Posts in Category "Photoshop"

Instant Dimentionality

Yep, I’m making up words again. That’s jetlag talking. But through the jetlag I’m going to try and show you how to create a 3d model from a photograph using some new integration we’ve done with Photoshop CS3 Extended and After Effects CS3.

A lot of what we do here at the “factory” is try and take things that would take you hours or even days to do and give you ways to do them in a matter of minutes. Sometimes that takes looking within and seeing what bits of this app could be used to help someone working in that app. The “secret sauce” in this case is something called Vanishing Point Exchange (vpe).

You might be familiar with a feature of Photoshop called Vanishing Point, which is typically used when working with still images to define the perspective of a scene or object. What vpe does is let you take the geometry data generated by Vanishing Point and make use of it in other applications. In Creative Suite 3, you can now export the vpe to After Effects where before your very eyes a 3d scene is automatically created, something that would’ve taken huge buckets of time in the past.

I’m going to be starting with a photo I just snapped here in my SF office:


Thrilling, isn’t it? No, really, we do have a very beautiful office here – it’s just that I wanted to start with something simple for this tutorial – something with good, clear corner perspective.

You need to have Photoshop CS3 Extended to export the vpe, but you can still follow along with the next step, which is to create your planes in Vanishing Point, if you’re using the Standard edition.

With the photo open in Photoshop, select Filter > Vanishing Point. You will start by defining a plane in the photo, and you want to look for the easiest one to define. In my photo, it is the wall on the right side. It’s a matter of clicking on the 4 corners, lining up each edge with the edge of the plane you’re defining, and you’re done. If your plane is red, Photoshop is telling you it can’t get a read on your plane, so try again ‘til you get it (just use the hard edges in your photo as your guide). Once you’ve got a good plane it’ll look like this:


If you look at my cursor, on the right, you can see I am dragging to the right to extend the plane just past the edge of the photo – that’s about where you want to be. You can adjust the first plane after you’ve drawn it, and do take advantage of that capability because it is imperative to get this first plane right. If you don’t the whole rest of this will be messed up.

The second most important thing is to get the second plane right. For this I’ll use the left-hand wall. Create a new plane by holding down Cmd (Mac) / Ctrl (Win) on the left-hand control point on the original plane, and drag a new plane to the left (if your second plane is in a different direction than adjust that instruction accordingly). It is important to add your additional planes in this matter, as the planes need to be connected in order for this to work.


If the plane doesn’t line up right, you’ll need to rotate it. Hover your curser over the same control point you were just using, and hold down Opt (Mac) / Alt (Win) – your curser turns into a little bendy arrow. Use it to adjust the angle of your second plane – a task you can also accomplish in the “Angle” widget at the top of the Vanishing Point UI.


Continue adding and adjusting planes, repeating those steps, until you’ve got your planes all defined. If I weren’t in such a hurry to write this, I would’ve also refined this by adding planes to those brown columns on the left-hand wall, which would add more realism, but you can go ahead and do that on your own time 😉

Here’s what I wound up with:


Now it’s time for that “secret sauce”. Go up to your fly-out menu (that little triangle-in-a-circle that you see in all Adobe apps) and select Export for After Effects CS3 (.vpe)


Create a new folder somewhere on your hard drive, because Photoshop is going to spit out a bunch of .png image files (one for each plane you drew) and a .vpe which holds all the geometry data. Go ahead and save. Then close out of Vanishing Point and save your PSD, you’re done there.

Now, switch over to After Effects CS3 and select File > Import > Vanishing Point (.vpe)


You’ll see a bunch of new stuff in your Project Panel, including a new Composition. Double-click the Composition and you’ll see that AE has built for you a 3D scene based on the vpe. It has arranged all the exported planes (each of them an individual layer in the .png format) in 3d space.


Select your Orbit Camera tool (letter “C” on your keyboard) and rotate your scene to see the 3d glory. I did a quick animation on my camera and got this:

You can also see that there was a bunch of white space where my Vanishing Point planes extended past the edge of my photo. That’s fixed easily by selecting the layer in the AE Project Panel, then selecting Edit > Edit Original which opens that layer in Photoshop.


Then it’s generally time to use the Clone Tool, Healing Brush, or whatever tool suits the need. In my case I used the Clone Tool to “fill in the blanks” (here it is “in progress”).


Here it is, cleaned up a bit (not 100% yet, but with 5 min. in Photoshop I was able to get it 95% of the way there – in 15 more minutes it’ll be perfect).

I want to do a users gallery of this kind of stuff, so please send me comments if you’ve done anything cool with this technique.

Auto Begone

For today’s CS3 new feature on the hit-parade (which I reckon will take me straight through June, at least, with the new stuff in the video suite Production Premium alone) we look at something we’ve done with the most widely used software tool in the world of video and film production, Adobe Photoshop.

The new Photoshop CS3 Extended lets you work with video (opening video files directly and painting on each frame i.e. rotoscoping, for example) and that includes extracting frames from video clips and achieving some pretty neat still imagery from ‘em.

Take this example, shown to me recently by my esteemed colleague Russell Brown. We’ve got some video of the Golden Gate Bridge, taken from a tripod without any panning or zooming (i.e. “locked down”).

First thing is to go to File > Import > Video Frames to Layers. Then navigate to your video file and open it. You’ll be presented with this dialog.


In this example I was able to achieve good results importing every 5 frames. For the effect you’re about to see unfold that’s all we’re gonna need.

Next, you’ll see a bunch of new layers in your newly created PSD, each containing a frame of video.


You’ll need to group them into a Smart Layer, so go to Select > All Layers and then Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object. You’ll see everything collapse into a single Smart Object in your Layers Panel.

Then, go to Layer > Smart Objects > Stack Mode > Median. The new Stack Mode feature in Photoshop CS3 Extended analyzes an image stack (such as the one that you just created) and gives a result depending on the mode you select. In this case, the Median does more-or-less a pixel averaging of the entire stack of images, and delivers an “average image”. Well, maybe that’s not the best way to put it. Here’s what I got:


I got rid of the cars. Imagine getting a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge in daylight hours without any cars. No freaking way that’s ever gonna happen. So using this new Photoshop CS3 Extended feature, along with locked-down video, I was able to get a still image that would’ve taken me eons to create if I had to paint out all those cars by hand. Now, granted, there’s some stuff still at the top of the road there, but that’ll take minutes, or an hour at the most if you’re sleep deprived like me, to paint away using the Clone Tool, Healing Brush, etc…

As I Was Saying . . .

When I last left off, before the holidays, I was strutting some of the great new stuff we’ve got for you to try out on Adobe Labs where you can visit “Tomorrow’s Adobe Today” (no, that isn’t an official company line, I just made that up, so don’t think we’ve gone all lame with slogans, OK?). Labs is a relatively new thing for Adobe – we haven’t exactly been known for public betas in the past – and it’s the way we’re getting new products in your hands when we’re still developing them so you can tell us how to make ‘em even better! We’ve already gotten tons of great feedback on Soundbooth — if you haven’t tried it yet (it’s free to download and use for the next few months so whattayouwaitingfor???) you can download it here.

After a restful holiday break (we pretty much hung the Gone Fishin’ sign on the door for the entire week) I’m geared up for what is going to be an incredible year at Adobe. It’s our 25th Anniversary, and some of the things we’ve got in the works are going to blow your mind. But before we even get there, check out this truly tasty snack on Adobe Labs.

This is not your daddy’s Photoshop

That’s right, for the first time ever you can download the not-even-released-yet-brand-spanking-new version of Photoshop, use it while we’re still developing it, and give us feedback on the new features. It’s a great opportunity for you to influence the future of Photoshop, so go forth and download!

One thing though — unlike the Soundbooth beta (which anyone can download) you need to be a registered owner of Photoshop CS2 (or any suite that contains it, such as Production Studio or Creative Suite) to use the Photoshop CS3 Public Beta. All the details are here.

By the way, if you’re one of the cool folks currently using the Soundbooth Public Beta, we put a new build up on Labs recently which includes some new functionality, so please do check it out.

So . . . after a week of laying low for the holidays, I was happy to return to the office this morning to find a box full of my latest “product.”

Clearly a guy not to be trusted . . .

Once again, I teamed up with Total Training – this time it’s a training series for the beginner/hobbyist crowd (unlike my last Total Training disc for Production Studio which we made for professional users). I’m quite proud of this one – Total Training for Adobe Premiere Elements 3. If you’re just getting into video for the first time, this disc is for you as I take you through the fundamentals of setting up your camcorder and computer, shooting footage, editing, creating effects & titles, recording narrations, creating DVDs with customized menus, exporting your movie for the web & mobile devices, and on and on . . .

Premiere Elements is based on Premiere Pro, so if you’re just starting out it’s easy to learn Elements and move up to Pro once you’ve got some skills.

Okay, enough shameless self-promotion. I’ll promote something else instead. The folks over at Future Media Concepts have put together quite a conference – the Editors’ Retreat – which will be in Miami at the end of this month. You need credits to get into this, and by credits I mean motion picture or television. This is a high-level conference for seasoned pros, and there is a crack lineup of presenters. I’ll be attending (not presenting), and if you’re a pro editor in TV or film you should consider joining us in Miami (hey, a week in Florida at the end of January can’t be all bad . . .)

Son of Ben Kurns

Quicker than I could scarf down a slice of deep dish in Chicago earlier this week, I got a comment from Steve K. on my last posting, imploring me to show how to do the Ben Kurns Effect (a.k.a. Pan & Scan, Pan & Zoom, Ken Burns Effect) in After Effects. Steve’s been the Product Manager of AE for years now, and it amazes me that he still never misses any opportunity to promote it. Besides, I love showing cool stuff in AE so I figured I’d take it a step further and show y’all how to do a 3-D Pan & Scan in AE. This has become a pretty popular technique, lots of doc-style shows and films are using it. The first film I saw that used this at length (and by “at length” I mean for the entire duration of the film) was The Kid Stays In The Picture. Almost the entire movie was photographs busted up into layers in Photoshop, then animated in 3D in After Effects.

When done correctly, this is a much more dynamic and interesting way of panning & scanning. The third-dimension adds tremendous depth (literally and figuratively) to what could be just another stab at “being like Ben Kurns.” Oh Ben, why did you step in front of that subway train all those years ago, why?

So, start off by opening your photo in Photoshop. Remember that you want your photo to be as high-res as possible, especially if you’re planning to zoom-in in great detail.

Then, you need to break apart the key elements of your photo into individual layers. In the case of my example, below, I need to separate myself, the airplane, and the background. To start off, create a selection around the foreground element (usually a person) by using the Magic Wand, Marquee, and Lasso tools (Photoshop 101 techniques).


Once you have your foreground element selected, cut & paste it into a new layer. What you’ll wind up with is the foreground by itself, and the background with a big gaping hole in it.


Next, use the Clone tool (a.k.a. the Rubber Stamp tool) to fill in the hole in the background. In my example, it was pretty easy to fill in the sky, but a bit more challenging to “recreate” the airplane since my body covers a good deal of it.


Now it’s time to repeat the first two steps — this time selecting the airplane in the same manner as before, and cutting & pasting it into its own layer.


Then, once again, use the Clone tool to fill in the blank areas in the background.


So what you’ll wind up with is a Photoshop file with each of the key elements on its own layer.


Now we’re ready to bring our Photoshop file into After Effects. Switch over to AE and select File>Import>File. Select your Photoshop file, but before clicking the Open button, make sure you have “Import As: Composition” selected in the pulldown menu in the lower-left corner of the Import File dialog. This will bring the Photoshop file into After Effects with all its layers intact. If you were to select “Import As: Footage” it would flatten the layers and then there’d be no point to doing anything in 3D.


You’ll see a new Composition in the Project Panel, along with a folder containing the individual Photoshop layers. Double-click the Comp to open it, then change the comp settings to your desired format & resolution by selecting Composition>Composition Settings.


Pull down the Preset menu and select your format (I’m using NTSC DV for this example), and at the bottom of the Composition Settings dialog enter your desired duration. 5 seconds is a good place to start (00;00;05;00).

Next, you need make your layers 3D by checking in their 3D Layer checkboxes.


Then, add a Camera to your timeline by selecting Layer>New>Camera. The Camera Settings dialog appears.


Pull down the Preset menu, and select 35mm. This will simulate a 35mm film camera lens – applying different lenses will give you much different results so after you complete this tutorial go back and experiment with the different lenses to see what’s possible.

Next, we’ll stagger our Photoshop layers in Z-space (depth). This will give them the effect of being in 3-dimensional space. Select all 3 layers on your timeline, then hit the letter P on your keyboard, which will solo the Position property. Each layer has 3 coordinate values: X (horizontal), Y (vertical), and Z (depth) – although you won’t see the values labeled as such. Adjust the Z position of layers 1 and 2 to bring them closer to the camera – in my example I moved Layer 1 (me) to -600 and Layer 2 (the airplane) to -300. Negative values bring the objects forward in Z-space, while positive values move them further away.

I’ve moved the camera to the side in the screencap below to give you a sense of how the layers look staggered in Z-space.


Now it’s time to animate the Camera to create the 3D Pan & Scan. Click on the little triangle to the left of Camera 1 in your timeline to twirl down its properties. Click on Transform, then click on the stopwatch icons for Point of Interest and Position to set an initial keyframe for these properties. Position represents the actual position of the Camera in 3D space (thus the X, Y, and Z values) and the Point of Interest is what the Camera is pointing at. We’ll animate both of these properties.


Now, scrub on the X, Y, and Z values for Position to move the Camera to its starting point. Then, scrub on the values for Point of Interest to get your Camera pointing in the direction you want. Once you’re happy with the starting position, hit the End key on your keyboard, which will bring the Current Time Indicator to the last frame of your timeline (you can also drag the CTI all the way to the right). Then, modify the Position and Point of Interest to position the Camera in its ending position.

In my example, I’m starting zoomed-out with the Camera down and to the left, and over the course of 5 seconds I’ll animate it up, to the right, and move it forward to zoom-in.


After Effects will animate the Camera between the start and end keyframes. To see your animation, select Composition>Preview>RAM Preview.

You’ll notice that the Camera starts & stops on a dime – not very natural or elegant looking. Typically a real camera will ease out of its initial position, then gently ease in to its final position. Drag across the initial keyframes for the Camera’s Point of Interest and Position, then right-mouse-click and select Keyframe Assistant>Easy Ease Out (you can also select this via the Aniimation menu).


Repeat for the ending keyframes, but this time select Easy Ease In. RAM Preview again to see the difference.

OK, now we’ve got a nice, interesting, 3-dimensional pan & scan, but as Steve K mentioned in his comment, you have way more control of your animation in AE than you do in Premiere Pro. The Graph Editor (which we introduced in AE7) gives you an incredible variety of ways to tweek your keyframes – open it by clicking on the Graph Editor button on your timeline.


You can click directly on the keyframes in the Graph Editor to modify how the Camera animates – try pulling on the Bezier handles to change the curve of the Position and see how you can get a different feel by adjusting how the Camera moves out of its initial position and into its final position.


This whole technique I’ve just taught you is used pretty heavily in motion design these days, not just for panning & scanning photos – you see it all the time in TV commercials & promos. You can take it a step further by adding lights (Layer>New>Light) and adjusting the Camera’s depth-of-field, enabling shadows, etc. Hitting the letter “A” key twice on a 3D layer in the timeline reveals its Material Options where you can make these kinds of adjustments.

Well, that’s an intro to panning & scanning in 3-D using After Effects and Photoshop. Of course, you can also do this in 2-D without breaking the layers apart, and then it’s more-or-less the same as doing it in Premiere Pro (although AE does give you much more control with the Graph Editor).

Now I’m gonna go get me a slice of deep dish. Oh, wait, I flew back home to SF yesterday. Don’t know where I am anymore . . .

Lights, Camera, . . .

If you use Adobe Photoshop CS2 then you already know about “Actions.” With this feature, you can record a series of commands and then play them back whenever you wish (a major timesaver if you need to perform the same processes on a set of images). We even provide a set of preset Actions for typical tasks in various workflows.

What most Photoshop users don’t know is that we include a set of preset Actions for Video & Film Workflows in Photoshop CS2. That’s because they’re hidden well within the Actions Palette Fly-Out Menu (the little triangle-within-a-circle at the upper-right corner of the Actions Palette).


As you can see above, by going down to the very last item in the Fly-Out Menu, you can load the preset Video Actions. This gives you access to a number of time-savers for video/film workflows, such as “Broadcast Safe”, which filters your artwork to make sure it’s within broadcast-legal luma & chroma, and “Alpha Channel from Visible Layers” which automatically creates alpha channels (transparency information). If you’ve ever had to do either of these tasks manually, you know how tedious they can be — this will definitely help you get the job done much faster (and maybe get home at a reasonable hour now & then?).