Beauty Box 1.0 is a new video diffusion filter from Digital Anarchy, a company that got their start creating After Effects plugins, then left that market to focus on Photoshop plugins, and are now getting back to their roots with After Effects plugins once more. As they re-enter the video market with this skin retouching filter, they promise great looking diffusion with an automated user interface. This is a pretty sweet deal considering that most diffusion filters out there simply soften everything (foreground and background) and give the footage an unappealing "Barbara Walters interview" look. A glance under the hood of Beauty Box 1.0 showed me just what I was missing when it comes to diffusion.
A click of the Analyze Frame button, and the settings are automatically set.
Ease of Use
Beauty Box has a very intuitive design. My usual routine for working with new plug-ins is to first see what results I can achieve before reading any documentation. To my surprise, I was able to see great results with just a few clicks.
The workflow of Beauty Box is beautifully simplistic. A click of the "Analyze Frame" button creates a mask based on the selected frame. In most cases, this is all you need to do. The mask it makes from the start frame produces retouching that's precise enough to clean up most shots. For more intricate results the "Analyze All" button will analyze each frame and auto-adjust the mask.
A quick view of how Beauty Box masks its images.
Depth of Options
Surprisingly, Beauty Box is packed with tons of options, though its hard to say if you'll ever need to mess with them. Most of these options revolve around perfecting your mask. And while Beauty Box does a great job of automating the process, there's a lot of flexibility that allows for customization. Additional controls for blur and smoothing allow you to tweak the look of your footage. While most diffusion filters give a softness to the entire image, the key feature of Beauty Box is that it diffuses skin tones, and leaves the background alone.