Your average NLE’s built-in glow effects are a bit skinny. Taking Final Cut Pro X as an example, it’s actually not worth dragging the effect to the timeline. A plug-in like Red Giant’s Universe Glow doesn’t add a glow effect around the underlying footage elements; it’s completely independent and has its own merits and use, but it may not always be what you want. Hawaiki’s Super Glow, on the other hand, is a glow effect that “just” adds glow to underlying footage and does so with six “glow sources”. It offers complete control and the result can be simple but also complex.
FxFactory sells Hawaiki’s effects and that’s no different with Super Glow. The effect has a dazzling array of controls and parameters — which it has in common with other Hawaiki effects. I tested it with Final Cut Pro X, but it’s also available for Apple Motion, Premiere Pro and After Effects.
First observation is that the plug-in has so many controls, it could do with a user guide. That would be especially useful if you’re on a deadline because trial-and-error experimenting with this plug-in takes a while. Once you get the hang of it, though, you’ll never go back to the skimpy glow effects of your NLE or compositing app.
I’m not going to discuss the plug-in’s controls as there are too many and too much inter-dependence is going on to make sense out of just listing them. Suffice it to say you can adjust just about anything, including the number of “glowers” from zero to six — which even allows you to build up a glow effect through keyframing it.
And, of course, you can change colours, adjust the spread and a whole slew of other design elements. The key to this plug-in, however, is where and when to use it. There’s no easy answer. You can use it on common footage, e.g. a walk in the woods. Using Super Glow on the trees could very well work splendidly. A walk along the beach would be a bit less of a candidate as you’re dealing with large surfaces and not well-defined lines and curves that stand out more.
The best way to use Hawaiki Super Glow and the one that is bound to be the most jaw-dropping, is when you’re using it with lines and curves. I tried it out with several of Yanobox Nodes 3’s HUD elements and the effect was that you get an even more sci-fi design than without the glow — much more, in fact. Especially the ability to colour each of the six glows individually and then have the combined effect composite differently as well can make for reality-detaching effects.
When you’re using Super Glow on urban footage, you can create that same disconnect when you combine Super Glow with keyframing and Final Cut Pro X’s masking capabilities. Even as glows don’t work so well on surfaces, you can make Super Glow work well on them by tuning its controls, all the more so when they are intersected with lines — as most buildings with windows are. You can tune the effect so that the glow only works on what will stand out the most.
Conclusion: if you want to work with glow effects, you really need Super Glow. Other glow effects either stand or their own and serve a different purpose, or they are so weak and simple, it’s a laugh. Super Glow retails at $49 and is available in the FxFactory store. It works with Apple Motion and Final Cut Pro X.