Slick Volumes 9 & 10, by Gee Three
Posted: 15-Jul-2006

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Gee Three Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Marcus Haptonstall Class: MULTIMEDIA

Overview
Bored with the 16 transitions and 23 effects that come with iMovie HD 5 ? Looking for a way to give your iMovie creations that professional look without the cost investment? The creative geniuses at Gee Three have done it again... and again, with their latest release of the Slick series of iMovie plug-ins. Volumes 9 & 10 add 118 transitions and 18 effects. Add in the Fusion Factory Plus pack and the number of transitions increases by 750 along with the "slick" new effects that can be created using the Fusion Factory engine. Gee Three claims that many of the plug-ins are not only a first for iMovie, but also not available on any other video editing platform. While I cannot completely validate their claim, I can say that it is certainly true when compared to Apple's Final Cut Express HD v3.0. Gee Three offers their complete Slick series offerings (Volumes 1-10) in a money saving bundle or you can select a number of "tailored" bundled volumes, depending on what your needs are. Unless you're a semi- or professional video creator, one would have to seriously question the need for a high-end tool such as one of the Apple Final Cut packages given the tremendous power the Slick series brings to iMovie. Once you've tried these volumes and started the flow of creative juices you didn't realize you had, you'll find yourself going back to www.GeeThree.com in an attempt to satisfy your craving for more of these plug-ins!

Requirements (minimum)

  • iMovie HD 6, iMovie HD 5, iMovie 4, iMovie 3
  • Mac OSX 10.2.x or later (including Tiger 10.4)
  • Macintosh with PowerPC G4 or G5 processor

This review was conducted on a 17" iMac with a 1.25 GHz PPC G4 with 768 MB RAM, running OS X V10.3.9 and iMovie HD 5.

Setup
Slick Volumes 9 & 10 was a very simple installation. Double-clicking on the installer opens a window where your only choice is to click the "Continue" button. Next comes the typical software license agreement that most people agree to if they want to proceed with the installation. Being the agreeable person that I am, I clicked the "Agree" button, then the registration window appears. The serial number provided by Gee Three must be typed in regardless of whether you purchased the downloadable product with electronic serial number or the CD with the printed serial number. It would have been handy to be able to paste it in, but pasting is not accepted. Once you enter the serial number and proceed, there's 3122 items that the installer loads. My install took about 7.5 minutes. No need to tell the installer where you want things installed, as the location is fixed. The plug-ins are installed in the iMovie plug-in space and automatically show up in iMovie. They are even segregated by their respective volumes within the Titles, Trans and Effects sections.


Gee Three plug-ins organized under iMovie Effects

As for the documentation, simply drag and drop the documentation folder from the disk image to your hard drive. You won't need a ream of paper to print out the two pdf files. Vol 9 is 13 pages and Vol 10 is 16 pages, not counting the cover pages.

In Use

The power of iMovie is hidden in the use of plug-ins to provide special effects and transitions for movie clips and photos and clever use of text in creating titles or other annotation on the clips and photos. iMovie can be easily enhanced by the simple addition of plug-ins. There are other sources of iMovie plug-ins, but those offered by Gee Three in the Slick volumes contain the most extensive and exhaustive collections available. The Slick plug-ins are seamlessly integrated into iMovie and are accessed just like the stock iMovie plug-ins. In fact, the only way you know you're using a Slick plug-in is by the way they are grouped, by their respective Slick volume number, in a hierarchal manner.

To get a preview of these two volumes, visit Gee Three's web site at
http://www.GeeThree.com/slick/V_09.html and http://www.GeeThree.com/slick/V_10.html

There are so many transitions and effects in this latest offering, it would not be practical to cover every one of them, so I focused this review on the ones that I felt were the "slick"est.

Transitions
Slick Transitions - Vols. 9 & 10
The multitude of transitions will provide plenty of variation to a large iMovie project without ever having to duplicate a transition. The new transitions range from elegant to fun. The listings below (Transitions - Vol 9 and Transitions Vol 10) show the vast amount of new transitions added to iMovie. The numbers in () are the number of variations within the transition. Following the lists are descriptions of my favorite transitions.

