Sunday, 3 May 2009

Shortcut for viewing alpha overlay with motion blur in Silhouette 3

A big problem for users coming to Silhouette 3 from version 2.3 is the lack of some shortcuts that made the roto workflow in 2.3 so fast and comfortable.
The number one shortcut that is missing is the good old "Shift+A" to toggle between Alpha Overlay (with motion blur) and the Foreground.
The problem is the new "Node" architecture where you can only see motion blur when you're looking at the Output Node.

But the guys at SilhouetteFX listened and have added all the necessary keybinds so the old 2.3 workflow is now possible again (Well done guys!).
The ingredients are actually in the default but you still have to modify it a bit.

Below is an updated rgba() function. Just replace the old one with this one.

# RGBA mode

rgba_mode = False
rgba_prev_view = 0
rgba_prev_view_node = None

def rgba():
global rgba_prev_view_node
global rgba_mode
global rgba_prev_view

rgba_mode = not rgba_mode
if rgba_mode:
rgba_prev_view_node = fx.viewer.viewNode
rgba_prev_view = fx.viewer.viewMode
fx.viewer.setChannelMask(fx.Color(1, 1, 1, 1))
fx.viewer.setChannelMask(fx.Color(1, 1, 1, 0))

fx.bind('Shift+a', rgba)

So with this function added you can now tweak your splines in the roto node while looking at the Roto Node Foreground View and by pressing "Shift+a" you can now jump to viewing the Output Node with Alpha Overlay and normal Overlay disabled. Pressing "Shift+a" again brings you back to the Roto Node Foreground View.

One very important shortcut that is still missing is a shortcut for looking at the Composite with motion blur. At the moment this is unfortunately not easily done.
SilhouetteFX would either have to add a keybind to enable/disable nodes (in this case the Composite Node / At the moment i don't know why there is a Composite Node anyway but maybe they want to add more sophisticated stuff to this node later) or add a Composite View to the Output Node (which would make a lot of sense imo).


Pedro said...

Hi Peter,
I live in Australia and are involved in independent filmmaking. For the past four years when working in post I have used After Effects and Commotion - and are now finding my way with Silhouette and Motion.

Silhoutte3 is truly superb as a rotoscoping tool, and it is a bonus that exported shapes import easily in to AE. However, there probably hasn't been one Silhouette roto (with edge feathering) that hasn't crashed.

My way of mastering software is to use it repeatedly and look at any material available on the application. Unfortunately, SFX seem only to have made their manual available. Do you know where I could get hold of Silhoutte3 training on DVD, or book? I have looked high and low on the internet and no company (Creative Cow, inc) seem to make training available for this software. But why? How do I get to master painting and tracking in Silhoutte3?

Many thanks,

Loga said...

Hi Pedro,

yes AE treats feathering very differently to Silhouette so importing might cause problems. I tend to render mattes whenever i can but obviously shapes are needed in certain cases.

Considering training on Silhouette, fxphd had an introduction to Silhouette course a couple of years ago. J Bills has also done a Silhouette course over at Pixelcorps in the past. Maybe you can check their sites now and again if they offer a new one.

Since you already come from using Commotion i guess you had a good start.
I found the manual to be pretty good.
The best way to learn Silhouette for now is to work with it i guess.


Pedro said...

Hi Peter. Thank you for the leads. Both of the organisations you mention are based in North America and appear to be set up for high-end industry training. I am an inde filmmaker with little aspiration in this area. And whereas I am interested in training from DVD or books, I have no interest in protracted (and expensive) training on line.

Forgive me if I return to the issue of Sfx's Silhouette manual. You say that you found the manual pretty good. When reading it, I wished that a woman would have been recruited to write it. Perhaps then the author's voice would not have take for granted that certain knowledge in the reader is a given. It just seems to me that if a company does not use a clear, simple and approachable voice for their primary information, then they should provide additional, more easily grasped information via DVD, hard copy publications, etc. What do you think?

I agree, AE does treat feathering quite differently to Silhouette. My point really was that Silhouette is not really "robust" when rendering a shape that has been feathered. But then, my experiments with Silhouette's paint function have been disappointing, too. Compare Silhouette's paint tool freezing after every paint action, against
the resilience of paint engine in Photoshop Extended CS4.


Loga said...

Yes i liked the manual. Although of course there's always room for improval.
Silhouette is a high end software and it's always hard for a company to write a manual for users with different levels of experience.

But i totally agree that loads of companies miss the opportunity to bring their product to a wider audience by not supplying basic free training or introductory tutorials. It's really bad marketing.

An example of a company that makes use of this powerful tool is The Foundry.
They offer loads of free training for Nuke.
This makes it easy for new users to get into the software and see how useful/powerful it is.
I definitely believe this is one of the reasons why Nuke became so popular so quickly (of course it's also a fantastic software).

Hmm actually the biggest advantage of Silhouette Paint is that it's a very robust responsive paint engine with real time playback. No freezes for me here.