Trapcode Suite 13: Standout features from the latest update

| 02 Dec, 2015

At Jellyfish, we‘re busy creating awesome motion graphics and animation for our clients, (if we do say so ourselves!) but you might not be aware that we rely on an arsenal of third-party plugins to efficiently achieve some of the more complex effects within our videos.

The Trapcode effects suite has been a staple for motion designers like myself for a number of years. The industry-standard effects package is extremely popular and its use spans a huge variety of projects both large and small, including some of this year’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters The Martian and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Now Red Giant Software are back with the newly released Trapcode Suite 13 for Adobe After Effects.


Although the package is comprised of an impressive eleven products, Red Giant have managed to update all of them with significant feature tweaks and/or performance improvements.

Here are a couple of features in the new release that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

1. Trapcode Particular v2.5 Effects Builder

This time around Particular has seen a major update with a new sprite library, 130 new presets and the ability to render up to 30 million particles (up from 20 million!) Most importantly however is the addition of the new Effects builder feature, making it easier than ever to create fire, water, smoke, and organic particle effects.

The Effects builder takes a lead from competitor Video CoPilot’s latest offerings (Optical Flares, Element 3D) by abstracting the user away from the standard Adobe After Effects UI consisting of a long list of – often brain-melting - number values and effects parameters, and provides its very own, simple to use, custom user interface.


This vastly simplifies the traditional workflow of building and customising particle effects by enabling artists to simply drag & drop ‘blocks’ of particle behaviours and styles onto the effects ‘chain’ to create mind blowing results. The built-in instant preview window also gives real-time visual feedback for a more creative and intuitive user experience.

In future, I’d like to see controls for all the more complex, procedural effects within Adobe After Effects implemented in this way with their own dedicated UI. The addition of the new Particular effects builder is a big step forward in helping to demystify the plugin.

2. Trapcode Tao 1.0

The second interesting – and perhaps the most exciting - addition to suite 13 is an entirely new plugin in the form of Trapcode Tao. 

I’ve actually been keeping a close eye on Tao’s progress over the summer as developer Peder Norrby teased examples of it in action throughout the beta testing phase on his Twitter feed (@trapcode_lab).

The plugin is similar (in some respects) to the already existing Trapcode Mir plugin, in that it creates procedural 3D geometry complete with photo-realistic shadows and reflections. But Tao (literally translated as ‘path’ in Chinese) also has a smattering of another great pre-existing Trapcode Effect ‘3D stroke’ thrown in for good measure. This gives the user even more versatility with their graphics allowing any geometry generated to be mapped along 3D paths, mask shapes or tracked onto motion from 3D lights.

ecause the plugin is so new, the majority of the examples online are fairly abstract in nature, but as its popularity grows I think there’s definitely room for it to be used in more everyday motion graphics projects. Personally I’m keen to put Tao through its paces by using the 3D paths to create some interesting typographic treatments!

3. What does this mean?

With new plugins like Tao and great workflow innovations like the new Particular Effects Builder, the Trapcode Suite will remain one of the industry’s most essential tools for motion graphics and visual effects, and will enable Jellyfish to continue producing great videos for our clients.


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