I see Nodes everywhere!

Trapcode Particular has long been a staple of motion graphics design in After Effects, but with more than 10 years on its back, its age is showing. It comes from a time when things were much more limited and even though it still can do amazing stuff, you wouldn’t do some things the same way today. It always felt crammed and there’s only so much you can squeeze in without only further pushing their – erm – “distinct look” that is usually a dead giveaway of which plug-in or preset has been used and what the limitations are. In that regard Particular has always been a victim of its own success.

It seems things are about to change as there’s a new kid in town thanks to Stardust and it seems pretty nifty. Ironically, many of the presets look exactly like – shall we say “inspired” by that other tool (and its brother Form as well as Plexus) and I wouldn’t be surprised if the people behind it, which so far choose to remain mostly anonymous turn out to be the same ones involved with those tools. The only real flaw is that it only comes for the “bad” After Effects versions with Creative Cloud. If only those weren’t so atrocious that I couldn’t be bothered to re-install one of them, perhaps I might consider trying this out…

Elsewhere Flowbox is finally available, though I can’t help but feel that the result is nothing like what it appeared to aim at some years ago. It seems that the realities of software development caught up with them and instead of an all out solution from the start we are going to get it in slices. In my imagination this looks like they scrambled to release the rotoscoping part instead of having nothing to show for another two years or so. At least from the available clips and screenshots there’s no trace of the scripting system and a few other things hinted at back then. I also get a very “ugly as Nuke” vibe which furthers this rushed feeling – there appears to have been no time for better UI design. Don’t get my usual nitpicking the wrong way – I’m willing to believe that it does its stuff well enough, but it just seems a bit sparse compared to what the marketing had you believe it would be…

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