Monday, April 19, 2010
Doing a review of Auto FX releases is sort of like trying to count chickens. You think you're done -- but you inevitably see something new. The reason? There are simply too many things to look at and evaluate if you're going to do a thorough job.
Regular readers of this blog (and who isn't...?) know that Mystical Lighting 1.0 is one of my absolute favorite utilities. Often a simple nudge from one of the utilities in Mystical Lighting can be used to make any image really pop.
So I was delighted to get the latest "Mystical Lighting & Ambiance 2.0" just before I left for Florida. It gave me an opportunity to really play around (oops...I mean "Make a meaningful examination of...") this filter set.
It's split into three broad categories.
This is where 1.0 really shone. (Pun intended.)It's where 2.0 shines as well. There are a number of outstanding "easy to use" lighting effects. In 2.0 you can brighten highlights, infuse the image with wonderful warm sunlight -- a total of 14 different effects are here.
Admittedly, some will be very specific in their applications -- but I think most graphic artists and photographers will find really useful options here. Effects can be subtle or "in your face" splashes of color and light.
I very much like what has been done with my favorite from 1.0: radial light caster. Very simple to use -- and much more easily customizable in 2.0. "Light in the Dark" and "Mood Lighting" are both excellent utilities. They are not as easy to use as other filters in the set. But you'll be wise to spend a few minutes learning them.
Here's where the real treasures lie in 2.0. You can create vast mood and atmosphere with the careful application of what's waiting inside this category. Try Black Shade for instant jaw dropping atmosphere...or try Shadow Play to take your images to whole new levels. There are 5 very good shading options here.
Here's where I found myself really looking forward to seeing the new stuff. There are eight options here. Add Ethereal lighting...or paint with rainbows and mist. I found it fairly similar to 1.0 in many respects -- although it's a package geared to allow for easier, faster customization of effect.
Some software manufactures issue upgrades with cosmetic changes, but very little little that is actually NEW. Mystical Lighting and Ambiance 2.0 isn't one of those. A lot of thought went into each filter, and how best to create practical applications. Overall, it's a good upgrade. If you haven't had this filter set in your arsenal at all -- you really need to give it your attention.
If you're considering upgrading from 1.0, let me suggest that you download the demo from Auto FX and look it over. There's some great new stuff here which, to my mind, easily justifies the upgrade price. (There are some time sensitive discounts available as well. Check out the interview with Cliff Weems just below.)
Did Mystical Lighting and Ambiance blow me away? Not exactly. But in all fairness, my expectations were so high, and my use of 1.0 so common, I don't know what Auto FX could have done to send me into the "Blown away" zone -- as they did with their outstanding upgrade to Mystical Tint Tone and Color.
As with all filter sets from Auto FX, you really need to sit down and take a hard look at each option, spending a little time on learning how to use it properly. It's an excellent investment of time.
In summary: great creative options here. You can build fabulous atmosphere into your images with just a few keystrokes. Smart designers will really make a study of the many options built into this upgrade to learn how to use them most effectively.
Overall rating: 8.5/10