Review: Rampant Design Tools Style Effects
Wildly Flexible QuickTime Files Are Drag-and-Drop Simple, with No Rendering and Infinite Options Right on the Timeline
Most editors, VFX and motion graphics artists will admit that they love plug-ins. With what seems like an endless variety of modern plug-ins that do everything from color-correction and keying to transitions and film effects, there is a product available to help you achieve just about any effect you can dream of. I am no different. My name is Nino and I am a plug-in junkie. While its true that plug-ins cant make you a better editor, it doesn’t hurt to have the correct tools to get the job done. However, beyond the rendering times, the impact on your NLE’s loading time, and the small fortune you can spend on the vast amount of plug-ins available, I always feels there is something “organic” missing in my digital arsenal.
Enter Rampant Design Tools and its line of Style Effects. Style Effects are ultra high definition visual effects and designs, personally created by the industry veterans behind Rampant Design: award-winning VFX artist Sean Mullen and post-production expert Stefanie Mullen. Style Effects come in literally thousands of different effects and are packaged as Quicktime files, enabling artists to simply drag and drop them to any editing platform.
Rampant Design Style Effects are not plug-ins and therefore they are not platform dependent. They work on all editing software platforms. The ProRes files can be imported into your NLE and dragged onto the timeline, where you can layer and blend them over your footage, instantly creating stunning ultra-high-definition looks. While this is not an entirely new idea—I have used drag-and-drop effects and overlays in the past—what blew my mind was the quality and diversity of the Rampant library of over 10,000 design elements. Smoke, fire, flares, light leaks, animated mattes, distortion elements, and pretty much anything else you can think of at 2K, 4K and 5K resolutions. This is what makes Rampant Design Style Effects a different animal. These guys are no joke, and this is the line of products I’ve been dreaming about.
Rampant Design Style Effects are much more than the “light leak” products you might have seen in the past. Shot in 5K on a Red Epic at Rampant’s Orlando, FL studio, all of the effects are created in camera. The library consists of several categories. Optical film and light effects include Beauty Light, Designer Film Flashes, Studio Film Effects, ShadowLight and Studio Bokeh. Transitions include FilmLight Transitions, Studio Light Transitions, Studio Light Blast Transitions and Studio Flash Transitions. Distortion and Glitch Effects include Film Grunge, Designer Film Clutter, GrungeLight, Reel Clutter and the Distortion Toolkit. Visual Effects include Studio Ink, Studio Paint, Monster Toolkit, Studio Flares, Studio Fire, Studio Smoke, Studio Dust and Studio Snow. They even have a music library named Rampant Music for Editors. Each product line includes hundreds of massive 2K, 4K and 5K resolution files available for download, or you can opt for USB 3.0 drives. What’s more, 200 of Rampant’s 4K style effects are free at 4kfree.com.
For this review, I was sent Rampant Essentials Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 on Rampant Essentials USB 3.0 drives. The 3 TB drives have the Rampant logo screened on them and they look and feel awesome. Each volume includes more than 3,000 4K Style Effects from all of the categories I mentioned above and is a great value at $1999. (HD versions are $999, while full 5K versions cost $2999; Thunderbolt drives are available at a hefty surcharge.) If you would rather download the products you can, but in my opinion, the drive is the way to go. Individual Style Effects lines can be downloaded starting at $79, depending on resolution. They also offer HD-resolution effects that they call “Budget VFX” for $29.00.
How to Use Them
You simply import a clip from one of the libraries and layer it above your video on the Timeline. Edit and adjust the transparency and/or Blending Mode to achieve to the desired effect or transition. That’s it. Many of the clips already have alpha-channel information so there’s little else to do but just position over your edit and you’re good to go.
You can change the look using Blending Modes. For example, if you place an organic light effect like BeautyLight on a secondary video track above the main video timeline and switch the blend mode to Screen or Color Dodge, the effect will be beautifully composited over the footage being worked on. That allows you to be creative without being limited by a plug-in’s built-in parameters or being forced to wait for a render to see the results. You can make it as simple or complex as you want.
Some of my favorites are the optical film and light effects. Film dirt and scratches, film flashes, and light leaks can all add organic style and beauty to my footage. Editing at 1080p in Adobe Premiere Pro CC on a HP workstation, I found that the massive 5K files allow you to be even more creative in HD. You could always scale the effect down by 50% when working in HD, but leaving it at its full size allows you to move the 4K file around the HD framing, giving you more flexibility, for example, to place a film scratch in the exact position that works best for your footage.
I also really like the transitions, such as FilmLight and Studio Light Transitions. Those two collections include shots of fast-moving lights that whip past the lens, making a really nice organic transition. With the huge variety of clips that include a built-in alpha channel, it’s easy to find a compelling transition for your project without the wait. Just drop the clip into your edit, move it to your edit point, and you’re done. And it’s fun to be able to try out so many different looks so quickly.
Each collection comes with a preview sheet showing the first frame of each shot to help you get an idea of what each effect looks like—something I found very helpful with a collection of this size. Additionally, the Rampant Design Tools website features a ton of video tutorials, a blog and a community section designed to help users learn how to best use these tools and expand their creativity.
Plays Nice with Plug-Ins
Once again, the Rampant Design Tools are not plug-ins, and they are not meant to replace plug-ins. However, they can be used to enhance your favorite plug-ins. Besides the obvious ways of using, say, a color-correction tool with optical film and light Style Effects to nail the look you are after, they can be used in other ways. For example, you could use a clip from Rampant’s visual effects collection, like Studio Fire, with Trapcode Particular. Using a real-world flame or ember element from Rampant as your emitter may result in a more realistic particle simulation. The tutorials on Rampant’s website have a lot of great lessons along these lines.
Rampant Design Tools are solid ideas, incredibly well executed. Each collection includes hundreds of different effects that make applying VFX and transitions to your projects a fast, highly enjoyable process. The value is excellent and the company is often running special deals. I am a fan. I will continue to use these tools and explore new creative ways to employ them on different projects. Skeptical? You should be. But h Head over to 4kfree.com and grab 200 4K style effects for free—no watermarks, no gimmicks— and see for yourself what these visually compelling drag-and-drop visual effects can do for your work.