Transitions - Vol 9
  • FusionFactory
  • Object Wipes
    • -Balls (10)
    • -Left Wipes (20)
    • -Misc Objects (9)
    • -More (4)
  • Arch-Blend
  • Arch-In
  • Arch-Out
  • BackSplit
  • BiSplit
  • BiSplit-Tumble
  • Blend-Duo
  • Blend-Quartet
  • Blend-Spin
  • Blend-Zoom
  • Block In
  • Block In-Center
  • Block In-Checker
  • Block In-Random
  • Block Out
  • Block Out-Center
  • Block Out-Checker
  • Block Out-Random
  • Cube-Circuit
  • Cube-Dance
  • Cube-Tumble In
  • Cube-Zoom
  • Flying Tiles-KnockOut
  • Flying Tiles-Landing
  • Flying Tiles-Sweep
  • Grid Circuit-3
  • Grid Circuit-5
  • Grid Fly Out
  • Pivot-Duet
  • Pivot-Grid
  • Pivot-Trio
  • Pivot-Weave
  • Quad-Box Out
  • Quad-Gate
  • Quad-Swing
  • Revolution
  • Sequence
  • Sequence-In
  • Sequence-Out
  • Slab-In
  • Slab-Infinity
  • Slab-Out
  • Slab-Tumble
  • Slat-4
  • Slat-4 Zoom
  • Slat-7
  • Slat-7 Zoom
  • Spin In
  • Swing-Blend
  • Swing-In
  • Swing-Out
  • Switch-Flip
  • Switch-Pivot
  • Switch-Slant
  • Switch-Slide
  • Switch-Tumble
  • Tilt-In
  • Tilt-Out
  • Turnstile
  • Turnstile-Slow
  • Turnstile-Tumble
  • Turnstile-Zoom
  • Twist
  • Twist-Mix
  • Twist-Shuffle
  • Twist-Split
  • Twist-Tight
  • Twist-Zoom
  • UpLift
  • UpLift-Wave
  • Zag-In
  • Zag-Out
  • Zip-In
  • Zip-Out

Transitions Vol 10
  • Abstract 01
  • Abstract 02
  • Abstract 03
  • Abstract 04
  • Abstract 05
  • Abstract 06
  • Abstract 07
  • Abstract 08
  • Abstract 09
  • Abstract 10
  • Abstract 11
  • Arrowhead
  • Bell
  • Bounce Heart 1
  • Bounce Heart 2
  • Car 1
  • Car 2
  • Command
  • Crescent
  • Dots
  • Drift Body
  • Drift Dots
  • Drift Ghosts
  • Drift Hearts
  • Drift Jack
  • Drift Lips
  • Drift Pent
  • Drift Rings
  • Drift Skulls
  • Drift Stars
  • Drops
  • Flying Arrows
  • Glide Batter
  • Glide Bomb
  • Glide Dove
  • Glide Ghost
  • Glide Heart
  • Glide Lips
  • Glide Lizard
  • Glide Petal
  • Glide Skulls
  • Glide Soccer
  • Glide Spots
  • Glide Witch
  • Glide Yin-Yang
  • Hand
  • Knife
  • Scissors H
  • Scissors V
  • Shoes
  • Spring
  • Stars
  • Sticks 1
  • Sticks 2
  • Sticks 3
  • Sticks 4
  • Sticks 5
  • Sticks 6
  • Sticks 7
  • Sticks 8
  • Sunrise
  • Teapot
  • Train 1
  • Train 2
Object Wipes - Vol. 9
The Object Wipes transitions provide one or more graphic objects serving as an intermediary between clips/photos. There are a variety of objects ranging from sports, travel, hobbies and floating text. They begin as small objects floating across the screen and soon completely fill the screen then begin to shrink and float away revealing the next clip/photo. A clever idea.

Fusion Factory - Vol. 9
The introduction of Fusion Factory opens up a whole new way to create custom transitions using dissolves, blends and mixes. The heart behind Fusion Factory are small, but powerful graphic objects Gee Three calls "Fusion Atoms". These "atoms" can also be applied to text and unique effects. The basic offering includes over 150 "atoms", but with the addition of the Fusion Factory Plus Pack, which this bundle came with, Gee Three bumps the total to 750 "atoms".
Fusion Factory Atoms
  • Bands (52)
  • EdgeIns (32)
  • Irises (45)
  • Kaleidas (20)
  • OffBeats (25)
  • Organic Bursts (22)
  • Organic Climatics (17)
  • Organic Erosions (34)
  • Organic Fluids (49)
  • Organic Irises (51)
  • Organic Plasmas (17)
  • Organic Ruptures (23)
  • Organic Strokes (23)
  • Organic Textures (42)
  • Organic Vapors (24)
  • Organic Washes (21)
  • Organic Wipes (33)
  • Patterns (32)
  • Penetrators (24)
  • Pure Quads (10)
  • Pure Splits (22)
  • Pure Thirds (20)
  • Radial (18)
  • Radiant (24)
  • Retro (11)
  • Spirals (10)
  • Videogami (12)
  • Wipes (28)

