TriLab Productions Digital Hotcakes Stock Footage Library Review

Get 'em While They're Hot

Need some slick looking, royalty-free backgrounds and overlay effects but don't have a Hollywood budget to purchase them? Order up a stack of TriLab's Digital Hotcakes and see your production quality make the specials board.

We received a cross section of TriLab's offerings that included its eight-volume Grand Slam motion graphics, volume one through four of its Wedding Essentials and a collection of Film Effects; twenty-one DVDs in all. The animated backdrops come as AVI and QuickTime files. The effects, lower thirds, and other composite elements include "keyable" green screen backgrounds and/or as groups of single frame Targa image sequences (TGA).

A visit to the tutorial section of the Digital Hotcakes Web site is essential for getting best results with these elements. TriLab provides instruction for using its files with Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Vegas, QuickTime Pro, Pinnacle Studio 9 and PowerPoint. We clicked on the Compositing using DH Alpha Mattes section and the QuickTime tutorial buffered and started playing quickly on one of our not-so-quick PCs. The audio was a bit compromised, most probably due to being over compressed. Also, the tutorial interface was in OS 9 but we were able to easily follow it, and in short time we had a very clean composite. We liked the "Click Here for PDF" option as well.


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I Can't Believe it's Not Film

We tore open Film FX (Volume 9) as soon as the shipment arrived from TriLab. We love peppering our pristine video with scratches, dust, hair and all the other objects filmmakers and projectionists have worked so hard to keep off their prints for the last one hundred years. Used sparingly, these effects can help give a video that "film look." The single DVD comes in your typical clamshell case and includes a simple color laser copy looking insert clearly showing thumbnails of the 42 effects. Aside from the above-mentioned film "defects", the collection includes countdowns, film grain, loose sprocket flares, clapboard wipes and more.

I Take This Hotcake to be My Lawfully Wedded Editing Assistant

Four volumes, comprising ten DVDs total, make up the Wedding Essentials collection. Each collection has between 48-65 backgrounds, animations, and opening and closing clips on two to three discs in typical DVD clamshell cases. The first three collections are fairly random with the fourth being satin and lace backgrounds and lower-thirds in fifteen different colors to match the color design of individual weddings. Demos at TriLab's Web site show how these effects can give your wedding videos that extra punch.

With the sophistication of present day special effects in music videos and films such as The Lord of the Rings and King Kong, some of the animations look a bit dated. That said, in the hands of a creative editor, these classic wedding images and animations in pastel purple, pink, blue and off-white of themes such as beach motifs, butterflies, bubbles, cakes, rings, presents, church doors, church bells, clouds, flowers, champagne and even disco balls can raise the production quality of your work above the competition.

It's Out of the Park

The eight volume Grand Slam collection comes in a reinforced plastic case holding a three-ringed binder. Its contents include five pages of thumbnail images of each of the 376 clips, ten DVDs and "a little something extra" in the form of a mini 8cm DVD called Lagniappe (don't put this in your slot loading DVD player). Lagniappe, an old Creole (Cajun) term meaning "something extra," is a small gift given from a merchant to a customer when they buy something, like the thirteenth bagel in a baker's dozen. This little gift contains 111 extra backgrounds.

The Grand Slam itself comes in these themes: Animated Backdrops, Organic Backdrops, Skydrops, Aquadrops, Pyromations, AcidDrops, Grids & Grunge and Alpha Mattes. We had good fun dropping the lightning, rain, falling money and other alpha clips on top of our Mini DV footage. Background animations looped well, the Targa files were a cinch to use and with a bit of tweaking using the Blue and Green Screen key effect and the Spill Suppressor — Green key effect in Final Cut Pro, we were able to get a good composite using the green screen footage. We could see both the organic and abstract background images being used for a host of circumstances from creative works to corporate and event pieces.

I'll Take a Second Helping

It appears that each and every clip from all of the above mentioned collections, plus others in TriLab's additional collections can be viewed at TriLab's Web site. Click on the thumbnails to see how they are animated or view the demo reels that accompany some of the collections. All backgrounds loop and all the collections come in either NTSC or PAL. Though some of the animations could be updated (along with some of the tutorials), the royalty-free Hotcake animations, intros, outros, looping backgrounds, transitions, wipes and overlays are a great addition at a low price point.


Mac & PC: DVD-ROM drive. Video editing software able to import MOV, AVI or TGA


  • Great value
  • Easy to use


  • Some animations dated
  • Tutorials need updating


A great group of clip accessories at reasonable prices.

$579 GrandSlam Package, $119 FilmFX Vol. 9, $119 ea. Wedding Essentials Vol.1-4 (two for $179 or all four for $349)
TriLab Productions
3135 Green Terrace Rd.
Shreveport, LA 71118
(866) 745-7334

Morgan Paar is Videomaker's technical editor, an award winning filmmaker and world traveler.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.