Digieffects Damage v2 (64bit)
Platform: PC & Mac
Final Score: 8.5
Reprinted with permission from Microfilmmaker Magazine.
Digieffects has added some new features to their venerable Damage plug-in. New to the sped up 64 bit version is OverExpose and Destablize (For a description of the previous other four components of Damage, please see this review.
In totality, Damage2 does an exceedingly good job of providing exacting controls over analog and digital distortion, including very organic variations. However, with this release, I was disappointed to find that some of the workflow perks that have made Damage so welcome in the studio have been removed in the name of streamlining - namely, the ability to save presets from an in-plugin button and the randomizer that jump starts some creative workflow.
Ease of Use
Let me continue that thought. In the original Damage, one of the significant advantages was the ability to save presets as XML files and share them between PC/Mac, FCP/AE. This made for tremendous workflow consistency across multiple editors or platforms. No more. The tuning controls are significant enough in depth that hand writing notes of preferred settings is a bit arduous now.
Also removed are initial presets that were originally included with Damage v1. While I've never been one to use presets "as-is", having the multitude of controls realigned into new starting points has been a real time saver. You can still create the same effects, but at the expense of time in dialing a starting point to begin exploring variations from. I think the word I'm looking for is , "grrrrrrr." In Digieffects defense, the presets are available as downloads along with sample files from the Digieffects site. On the one hand, it's great to have the example files along with presets. On the other, why rip them out so users can separately install presets that used to ship with the plug-in and then compromise the convenience of the load preset from within the plug-in? I know, I know - I'm a whiner.
Ok, enough of that. The newest editions to the Damage stable come from another plug-in that Digieffects has purveyed - Simulate Camera; and they are welcome: OverExpose and Destabilize.
OverExpose has a nice set of input controls that allow users to randomly seed in blends of the effected footage and the original while giving precise control over nuances such as bloom, intensity, saturation and H/V proportions of the effects. Very nice. Yes, like you, I have several Bloom and Expose plugs up my sleeve but Damage v2 has a natural assortment of the types of nuanced effects you want to control.
Destabilize is likewise, a nice integration of RGB effects blended with zoom and positional changes of the footage. It's not just jitter or rotational movement. There is control over zooming, channels and more. This is very nice because it allows for easy creation of effects that become exactly what you want instead forcing users to settle for "good-enough".
Depth of Options
As has been my experience with other Digieffects software, the array and depth of the control is extensive. For example, in the newly added Overexpose option, you'd expect gamma controls and bloom intensity - and maybe even controls for blending the effect into the original footage, - all of which it has. However, Digieffects has created Pre, Active, and Post effect controls. There is Pre color correcting in the form of individual RGB gamma controls, extensive Bloom controls covering not only intensity and color but frequency, phase, chaos (individually for both H and V axis for all functions) and saturation. The Overexpose filter then wraps up with Post Color Correction with the RGB gamma controls again.
Similarly, Destabilize has essential motion controls for zoom, rotational, horizontal and vertical controls but also includes provisions for these to be augmented by breaking out channels including and then finessing those with frequency, amplitude and phase controls. Following setting all of those, you can further control the erratic behavior of the combined effects and blending.
The other Damage effects (see previous review) of Artifact, Blockade, Interference and Skew all share similar levels of options and control
The organization is logical and clearly identified, making a manual or documentation almost irrelevant.
You can't argue with 64 bit pipes. Individually, none of the Damage effects exact a significant toll on the render time, despite their high level of programmability. Of course when you begin stacking them and adding additional computationally "expensive" effects, users can expect to increase render times accordingly. (And, of course, for all folks who've moved up to the 64-bit exclusive CS5, 64-bit plugins are required.)
The rendered results are complex and organically diverse eliminating telltale signs of pattern recognition or anything that screams "fake!" The Damage v2 collections makes the best of "bad" things.
There are a bevy of adequate footage destroying plug-ins and effects available on the market. But they're merely adequate. If you really are wanting a high level of programmatic control and believable end results, Damage v2 provides very solid results.
In addition to using these effects to destroy plain footage, utilizing these capabilities for special effects such as holograms, matchmoved displays and more makes it's usage more likely, even for everyday situations. (Well, maybe not the hologram part)
The Digieffects Web site also has a good collection of example and project files the user can examine to aid in exploring possibilities and settings.
Ok, this is awkward. The Damage v2 collection is a great collection yielding fantastic results. The addition of two more footage compromising abilities should be vaulting the utility and worth of this plug-in forward. However, the elimination of the randomizer presets as a starting point or the ability to save presets from within the plug-in has compromised its formerly user-friendly nature. The strength of Damage is its extensive control set. But, that is also its Achilles heel when presets or saving options are removed - there's just a ton of stuff to control so it now takes longer to dial into desired effects. If the good folks at DigiEffects were to choose to release an update that restores these functionality options, my total score would easily go into our Award of Superiority range! Unfortunately, without these, this version is kind of a one-step-forward, two-steps-back situation.