When you consider that you can manipulate each "atom" to change the direction the effect is applied (horiz, vert, or both), reverse it’s direction and linearly adjust the edge softness, your transition effect choices are almost unlimited! The Fusion Factory certainly certainly makes Vol. 9 live up to it’s moniker…"slick"!


Slick Vol 9 - Fusion Factory

Effects
Like the Transition plug-ins, the Effects plug-ins provide the user new creative ways to enhance your movie clips giving them that professional look. All of the effects have their own "configure" window, unlike the stock effect that come with iMovie. In the configure window, the user is provided a larger preview screen than the iMovie preview screen and a multitude of adjustment controls for the effect. Figures 12 and 13 list the new effects added to iMovie.

Effects Vol 9

Effects Vol 10

  • Fusion Filter
  • Fusion Overlay
  • Hue Changer
  • PDF Scroll
  • PDF Slide Show
  • Saturation Changer
  • Travel Log
  • Video Objects
  • Color Tuner
  • Variations
  • Lighting Studio
  • Motion Wall Plus
  • Multi-Camera
  • Multi-Track
  • Multi-View
  • Picture-in-Picture Plus
  • Scale & Crop
  • Skew & Distort
  • Straighten
  • Test Patterns
Hue Changer - Vol. 9
Saturation Changer - Vol. 9
Ever wish you could change a single color while leaving the others untouched or create that effect of everything in the image being gray and only a having a single color stand out? Well, now you can, with the Hue Changer and Saturation Changer effects. Individual sliders control the RGBCMY hue values and their saturation. The changes you make are displayed in "real-time" so you can see the results before they are applied. The only improvement I would like to see is having individual "Reset" buttons for each hue and a "Reset Sliders" button like the Color Tuner and Variations effects have.

PDF Scroll - Vol. 9
PDF Slide Show - Vol. 9
You know how difficult it is to create opening or ending credits that turn out like those on the big screen in iMovie? Apparently the Gee Three team wanted something better too, so they created the PDF Scroll and PDF Slide Show effects. Now, any document you create with a mix of fonts, sizes, colors, graphic objects…whatever, just save it as a PDF file and you can adjust it's horizontal position and have it scroll over a clip/photo with variable levels of transparency and background colors. Scaling the PDF file to the size you want is done proportionally so it doesn't appear distorted. It can also be time-scaled to fit a iMovie clip or a set for a fixed rate. You can also use PDF files as a slide show overlayed on top of a clip/photo, all with the same controls as the scroll effect except the physical sizing to fit the clip…that's done automatically. The one thing to watch for in the PDF Slide Show effect is the PDF file pages are displayed in whatever orientation the are created in, so if you want a page displayed in landscape mode (for example), make sure you set it that way before you create the PDF file because you can't rotate individual pages/slides using the effect.


Slick Vol 9 - PDF Scroll

Video Objects - Vol. 9
Picture-in-Picture Plus - Vol. 10
There are two effects that are very similar between the two volumes: Video Objects & Picture-in-Picture Plus. The Video Objects provide various graphic images serving as borders such as picture frames, televisions, film strips, movie screens, computer monitors, etc, to dsiplay a clip/photo that can be scaled and positioned anywhere within another clip or photo. The Picture-in-Picture Plus simply provides a scalable, borderless window that can be positioned anywhere on the photo or clip.
This version of Picture-in-Picture Plus effect is a very scaled back version of the PiP Pro effect found in Vol 8

Fusion Overlay - Vol. 9
Another way to create a picture-in-picture effect is with this neat tool. Fusion Overlay allows you to animate your clip overly the same way as a transition using the power of the Fusion Engine and it's "atoms". Sizing and positioning the overly is achieved with simple dragging. You can adjust how fast and how much of the effect is applied by simply adding and moving point on a linear graph. I'd recommend using Fusion Overlay over the Picture-in-Picture Plus effect in Vol. 10.

