth co-wrote the film, working together in close collaboration throughout the project. Plot Device was created to demonstrate first hand the high caliber work that can be created when using Magic Bullet Suite 11, even on a limited budget.

Nick C. Sorbin is a digital artist, sculptor, writer, and Managing Editor for Renderosity's Front Page News.
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