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Review: Trapcode Suite 13

The thirteenth release of Red Giant's motion suite is far from unlucky, with plenty of new and improved features for 3D professionals.

Our Verdict

Trapcode Suite is a must-have for After Effects users who want more control over their work, and the latest version's new and improved features make it a worthy upgrade.

Red Giant's Trapcode Suite has a large and well deserved following, with fans praising the fully loaded toolset. With that in mind it's hard to see where it could improve, but the latest version, the thirteenth release, has definitely brought more to the table.

Firstly there is a brand new tool in the suite: Trapcode Tao. It's a 3D motion graphics tool that brings a simple concept to life. Aimed at creating organic motion to a project defined by other elements, from paths to existing animation, Tao is simple and fun to use and can return great results in little time. Any After Effects CC user should be able to master it in a morning, as it is deeply integrated and feels familiar immediately. In use it's fast, slick and responsive, with almost instant feedback. If you need flourishes, ribbons or even ambient background animation, it's a nifty addition.

Each tool in the suite has something new to offer, but some have recieved less attention than others. Shine, Soundkeys, Starglow and Form have slightly boosted abilities, however, it's obvious that Particular has had the most development work and that's probably appropriate, as it's the most commonly used tool and the one that needed some updating.

The first time you start up Particular you might miss the biggest new feature, as the effects control palette looks very much like it always has, which will come as a relief to those who are comfortable with their methods. However, press the Effects Builder button and you may decide never to go back to your old methods.

3D motion graphics tool Trapcode Tao is simple and fun to use and returns great results in little time

What you are presented with is a preview window, showing your current particle settings live with a moveable emitter, so you can previz emitter animations, or different camera angles. The rest of this new interface is given over to specifics. Tabbed areas let you quickly switch from emitter settings to particle styles; including 3D particles. The GUI is well designed and finding your way round is a breeze.

If you are a Magic Bullet user, you'll recognise some of the other interface quirks, like the slide-in libraries, accessed by arrow buttons in the upper corners. This may all sound like a lot of clicking to get to a given area, but in use it's very fast, with each area well defined and logical. Moving from one type of emitter and then drilling into the colour or physics settings is really very easy.

Maybe check your GPU with the Effects Builder, as it does need a bit of power to remain smooth with some setups, but rest assured that this is a solid update and Particular remains at the top of the class.

This article originally appeared in 3D World magazine issue 207; buy it here.

The Verdict

out of 10

Trapcode Suite 13

Trapcode Suite is a must-have for After Effects users who want more control over their work, and the latest version's new and improved features make it a worthy upgrade.

Rob Redman
Rob Redman is the editor of 3D World and a 3D artist working in VFX and motion graphics for print, TV and film.