Red Giant Universe Review

A video editor is better off when they have useful tools at their disposal. The video transitions and video effects that are standard within most video editing programs are not always enough. Clients often seek out the video editor whose work features the latest visual trends, which means that relying on standard video effects might get a talented video editor looked over. The plug-ins used for video effects and video transitions don't necessarily make the video editor, but they are helpful to have on hand. Traditionally, plug-ins are made by third-party producers who write and sell the plug-ins for specific video editing programs. Usually, it works out well for most video editors, but it can get expensive as new plug-ins come out and new versions of the video editing programs are released, thus outdating the video editor's plug-ins. Red Giant is an industry name well-known for their plug-ins and tools which are helpful to video editors and motion graphic artists. They've come out with a new solution, with plenty of video effects and video transitions, built to assist time pressed video editors. 

Relying on standard video effects might get a talented video editor looked over.

Red Giant Universe

Universe is a community that gives video editors and motion graphic artists access to a growing library of tools, effects plug-ins and transitions. Membership to Universe is free and so are the majority of its tools and plug-ins. There are premium tools which users can subscribe to or purchase a perpetual license for their use. 

Simple RGB Separation
Simple RGB Separation
Universe plug-ins are a combination of upgraded effects from the Red Giant Effects Suite, brand new plug-ins and a set of upgraded and new premium tools that are well-known among Red Giant fans. The premium tools include Knoll Light Factory EZ, Holomatrix, ToonIt and Retrograde. Some of the popular free video effects include Camera Shake, RGB Displacement and Simple RGB Separation.

Tools in Universe are built to take advantage of a computer's GPU. This includes existing Red Giant plug-ins, which are now part of Universe. For example, Knoll Light Factory is now five times faster than before. 

Red Giant Link

Included with Universe is the Red Giant Link, an application that installs and tracks the user’s various versions of Red Giant plug-ins. Red Giant Link will install the plug-ins across the user’s platform, into all applicable software packages. In other words, a single install with Red Giant Link will install the plug-ins into Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X. There are customizable presets built for the plug-ins, which are designed to work the same across all applications. 

Universe Membership

Red Giant has streamlined their development process, meaning they will be continually adding free and premium content to Universe. Universe tools are built to work with Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro X and Apple's Motion. The membership price for premium content starts at $10 per month and is scaled to be more affordable with a longer commitment. An annual membership cost $99 per year, while a "lifetime" membership is $399. 

Universe Tests

The tests for the Universe suite of effects were performed on an iMac with a 2.93GHz i7 Intel CPU with 8GB of RAM and an ATI Radeon 5750 graphics card. The computer is running OS X 10.9.2 and Universe was tested in Adobe After Effects CC, Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Final Cut Pro X. The effects were applied in various projects that were set up in a similar fashion with three layers of footage at 1080p, all with animated masks, an overall adjustment layer and animated text. Effects were applied to both the individual layers and stacked on the adjustment layer.

One thing that stands out with Universe effects is the speed. The effects are fast and efficient, able to playback and render with little, if any, lag time. The majority of the effects are built to work in a 32-bit color space, while taking advantage of GPU processing. Premium effects rendered fast and offered a wide range of presets. The presets are diverse, allowing the user to quickly change and apply a variety of looks.

Knoll Light Factory EZ
The lens flares of Knoll Light Factory EZ rendered instantaneously, an incredibly different experience from the early days of the effect’s predecessor.

Universe is an exceptional value for video editors of any skill level. The video effects and transitions are fast and easy to manage. Red Giant Link is a useful utility and a great convenience for anyone having to manage multiple plug-ins across multiple pieces of software. The downside is Universe is still in its infancy, but growth seems to be the model as Universe is built to expand based on user input. It will be interesting to see how Universe Labs develops and connects users. 


Red Giant Universe provides an exceptional value of fast rendering effects and transitions for video editors of any skill level.

Red Giant
Basic Universe membership: Free
Premium Membership:

Tech Specs

System Requirements
Mac OS X 10.8.5
Windows 7 x64 Home and Professional
Windows 8
GPU: Intel HD 300 integrated graphics chip or greater
NVIDIA 5000 series and up   
AMD 6000, 7000, or 200 series and up
Any Intel or AMD CPU

Host Applications
Final Cut Pro X 10.0.9, Adobe After Effects CS5.5 and up, Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 and up


  • Fast rendering with GPU acceleration
  • Free effects and transitions
  • Convenience of Red Giant Link
  • Diverse number of presets


  • No Trapcode, Keying or Color Suite plug-ins

Chris “Ace” Gates is a four time Emmy Award-winning writer and video producer.

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