Color Tuner - Vol. 10
Straighten - Vol. 10
The Color Tuner effect gives you the same function of fine-tuning the colors as you have in iPhoto when in Edit/Adjust mode. Interestingly enough, they left out the "straighten" adjustment and made it it's own effect (that's one way to increase the "effect" feature count!), but they did include a "Reset Sliders" button! While were on the subject, the Straighten effect is also basically the same as the iPhoto function, except that while iPhoto can only straighten +/-10°, this effect can straighten +/-20° and rotate 180°!

Fusion Filter - Vol. 9
Putting the power of the Fusion Engine to work in adjusting and animating the colors in a clip can create some pretty cool…ah, "slick", effects. Blur, brightness/contrast, hue, saturation, lightness and tint (grays, sepia, or "mix your own") can all be animated using Fusion "atoms". Once again the rate and level of the appied effect is controlled by a linear graph, or "rate curve" as the folks at Gee Three call it. Hmmm, Color Tuner or Fusion Filter?? My vote goes to Fusion Filter.

Variations - Vol. 10
For those folks who aren't really into the art of tweaking colors using the Color Tuner adjustments, the Variations effect makes it easy! It offers a selection of pre-adjusted clips/photos that adjust the RGBCMY hues and brightness. Just click on one and your clip/photo is immediately adjusted. Keep clicking on the same pre-adjusted clip and the hues continue to adjust. Don't like it, either use the "Reset" button or click on your original clip and you're back to square-one!

A minor glitch discovered while configuring the Color Tuner effect is that when switching between applications using Exposé then coming back to iMovie using Exposé with the Color Tuner configuration palette open, the palette does become the front window but not the active window, nor does iMovie return directly behind the palette. Only after clicking on the palette's title bar does it become the active window. The iMovie project window does not return to the front until the Color Tuner configuration palette is closed. This glitch is common with all Vol 10 effects except the Variations effect. This is not an Exposé nor iMovie glitch, nor do any of the Vol 9 effects exhibit this behavior.

Scale & Crop - Vol. 10
Ever wanted to only focus on a particular section of a video clip while still showing the entire clip? The Scale & Crop effect allows you to literally scale, crop and reposition video clips just like you would a photo while still retaining the entire video.

Lighting Studio - Vol. 10
If you want to create interesting effects using special lighting, try the Lighting Studio effect. You can try 13 different lighting presets like floods, spots, RGB floods, dusk, dawn, etc. With each of the presets you can position the light source and target, beam focus, intensity, color and edge softness. When repositioning the light source manually by dragging it around on the clip/photo, make sure you don't drag it completely off the clip/photo, which you can (and the light intensity continues to dim as if you were actually moving the source farther away from the subject), because if you let go of it, you can't grab it again because the graphic object cannot be seen to grab. The only way to recover from this is to click on the lighting preset thumbnail that you're using and start all over. Not even the "Cancel" button will reset the light source back onto the clip/photo. For those who really know the technical aspects of lighting design, the "expert" panel allows you to make the changes numerically. You can even save your customized lighting effect to be loaded for use on a future clip/photo. This is handy effect for drawing attention to a specific area of a clip/photo. Use of this effect on a clip would present challenges if your subject isn't always in the same position on the clip. Not a problem for photos.


Slick Vol 10 - Lighting Studio

When using the "expert" settings panel, you have to double-click on the value you want to change causing it to hi-lite. Once you change it, you can't just click the "OK" button, because the change doesn't take effect. You have to click on the row of setting values or the white space below to make the change take effect, then you can click "OK". The cooresponding slider does not respond to the new value unless you click on the row of setting values before "OK". This interaction needs debugging.

Motion Wall Plus - Vol. 10
I was expecting more from this effect but what I found disappointing was the automatic resizing of photo clips to fit the "reels". The resizing does not maintain the proper aspect ratio and will multiply photos to fit within the "reels". Cropping of the photos to better match the aspect ratio of the "reels" minimizes the distortion. An upgrade to this effect should include the ability to crop. This is one effect that takes a long time to run the preview due to the number of effects being simultaneously applied to each photo.

