Join Amy Leland for an in-depth discussion in this video Deep compositing with ConnectFX, part of Smoke 2015 Essential Training.
In this lesson, we're going to explore an area of Smoke called Connect Effects. While there are many Effects we can apply to clips directly in the timeline, Connect effects is generally where we'll go to do more complex effects. There are a lot of wonderful Effects tools inside of connect effects that let us build very complex effects relatively easily. I'm going to give you a first tour of the interface now and then later we'll explore this area in a lot more detail. You may recall from the last lesson that we applied a 2D transform to both of the clips in the timeline.
We use that effect to resize and reposition the clips in the frame. If I take a look at this second clip, if I have the clip selected, I can see its 2D transform effect here in the toolbar. If I click that blue light to mute the effect or turn it off, I can see what the clip looks like at its standard framing. And then I can turn the effect back on. I want you to see this because one thing to be aware of with Connect Effects, some of our timeline effects if I apply in Connect Effects will get translated into effects inside of the Connect Effects environment.
Our 2D transform will not always be brought inside so I want you to see that when I bring this clip inside of Connect Effects, it will be back at its full framing this way. But I'm going to turn that back on so you can see that. I access Connect Effects the same way I do any other effect which is either by clicking on this Effects button, right clicking on the clip to choose Add an effect, or our shortcut Ctrl+Tab. And right here is Create Connect Effects. I'm going to to click that and it'll take us right into the Connect Effects environment.
And I just again want to point out, here is my clip that is at full frame, there is no resizing or repositioning applied. We will talk about this Connect Effects environment much more in later lessons. For now I'm just going to give you the basics. When I come in to Connect Effects, this default environment set up that I have has some very important elements to it. First of all, by default, I'm looking a two different windows in here that give me the views I use the most often when I work in Connect Effects. On the left I have what's called the Connect Effects Schematic. This is where we will build those node based effects.
In other words, I'm going to build an effects path from the original clip out to the Connect Effects output that will go to the time line. And on that path I will add effect nodes to build my effect. On the right side, the window here will display my final result. There are other views that you can use, but this default setup will serve you well for most of the Connect Effects work that you're going to do. The other very important element of this window is our node bend at the bottom. This is why we call this node based effects.
All of our effects are represented by these nodes. And when I want to apply one of them to the clip, I simply add that node into my schematic. If you ever can't see this node bin and want to find a node to add another effect to your schematic, this Effects Nodes button is how you get access to that. If I turn that off you'll notice my nodes go away. I click that on and there's my nodes bin. There are many, many, many effects available in this nodes bin. You'll see we have a lot of effects down here and again, we'll explore a lot of this over lessons later in the course.
We also have some tabs giving us access to some categories, so for instance, nodes that are specific to color correction, to keying, to compositing. You can also create your own tabs, I can click this plus button to create my own tab. And I'm going to call this My Nodes and Enter. And what I can do is use this tab to collect whatever nodes I'd like to collect. So for instance, if I use this automat node a lot I could drag that node, drop it on the My Nodes tab, there it is.
I use the color warper a lot, I can grab that node, drop it on top of my nodes tab, there it is. Again, you can collect the nodes you use more frequently to make it easier to find them. You can also quickly locate nodes by holding your mouse over this nodes bin and typing the first letter of the name of the effect. So for instance, if I were looking for edge detect I could hold my mouse over the bin, type the letter E, and what are highlighted are just the nmodes that start with the letter E. In this case just edge detect. But what I'm going to do is apply some simple effects just to give you an idea of how the nodes work.
First of all, that 2D transform that was removed when I came in. I can reapply that by taking this 2D transform node and adding it to my schematic. To add an effect to this schematic and have it take effect right away, it's very easy. I'm going to grab that 2D transform node with my mouse, hold down the Option key, drag it into my schematic. And then wait until I see this path glow and let go and that effect has been added into the path. I can now get access to the controls for that effect by double-clicking on that node and you'll notice that these controls look an awful lot like the timeline effect so I could scale the clip up.
