NOVEMBER 06, 2003
Pixel Post Studios Tools for Television Pro
Automation utility package for Adobe Photoshop
by David Nagel
Page 3 of 3

Capturing a frame is a simple matter of hitting a key command, and captured frames can be brought into Photoshop as raw footage with no square pixel conversion or as prepared files with square pixel conversion and a title safety overlay.

So those are the software's main features. But it also has some extra functionality you might find useful. For example, using the Save Production function, you can output your image to the file type of your choice (Targa, TIFF, Layered TIFF), which will also automatically convert the file to the proper dimensions for the format you've chosen.

You can also prepare your files after they've been opened, adding title/action safety grids to graphics (layered or flat) or preparing video stills by converting them to the proper pixel format and adding a title/action safety grid to the image.

Other features include:

  • One-click access to Photoshop's video filters, including NTSC Colors, Deinterlace Odd, Deinterlace Even and Blur, as well as a special function for adding a letterbox to the image;
  • Preference settings for standard and inverse alphas;
  • Hot keys for each individual function.


Limitations
There are some limitations to Tools for Television Pro in its current incarnation. I've mentioned that it does not yet support Photoshop CS, though a patch for this should be forthcoming. The other limitations are both related to my favorite feature, Title Builder, though both are somewhat minor. The first is that I encountered erratic behavior in the title generation process unless the text layers in the Photoshop file were stacked in the same order in which they appear in the application's spreadsheet. For example, in the document I used in the example above, I had the Name, Title and Organization fields stacked bottom to top, rather than top to bottom, and I couldn't get the application to generate the output files properly. However, rearranging them top to bottom resulted in error-free automation to all of the supported output formats.

The other issue is that when I returned back to Photoshop from Title Builder, all of the changes from the building process were still in my original document. However, a quick Revert command brought my document back to its proper state.

Aside from these relatively minor annoyances, I encountered no other problems when working with this software. Again, expect an update for Photoshop CS compatibility by the end of the month.

The bottom line
If you use Photoshop in any aspect of your video production, I don't see how you couldn't benefit from Tools for Television Pro. It is simply a dramatic timesaver, one that functions as it's supposed to in order to alleviate the problems of repetitive tasks specific for graphics professionals who work in video. Its two centerpiece features alone --Title Builder and Frame Grabber--are worth the recommendation I'm giving it: Strong Buy. And, if you're still not sure, at least download the trial version and find out for yourself whether it's worth it.

Tools for Television Pro is available now for Mac OS X and Windows for $179 normally, though it's currently on sale for $149. As of this writing, it supports Adobe Photoshop 7.0.x, and a free update for Photoshop CS should be out this month. For more information, visit http://www.toolsfortelevision.com.


Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Apple DVD Studio Pro, Mac OS, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at dnagel@digitalmedianet.com.


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