This week I'm going to show you a little trick I stumbled upon during one of my many experimentations with Synthetik Studio Artist, an absolute must-have program for any Mac pro working in the visual arts. Lest you've missed them in the past, we have one review, one QuickTime example and one other tutorial on the program. The program works with single-frame images and moving images as a rotoscoper and can produce some astounding results.
What I'm going to show you today is a little tweak on one of the program's presets to create a QuickTime movie that uses a liquid drip effect to transition to another image. It's something that can work as a stand-alone effect or brought into Adobe After Effects for luma keying. So here, in 58 seconds, is the technique.
1. Create an image that contains the colors you want to see in your drip. I just made a rough image containing a few dark reds, orange and black.
2. Launch Studio Artist and select this color image as your Source File. Now go to the File menu and select "Import Image to Canvas." Choose the image you want to transition to.
3. In the Canvas menu, select "Layer Window...." A new layer palette will pop up containing one layer. Name it whatever you want. I'll call mine "Woman." Now click the "New" button in the palette, and name that layer whatever you want. I'll call mine "White." Make sure you choose "Soft Black Overlay" in the pull-down menu that appears next to your new layer. In the top pull-down menu in the Layers palette, select "All Layers." This will show you a representation of how the layers look together at each stage of your work. At this point, you'll still just see white.
4. Now, in the tools area on the left of the interface, you should be in Presets mode. Find the pull-down menu that currently has "General" selected. Go down the list and change General to "Liquids Spattering." I'm using the first brush shown, called "Liquid Dirty Color 1."
5. Now go to the tools section on the left of the interface and switch from Presets to Timeline Animation. Set the number of frames per second you want, and switch back to Presets mode.
6. You might want to mess around by clicking your mouse on the image to get an idea of how this effect works. When you're ready to commit to a QuickTime movie, go to the Movie menu and select "Start Movie to File" and save the movie as whatever name you want. (It won't start recording until your first mouseclick in the Canvas area.) Select the Movie menu again, go to the submenu "Write Frame Flags" and choose both "Write Frame Each Action" and "Write Frame Each Subaction." This tells the program to record your mouse clicks in the Canvas area.
7. Now you're ready to rock! Just make the drips on your canvas to reveal the image underneath. The more you saturate the top layer, the more is revealed in the bottom layer. When you're done, go back to the Movie menu and select "Stop Movie to File."
If you want to experiment, try adding another layer, also a Soft Black Overlay. When you drip on the top layer, it will create just a drip effect. Drip on the next layer down to reveal the final image. To add a little time between drips, click in the gray area next to the image a few times. Nothing will happen to your image, but the action will be recorded.
Also, as I said at the beginning, you can bring your drip effect into After Effects. In this case, your bottom layer should be black (no image). Your top layer should be white. You just record your drip effect to reveal the black underneath. Then, in After Effects, bring in your QuickTime and put it on top of the video track you want to reveal. Add a luma key to the drip layer, and adjust the tolerance and feathering for the effect you want. Then watch the fun.
Want more information about Studio Artist? Visit Synthetik at http://www.synthetik.com or our Studio Artist user forum at http://www.wwug.com/forums/studio-artist/index.htm.
Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of BE Radio, Creative Mac, DCC Designer, DCC Workstation, Digital DTP, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Hollywood Industry, ProAudio.net and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.
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