Multi-Camera - Vol. 10
For those who shoot video from different angles with multiple camera, such as sporting events, weddings, and special productions (kid's school programs, etc), and then struggle to get them all time synchronized so the audio will sound "normal", will really appreciate this effect. You can also use photo clips in with video clips. This advantage this effect has over using normal transitions between clips is the synchronization function. The learning curve on how to use this effect was relatively short. The interface is well thought out. The transition from video clip to clip is immediate, no blends. Having the ability to add transitions between clips would be a nice touch.

Multi-Track - Vol. 10
This effect can be useful to create "floating" clips across the screen while a movie is playing in the background. This is another effect that could be made "slicker" with the inclusion of cropping function and the ability to control the path of the clip across the screen. The documentation (printed or built-in) for this effect does not completely explain the various settings, specifically one of the "R" field associated with clip rotation. Couldn't figure that one out.

Multi-View - Vol. 10
This "slick" effect is designed primarily for use with video clips (photo clips can also be used, but not quite as a effective) and is basically the Scale-and-Crop effect used in multiples on a single clip. It creates a nice effect when the various resized clones positioned on the screen fade in/out all synchronized. Very easy to learn to use. The standard "undo" function would be useful when working with the alignment tools, but maybe that's a future feature…hint-hint, Gee Three.


Slick Vol 10 - Multi-View

Skew & Distort - Vol. 10
Need to "fix" a clip/photo that you shot at an angle that appears somewhat distorted? Or would you rather make a great shot distorted for a interesting effect? Try the Skew & Distort effect. Just drag one of the four corners and stretch away. You can really get wild with the distortions.

Test Patterns - Vol. 10
Another fun effect is the Test Patterns. You can use this to create various B&W and color test patterns for display equipment calibration or to just have fun.

Titles
While most of the emphasis of Vols. 9 & 10 is placed on Transitions and Effects, Gee Three didn't forget about adding their magic touch to the Titles, albeit, in a somewhat limited fashion when compared to the number of effects and transitions. There are two Title effects in volume 9. When you consider the PDF Scroll and PDF Slide Show effects and the utilization of Fusion "atoms", the argument could be made that text manipulation (whether it be in the Titles or elsewhere) was not as ignored as it might seem at first.

Place Text II
This is an improvement in text handling for titles over the standard iMovie offering for you basic titles. (For more advanced or creative titles, use one of the PDF effects.) While this title effect provides greater creative freedom in creating the title, it does not allow you to change the text size while in the "configure" window. You can only do that from the basic iMovie panel. This is rather inconvienent having to go back and forth into the "configure" window to see if the text size you've selected gives you the look you want. The preview window is supposed to do that but it's small size doesn't provide an accurate picture like the "configure" window does.

Fusion Text - Vol. 9
Applying Fusion "atoms" to text is another strong feature in this volume. Like the virtually unlimited number of effects that can be created with these "atoms", that same power can be applied to text. The ability to adjust the line spacing and justification is a great help in making your text look and fit just how you want it without settling on the default settings for the particular font.

Interface
Overall, the user interface is very well thought out and easy to figure out, mostly without ever having to use the documentation. I was able to figure it out how to quickly be productive just by the intuitive nature of the user interface. If you get stuck and really need help, clicking on the "?" button that appears in the lower left-hand corner of many configuration palettes produces a on-line version of the documentation for that effect. The on-line help for some of the more complex effects include a step by step guide showing the user how to use the effect. There are some effects that could use more help like this, but I was very satisfied with the ease of learning the effects.

Summary
Gee Three's Slick Volumes 9 and 10 provide powerful plug-ins to greatly enhance the effects possible within iMovie. This is my first experience with the "Slick" family of plug-ins, and suffice it to say, I'm VERY impressed. While I've heard about the other volumes, I've never really seriously looked at them. Boy, have I missed out. These plug-ins include a wide variety of very interesting, useful and fun effects to experiment with, adding impressive magic to your iMovie projects. The effects each sport a Mac savvy interface that is well designed and easy to use. I highly recommend these latest offerings from Gee Three to anyone who enjoys creating their own movies and likes to add that "gee-whiz" appearance to their productions. The product name says it all... these definitely are "Slick"!

Pros

  • Impressive feature set
  • Fusion Factory
  • Clear organization within iMovie
  • Clean user interface
  • Great value


Cons

  • Minor cosmetic bugs
  • Could use "undo" support in a few places
  • Documentation is weak for some effects


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice