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Plug into Macworld

With Apple's renewed focus on content creators, it should come as no surprise that a small army of Photoshop plug-in developers will be present at this week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco. What new goodies should you look for in the Photoshop plug-in universe? With vendors like Alien Skin, Chroma Graphics, DigiEffects, Extensis, MetaCreations, Pantone, and Wacom, there's bound to be something to strike your plugged-in fancy.

The only ultra-new, never-seen-before plug-in I've run across so far is Chroma Graphics' EdgeWizard. The new release is the second in Chroma's trio of high-performance image masking plug-ins. Following on the heels of MagicMask, EdgeWizard is billed as a set of "perfectly wicked edge blending tools." With the addition of EdgeWizard, Chroma goes head-to-head with Extensis MaskPro. The combination of EdgeWizard and MagicMask should raise the bar yet another notch.


Although the Spring and Fall Seybold Seminars are definitely the most important shows for plug-in developers, a healthy selection of recently released plug-ins will be shown at the Moscone Convention Center.

Alien Skin (those folks with the brightly colored hair) have a new version of Eye Candy 3.0 for After Effects, tuned specifically for Adobe's powerful video editing program. Video producers should love the wild effects, such as simulations of smoke, fire, and fur, as well as powerful beveling controls and alpha channel support. [Alien Skin has posted a press release (in an inconvenient Acrobat file), dated 06-Jan-98, announcing plans to ship Eye Candy 3.1 for After Effects on 31-Jan-98, so it's likely the company will demonstrate version 3.1 at the show. -Tonya]


BoxTop Software's Travis Anton will demo Boxtop's new ImageVice image preprocessing plug-in along with the latest and greatest version of PhotoGIF Filter in the "Choosing and Using Tools for the Coolest Web Site" conference (Session 13 of the Web Technical (Tools) Track). [Look for a full review of ImageVice in TidBITS soon. -Adam]


Extensis will bring the latest version (2.0) of the popular PhotoTools plug-in set. This new version includes PhotoCastShadow (a new cast shadow creation tool that competes with Andromeda's recently released Perspective Shadow filter) and PhotoButton (for quick button creation), along with enhancements to the PhotoText text editing plug-in. [Additionally, Extensis today announced Extensis PhotoFrame 1.0, a new Photoshop plug-in that helps in creating frames and borders for images. Extensis will demo PhotoFrame at Macworld Expo and plans to ship it in February for an estimated street price of $129.95. Extensis also announced a new Photoshop bundle, the $199.95 PowerSuite for Adobe Photoshop, which includes Intellihance 3.0 (an image-enhancement plug-in), as well as Portfolio 3.0 and PhotoTools 2.0. -Tonya]


Imagedrome should demonstrate a new beveling plug-in, Imazine the Tools-Bevel Pro. This diminutive startup company faces formidable competition in the beveling arena from the likes of Alien Skin, Extensis, and Fortune Hill (WildRiver SSK).


Pantone's long-awaited HexWrench plug-in creates six-channel separations (CMYK plus orange and green) that can be saved in DCS or Photoshop format. If you're producing high-end color print work, have a serious budget, and are looking for more punch, definitely check into this one.


Got a Wacom tablet? Check out Wacom's freebie plug-ins! The tablet manufacturer will show PenTools 2.0, which include two new plug-ins, Bit Blaster and Metal Leafer.


Stay tuned for more. We can expect to see a rash of hot new plug-ins for Photoshop and Acrobat when the Adobe Plug-In Developer Pavilion returns to Seybold New York this spring.

[Daniel Gray is a journeyman designer/author. His most recent work, The Photoshop Plug-Ins Book (Ventana Press), is a virtual encyclopedia of Photoshop plug-ins.]



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