Applying Layer Effects

Using Effects

Each layer in a Studio presentation may have one or more post-processing effects applied to the visual result. A small library of predefined effects is included with the Windows installer. To use one of these effects:

  1. Click on the icon at the bottom of the Project palette of Studio.
  • This will open the folder for the library in Windows, showing you the available effects.
  1. Drag one of the .effect files from the Windows folder into your Project palette.
  • This makes a copy of the effect in your project folder.
  1. Drag the effect from the Project palette onto a Layer in the Timeline palette.
  • This applies an instance of the effect to the Layer.
  1. With the effect selected in the Timeline, use the Inspector palette to adjust or animated the parameters of the effect.
  • You will see the effect applied and update immediately within the Studio viewport.

You cannot cause an effect to apply to only certain models of a Layer. The entire Layer is rendered via its camera, and then the effect is applied. The placement of effects with respect to other (non-effect) children of the Layer makes no difference.

You may, however, apply more than one effect to the same Layer. Just as layers placed lower in the Timeline render before layers that are on top of them, so effects that are lower in the Timeline will be applied before the effects that are above them.

Using HDRBloomTonemap

The "HDRBloomTonemap" effect provides two features:

  1. Adjust the gamma and exposure of the high-dynamic range rendered content to achieve the image quality you want, and
  2. Apply an adjustable 'bloom' effect to very bright areas (like the sun glinting off a car).

When you add an HDRBloomTonemap effect to a layer, the following properties are available in the Inspector palette:

  • Gamma - this affects the non-linear curve of the lighting. Higher values will increase the exposure of mid tones, lightening the image (and decreasing the contrast). A value of 1.0 causes no adjustment to the image.
  • Exposure - this is a linear multiplier on the lighting, brightening or darkening the image overall. A value of 0.0 causes no adjustment to the image.
  • Bloom Threshold - lighting greater than this value will bloom. A value of 1.0 corresponds to white in the original render result. Lowering this value will cause more areas of the rendered scene to bloom; at a value of 0.0 everything in the scene will bloom.
    • Tip: to disable bloom and use only the tone mapping, set this to a sufficiently high value, like 999.
  • Bloom Falloff - adjusts the amount of bloom. Lower values result in stronger bloom effect; higher values make the effect more subtle.

Using FXAA

The "FXAA" effect applies Fast approXimate Anti-Aliasing to the layer. This is a high-speed anti-aliasing technique that removes some of the "jaggies" from the image without impacting performance as heavily as super-sampling would.

  • Pros: easy fix for many aliasing problems; works with moving images (unlike Progressive Anti-Aliasing).
  • Cons: can blur and otherwise 'munge' fine text details present in the layer; as a screen-space heuristic technique it can sometimes leave sharp edges that ideally would be anti-aliased.

Using Depth of Field

The "Depth Of Field HQ Blur" effect increasingly blurs regions of the image based on their deviation from a specified distance from the camera. (Notice that the cube and same-distance floor are in focus while the closer cone and farther sphere are blurred.)

For this effect to work well, you need to adjust the Clipping Start and Clipping End properties of the camera for the Layer to 'frame' the content. (You ideally want the largest possible value for Start and the smallest possible value for End.) After you do this you can use the properties of the effect in the Inspector palette to adjust the effect.

  • The Focus Distance property specifies the distance from the camera where the content is in perfect focus.
  • The Depth of Field property specifies a the distance around the Focus Distance where items are fully in focus. The focus then fades away to fully blurred by the same distance on both the near and far sides.

For example, a Focus Distance of 100 and a Depth of Field of 20 means that everything that is between 90 and 110 units away from the camera will be fully in focus, items at a distance of 70-90 and 110-130 units will experiencing variable blurring, and everything closer than 70 or farther than 130 will be fully blurred.

To make it easier to set up this effect, turn on the Debug Focus Rendering checkbox for the effect:

When enabled the scene will switch to a mode showing the amount of blur to be applied. Anything completely fogged in white will be fully blurred, anything that is fully black will be fully in focus, and shades of grey represent varying amounts of blur in between. You will find it far easier to turn on this mode and just scrub the values in the Inspector palette until the content you want is bracketed, compared to performing distance calculations and entering numbers.

Using Tilt Shift

The "Tilt Shift" effect simulates depth of field in a much simpler (and more performant) manner. Instead of blurring based on the depth buffer, it simply blurs everything except for horizontal stripe on the layer. The effect is controlled by the properties:

  • Focus Position - the vertical placement of the center of effect (the 'focused region') on the screen, from top to bottom.
  • Focus Width - the vertical size of the in-focus region.
  • Blur Amount - how much the not-in-focus regions are blurred.

As with the Depth of Field effect, this effect has a Debug Rendering option that you can enable to see where the blur will be applied to the Layer. (See above for further description.)

Using Gaussian Blur

The "Gaussian Blur" effect is one of the simplest to use and understand. Drop it on a Layer and adjust the Blurriness property in the Inspector palette. In order to keep the effect performant large blur values will produce a mosaic result instead of smooth blurriness. Play with the slider for the value to find the best visual result for your needs.

Using Motion Blur

The "Motion Blur" effect takes the image from the previous frame, blurs it, fades it by a specified amount, and draws this in the transparent areas of the layer. The end result is that items moving over a transparent background will leave a ghost behind them.

The caveats for this effect are implicit in the above description:

  • The contents are slightly blurred, which (as shown in the image above) can cause static (and even slowly-moving) items to have a halo around them.
  • Only the transparent regions are drawn to. If a moving object passes in front of another object on the same layer, there will be no motion trail passing over the object.

In the simple image shown above the blue ring is placed on a second Layer underneath the Layer with the motion blur effect applied. This both allows the 'needle' to leave a blur trail over top of the ring, and also prevents the ring from having a blurry blue halo around it.

Available under certain Qt licenses.
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