August 20, 2007

Jumpbacks HD Animations
Ethereal, Base Camp II and Subtle Impact Collections
Digital Juice - $99

Review by Steve Douglas

In an attempt to be concise, three collections from the long established company, Digital Juice, are the focuses of this review. Each DVD-Rom collection of High Definition, royalty free animations contains 20 16x9 aspect ratio animations per volume. Each clip comes in at 30 fps progressive and is completely loopable. At 1920x1080 the resolution is what you would expect a good quality animation to be. Utilizing Digital Juice's free Juicer 3 software, you may browse, search for and preview any number of other collections or preview what is on the disc prior to copying a clip over to your hard drive. All collections are compatible with either PC or Mac based non-linear editing systems as long as the NLE software is capable of in and outputting high definition media.

Currently, Digital Juice, in addition to their many standard definition collections has 20 volumes of HD animated backgrounds. Each collection has a different theme so if you are seeking a collection representing law and order, medical, corporate or high tech, then there are collections with those themes, and others, as well.

To be frank, I did not see a huge difference between these three collections and that might just have been the luck of the draw. All three collections contained several animations that I would consider using. It really would depend upon the project. I could easily envision myself making lower thirds out of many of the animations or using the full backgrounds behind a sports or weather program, perhaps an interview subject or under a credit roll. That really is what they are meant for.

The color palette of the Base Camp II disc is primarily attractive shades of blue. Adjusting the color temperature and hues is a simple thing and provides the editor with considerable extra flexibility when using them.

Swirling streaks and waves adjusted correctly in your timeline could make for non-intrusive backgrounds.

Also from the Base Camp II collection, this animation provides a dreamy cloud over water scenario.

The Subtle Impact collection consisted of the more specifically themed animations in 'subtle' color tones. One of an airplane crossed a map of the globe while a red flight line made its way around the world certainly would be useful in any travel based documentary. Another contained a deep blue moon, cloud, horizon animation whose lights were constantly shifting. While a bit cartoonish, I liked this one for its brilliance and lighting patterns. Others in this collection had gentle rose petals floating downward for a soft, romantic feel and floating lace over what appears to be green grass.

Probably one of the more eye-catching animations, the lighting effects blossom and glow.



The Subtle Impact collection has something for a variety of themes.

The Ethereal Collection was similar to the Base Camp II with several interesting animations. I noticed that several of the clips had similar particle characteristics.


And that really is the problem for me with several of these animations. While the quality and resolution found within all three Digital Juice collections is certainly very good, it is the animations themselves that, with several exceptions, leave me unimpressed. There are several animations that seem cartoonish and, other than coloring, appear to be almost identical. With other animations it is easy to spot the obvious layering that made the animations appear the way they do. To my mind, they should be seamless in their appearance. A good example of that could be the static moon over the earthly horizon animation found in the Subtle Impact collection. It is beautiful to look at but while the lights ebb and flow, there is no movement of the moon or earth. It appears layered rather than blended and the depth that should be in several of these animations appears missing.

These collections are certainly within the financial reach of most everyone and Digital Juice's reasonable pricing makes for an inviting purchase. It is hard to criticize one's art work when I, myself, cannot draw a straight line as there are a good number of very useful animations in any of these and other Digital Juice animation collections. Their website provides helpful tutorials and tips as I wish more websites would do. I guess my bottom line is that for the hobbyist looking to get started with an animation collection at a fair price, then Digital Juice might just have the collection for you. For the serious producer, animations of a higher quality (and price) may be called for.

Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 6 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, and a recent History channel MegaDisaster show. Steve is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Kenya & Lembeh Straits in Indonesia in 2007, the Coco Islands, Costa Rica & Truk Lagoon in 2008 and safari in Africa for 2009. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips.


copyright © Steve Douglas 2007

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