REVIEW FEBRUARY 14 , 2001
Synthetik Studio Artist 1.5

[Page 4 of 4]

You might also notice, looking at the panels above, that there's a little button labeled "Action." The Action button sets Studio Artist to work for you, automatically generating an image from your source image based on your Paint Synthesizer (or preset) settings. You can use it, for example, to recreate your source image as a soft, chalk-like image, then set it to sketch the image's outlines in a pencil or charcoal style to bring definition back in. This is a powerful feature and one that comes especially in handy when it comes to rotoscoping, which we'll look at next.

Rotoscoping and autorotoscoping
Out of the box, Studio Artist comes packed with some of the most powerful rotoscoping features available anywhere. This isn't rotoscoping in the sense of removing guide wires from a frame, though you can certainly do this. This is the ability to recreate the individual frames of a movie as if they had been hand-painted. It's called autorotoscoping, and it involves some pretty sophisticated algorithms coupled with an intuitive methodology.

Since a large portion of Studio Artist's market is composed of designers, you might not know exactly what rotoscoping is. Very briefly, it means manipulating individual frames of a movie. But Studio Artist takes it a step farther.

It works through a process called PASeq, or "paint action sequence." Essentially, Studio Artist can record every single thing you do to an image and apply your actions to subsequent images or, as the case may be, movie frames. Using the example discussed above, I can have Studio Artist automatically recreate one frame as a soft painting with edge sketch, then apply the same effects to subsequent frames, with each brush stroke individually painted. You can click on the images below to see QuickTime examples of Studio Artist's rotoscoping capabilities.

Now take it a step further still. Studio Artist is resolution-independent. The strokes that Studio Artist creates are based on the color, luminosity and saturation of sampled points from an image, not on specific pixels. This means you can work off low-resolution files and generate files of any resolution.

Of course, you can also work manually on a frame by frame basis, using all of the painting tools available in the paint synthesizer. You can also, for example, record specific paint paths and animate your strokes over time, across layers, up and down in scale, etc. You can even use it as an animation tool. (Click here to see my example of using Studio Artist for animation.) For that matter, you can even use it to record QuickTime movies as you paint. (Click here to see an example of this.)

Now, keep in mind that pictures don't paint themselves quickly. Studio Artist's rotoscoping capabilities are powerful, but sometimes render times can be quite long. It is drawing each frame stroke by stroke, after all. But render times vary widely depending on what you want to do. You can render at a frame per second or a few minutes per frame. That's just the cost for the quality that comes out of this application.

The bottom line
It's impossible to go into all of the features of Studio Artist in one lifetime. In fact, the program's creator once confessed to me that even he doesn't know everything this program does. Suffice to say that you will be pleasantly surprised by Studio Artist just about every time you launch it. You might buy it for its painting capabilities, but you will be drawn into its motion effects as well. You might come to it for rotoscoping, in which case you will find there is nothing else like it available on any platform. I give Studio Artist an unreserved strong buy recommendation.

By the way, you can visit a number of tutorials here at Digital Media Net. Specific links are provided on the opening page of this review. You can also check in at the Studio Artist user forum here at the WWUG, which happens to be hosted by me. Or you can visit Synthetik at http://www.synthetik.com. Stay tuned for many more tutorials as we explore this amazingly powerful program.

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