TUTORIAL MARCH 6 , 2001
Part 2: How To Make Your Own Filters for Adobe Premiere
Using ResEdit to add a personal touch to your effects creations
Last week we took a tour of the Filter Factory for Adobe Premiere and learned how to create some basic effects with some pretty simple mathematical formulas. We also learned how to save these filters as Premiere plugins for your repeated use or distribution to other Premiere users. (If you didn't read last week's tutorial, you can view it here.) Now, before we get into some more complex functions in Filter Factory, I thought it would be a good idea to teach you how to make your own custom interfaces for the filters you create. After all, the basic interface of a Filter Factory filter is a bit Spartan, and you're a create professional, so....
Let's get started
Now, this tutorial only works for the Mac. I'm sure there's a way to do this in Windows, but I don't know it. You can probably also do this on a Mac to Premiere filters for Windows, as long as you can get a hold of a Mac and bring the filters you've created onto the Mac. I haven't tested this yet (and probably never will), so I advise you to make backups of your filters so you don't wreck anything permanently.
In fact, even if you're working on Mac filters, you're going to want to make backups. Do so before proceeding further because this method can have some unpredictable results, and you don't want to throw away all that effort.
For this tutorial, we're going to be using ResEdit 2.1.3, a free utility from Apple. If you don't already have it on your Mac, you can download it from any number of sites, including http://www.download.com. (Just do a search for "resedit," and our program will be the first one in the list.) We're also going to be using Photoshop to make the graphic elements for our interface. You can use any graphics program though.
So go ahead and create your graphics. For my filters, I'm using a very simple look, just a graphic with the name of my Web site and some big text showing the name of the filter. One important thing to keep in mind is that you need to create groups of graphics, rather than one big graphic. The reason for this is that we're going to be copying and pasting our graphics into ResEdit, and we don't want our interface graphics to cover up our sliders and other functional interface elements. ResEdit doesn't allow you to move elements backward and forward in layer order. There's a way around it, which I'll discuss, but it produces problems sometimes.
So, let's assume you have your graphics ready to go. If you're using Photoshop, select the area of your canvas with your marquee tool and copy it. (If your graphic uses multiple layers, use Shift-Command-C to copy all the layers at once.)
Find ResEdit on your hard drive. If you're using large graphics, it'll be a good idea to increase ResEdit's memory partition. To do so, just select ResEdit and type Command-I (for "Get Info"). In the little pull-down menu labeled "General Information," select "Memory." In the little box labeled "Preferred Size," enter in a larger number, say 5000 or 10000. Then close the information window.
Now open up ResEdit. Click on the little Jack in the box to make it go away, and select the filter you want to customize when the dialog box comes up.
Once it opens it, you should be looking at a window containing a dozen or so weird-looking icons. Look for the one called "DITL" (as seen above). Double-click it to open it up. Now you'll see a single item with the ID of 101 and a size of 620.
Now that you've opened that up, you're looking at your filter's interface. It doesn't have all of your settings listed, but they're there. You should see a rectangular box, some sliders and a "Cancel" and "OK" button. From this point on, any changes you make to this window will be made to your actual filter.
The first thing I did to my filter was to make its interface bigger. To accomplish this, just stretch the window. You'll notice that your interface elements don't change. To move them, just select them and drag them. (You can select all, move an individual item or drag a marquee around multiple items.)
The second thing I did was to increase the size of my preview window. This is easy. The preview window is that gray box on the right of the window. This is the area that will give the user a preview of your filter's effect as he or she adjusts your sliders. In its default form, this thing is just too tiny to be of any use. I'm going to make mine 400 x 300. Make sure you use an aspect ratio that will fit the video format you're going to be working in primarily.
To alter the size of the preview window, just select it and drag it by its bottom right corner, just as you would resize any window. Make it any size you want. From my perspective, the bigger the better. If you want to be exact about it, open up the preview window by double clicking on it. You will see four numbers indicating the top, bottom, right and left positions of the box. To make the preview 400 x 300, just add 300 to the "Top" number and place the result in the "Bottom" field. Then take the "Left" number and add 400, placing the result in the "Right" field. (See below.)
While we're on the topic, you've probably noticed one of the problems with Filter Factory, namely that the text next to your sliders gets cut off. To rectify this situation, just grab one of your text boxes there and stretch it out. (You can also just double-click on the text box and enter a numeric value for the width of the text box. (Use the number labeled "Right," as seen highlighted below, and enter in a larger value. This is actually the position of the right side of the text box, not its width, so the number will change if you reposition the text box later.)
If your new graphics cover up your functional interface elements, just move them into a better position. You can arrange these elements over your graphics, but the results can be iffy. To do so, just cut the elements using Command-X, and then paste them back in. When you paste them back in, they automatically more to the top of the layer order. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't. You won't know until you try out your filter. Whatever you do, don't cut all of the elements at once. This seems to confuse ResEdit and causes it to reassign functionality to each element. (For example, your preview window might become the "OK" button, even though it still looks like the preview window. I learned this the hard way.)
When you're all done laying out your interface, save your file and quit ResEdit. Now move your redesigned filter into the Premiere Plug-Ins folder and test it out. (Of course, you'll need to quit and relaunch Premiere to load your new filter.) Voila! You now have your very own customized filter. (If things didn't work out, you can either open the same file in ResEdit and make changes or start from scratch with a fresh duplicate of your filter.)
Next week we'll get back into the Filter Factory and look at some more complex functions for creating filter effects.
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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, Digital Media Designer, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Plug-in Central, Presentation Master, ProAudio.net and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.