I could position it over a little bit to the left and center her in the frame a little bit better, just like I did with the 2D transform. All of these nodes have inputs and outputs that allow them to become a part of that schematic. So, on the left side of every node will be the available inputs. And you'll see different colors depending on the effect. They take different inputs depending on the effect. All nodes typically take a red input which is your front plate. What is the media or clip coming into the effect that's going to be effected by it? Some clips will also include a blue input, which is a mat input.
in other words, if I were going to mask his effect in some way with a mat image, I would bring that mat into the input here. Other effects may have in this position a green input for a back plate. So for example, an effect that's meant to composite two clips together. One of them might be a front clip and one might be a back clip. All effects will have some kind of output. All will have, at the very least, the yellow output for the result. Again, some may allow you to output a separate map. We'll see different things as we use this Connect Effects throughout the course.
The main thing to understand right now is that in order to create complex effects we build paths with these nodes, and then we access the individual controls of a node by double clicking it. And whenever I want to see the overall effect of the whole path I select this final node, this CFX results node to see what's been sent back out to the timeline. But to give you an idea of how this works let's add another node. I'll click here on my Effects nodes bin, and the other effect that I'm going to add is called Flip, so in other words the director's told me, we meant to shoot this from the other angle to have her facing toward the left side of the frame instead of the right side of the frame, can you fix that for me? Sure.
I'm going to come down here and find this node that says Flip, hold down the Option key, I'm going to drag it and again, wait for that path to be lit up. I let go, and that has now been added into this path. Once you start to have this effects path building, here's a really good trick to know. You can use this path to walk through and see step by step what's being done to the clip. If I select the original clip I see it in my Results view with no effect applied.
I click on the next node, here it is with the 2D transform applied. I click on the next node, here it is with the flip added on top of the 2D transform and then at any time I can look at the final result by selecting the CFX node. But what if I wanted to see what the clip would like with the Flip if the 2D transform weren't applied. There are two ways to do that. One is, I could disable the 2D transform without removing it from the schematic. By selecting that 2D transform node and down here, on the very bottom right of the screen, all nodes have a Bypass button.
I click that Bypass button and now this node is being bypassed and you'll notice that its output is now red instead of yellow. The clip will pass through that node, but without being affected by it. Which means I can now look at this flipped node and see what this clip would look like if it were flipped, even if the 2D transform weren't applied. But I'm going to select that 2D transform note again, turn its bypass off. It's now, once again, a part of the schematic.
If I wanted to remove an effect from the path completely, if I ever wanted to take one of these nodes out of the path, there are two ways to do that. I could either remove the node from the schematic entirely and the easiest way to do that is to grab this node, I'm going to drag all the way down here to the bottom of the screen until I see this little trash can icon, and I'm going to let go. It is now gone from the schematic entirely. I'm going to undo that. If I'd like to remove this node from the current schematic but keep it around in case I decide to use it later, rather than eliminating it from the schematic entirely I'm just going to take it out of the path.
And when you want to remove a node from the path, you can always cut any path between two nodes by clicking and dragging across that path to cut the string. And I'm going to do that to both sides of the path that were connecting this node into the schematic. And I'm just going to move it out of the way. All I need to do now is reconnect my original clip to the input on the flip which I can do two ways. I can click on the output from the clip and drag a path to the input on the flip.
And they're now connected, and if I select that flipped node, I can see it flipped again. Or, and let me click and drag to sever that, you can also hold down your Option key and move one node toward another and when they get close enough, you'll see their inputs and outputs glow. There's now a path. And if I ever want to place this 2D transform back into the path, all I have to do is hold down the Option key and then drag it over to the path until I see the path glow. As we get further into this course, we'll return to Connect Eeffects and build some very complex and interesting effects.
But the idea is always the same. Start with your initial media. Add a collection of effects that add up together into an overall look and send that back out to the timeline. When I'm done working, I will exit the Connect Effects and when I come back out to the timeline I'll have a new clip in the timeline representing my Connect Effect scene. Now one nice change in Smoke 2015, in previous versions of Smoke, all Connect Effects clips had to be rendered before they would playback.
Now, as you can see, I can scrub through the clip. I may even be able to playback, although playback quality or dropped frames may vary. If you've done enough that it simply won't playback, you can select the clip and render it, which I'll do now. And when I render, I'm simply asking Smoke to pre-process this effect so that it doesn't have to be processed in real time every time the play head moves. And that is an introduction to Connect Effects. We'll return to this for a lot more detail later in the course.
- Creating a project and user
- Importing and organizing media
- Editing in the timeline
- Trimming in the timeline
- Connecting scenes with transitions
- Using timeline effects like 2D Transform and Action
- Color correcting
- Adding 3D objects to a scene
- Working with titles and 3D text
- Exporting your final project