How do I enable the PNG layers so I can see them?

Kickstart Video Brands Online Forums Help Desk FotoForm How do I enable the PNG layers so I can see them?

This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  David Hawkins 1 year, 3 months ago.

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  • #12475

    JohnD
    Participant

    Howdy, David!

    I just bought your FotoForm, and wow…. it is complicated! I was hoping for something easier, but I persevered, and I want to get it all to work. I have read all the help boxes, and tried to follow the process from start to finish. Is there a users manual or a step-by-step tutorial with more detail than the help boxes?

    My problem:

    After 05_Perspective, I can no longer see the multiple PNG layers. And when I get to step 10 and render it, I only see a warping background layer. How do I “enable” the PNG layers so I can see them, and so they are included in the final render?

    Also, is it necessary to adjust the white tesselation boxes for every layer, or is that an advanced option? I have a very basic photo with 4 layers, all facing directly at the camera. There are no tricky angles or shapes; just flat layers like a cartoon.

    Thanks for your time!

    John D.

    #12476

    David Hawkins
    Keymaster

    Hi John!

    I’m going to try and make some more comprehensive training materials for version 2 as I know you’re not the only one who finds it complicated. [Although I think as you touch on, it’s the tesselation which causes much of the complication – we’ll get onto that shortly.] Before I get onto your questions, I’ll recommend what I said to another user – have you tried one of the finished projects in the community forum? I know from personal experience, I find it easier to learn when I can reverse-engineer finished work hands-on rather than through passively watching video. But, totally noted on additional training needed. If you have any other questions at any point please list them here and we can get a good resource going.

    Ok, to answer your questions:

    1. How to enable PNG layers

    Answer:
    Click the numbered square icon in the toolbar which corresponds with your Photoshop artwork. [I.e. Layer 01 in PS can be enabled by clicking icon 1 in the FotoForm toolbar.] Then enable the default single t-map with the “01_ ON/OFF” control.

    If you can’t see “Tesselation Disabled” in the top-right and instead see something like “Tessellation Comp ##” then there’s another problem. I suspect the issue is with the saved layer from PS. Unless the layer has the exact same name/format and save location as the original, it won’t be pulled-in through FotoForm, so please make sure you keep the settings the same. The formatted images are pulled into FF in several ways so it’s important not to do a custom import!

    Hopefully that helps – if not, give me a little more info and I’ll help you out.

    Explanation:
    The PNG layers are already in place, it’s just whether there are any t-maps there to catch the projection. If you imagine a projector in a hall. The actual PNG would be sat on the glass in the aisle with the audience, but we still need a surface to catch that projection on-stage – usually a white pull-down projector screen or something which the presenter uses. In FF we use t-maps as a projector screen – the default t-map is basically catching a flat image, whereas multiple maps are catching the light at different distances from the camera.

    2. Tessellation – optional?

    Yes, this is an advanced feature and optional! This is actually where the product can get complicated [and resource intensive] as there are up to 81 possible t-map combinations. You can see a multiple t-map example in the tessellation quick help with the image of the mountains. This is more advanced, as well as the rubix cube [image 2] which can also be seen.

    The quickest way through the tessellation stage is to enable [ON/OFF in effect controls] default single t-maps for each layer of your photo and have the map catch 100% of the shot [seen in the first rubix cube image – like a basic 2D projector screen]. The excess white is removed automatically a little later.

    Doing it this way speeds up the render and gets you a result faster, too – definitely better early on. You can concentrate less on 3D and more on effects later on. [I.e. Depth of field, lighting, or perhaps 3D offsetting.]

    Perhaps I need to make it clearer that tessellation is optional?

    One question if I may, John:

    What is the one specific thing in FotoForm you find most difficult? This would be a big help!

    Best,
    Dave

    P.S.
    Final note. 3D is one of the harder aspects of FF, but Adobe are hard at work improving it in terms of integration, speed and quality. This boils down to passing 3D over to the C4D Standard renderer rather than AE’s ray traced renderer. So in that area at least, FF can only improve in upcoming versions!

    #55854

    JohnD
    Participant

    Greetings, David!

    Thank you for your detailed instructions. I will attempt to download one of the community projects to gain some “reverse-engineer” insights. I am not an expert at AE, but I am familiar with linking files, exporting layers, etc., and determined to follow your instructions very carefully.

    Thank you for the answers. Here are some specifics that may help.

    First, the photoshop import. I cut out layers and filled in areas in Photoshop. Then I used your original PSD and pasted in my layers, merging each of my transparent-enabled layers with your blue-square images, retaining the filenames exactly as they were in your original PSD. NOTE: I did not delete any layers. I kept the blue-square layers for this first test project. Then I exported the layers from PS as instructed, directly into the same folder as the PSD. (FotoForm Framework\USER folder.)

    Back in AE, in STEP 04, I can see all the correct layers in my photo. Here is a screen shot (including the layer filenames) FYI, it is a girl and woman sitting at a tree with grass in the foreground and background.
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-QY59IAVSM-8/WJA1hP-QEhI/AAAAAAAAEUk/j7BAUqmNwbkv2oxwDo8YNizMEYWrUkgQACL0B/h335/2017-01-30.png

    Step 05 shows me only a single image (the far BG layer), and a grid on top. I adjust the grid, but no other layers appear.

    Step 06. I have repeated this several times. I click the layers that contain my photo images, one at a time, and checkmark the 01_ON/OFF control. Each time I checkmark the box, I can see that single layer, by itself. Each one DOES have the text “Tessellation Comp ##” in the upper right. Here is a screen shot:

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-B1ivhK7FjaU/WJA1CwKIlsI/AAAAAAAAEUg/QYIZBJOlez0-rFTChKr0yhqTPRzqBFbnACL0B/h636/2017-01-30.png

    Step 07_Camera: I see a blue screen that reads “No Camera Selected”. When I enable Camera_PRESET_01, I see video frames in the timeline, using only my BG layer, slightly distorting it as I scrub through the video.

    I believe the mistake has been made before Step 7. Where am I going wrong?

    Also, I didn’t see any clear instructions on how to export the video. Did I miss seeing that? Is there a PDF guide on this program?

    Specific difficulty in FotoForm: The thing that is most overwhelming is how many buttons and controls are in your file in AE. I had no idea this was so complicated, and if I had not had 20 years of experience with Adobe products, I probably would have given up after the first failed test run. It may benefit your buying audience (and hurt your sales) if you explain that some AE experience is helpful, or even necessary.

    Specific suggestion for improvement: I realize there is very little you can do about the above problem, but as a product marketer, I think this would be the most benefit to your clients’ success, and your continued $$$ income. I think you’ve already heard this from others on the forum, but I highly suggest a video tutorial. Explain each step verbally, and note areas where people have gotten stuck on. I am sure you’ve seen some professional tutorials on youtube or adobe.tv or lynda.com. (and FYI, if you need voiceover, my wife’s services are at http://www.VoiceOfKatie.com )

    Thanks, David. I look forward to your continued instruction.

    Oh, one more question. Trying to process AE with a 4K photo is reeeeeally slowing down my machine. and I don’t really have any 4K photos anyway. Once we solve my above problem with the missing layers, is it possible to lower the resolution of your PSD and AE project so I can process regular home photos faster?

    #55858

    David Hawkins
    Keymaster

    Thanks for your constructive feedback, John!

    — “Step 05 shows me only a single image (the far BG layer), and a grid on top. I adjust the grid, but no other layers appear.”

    This is as it should be. What you’re seeing is that specific distance from the camera. Enable layer one with the default t-comp and you’re seeing the projection of you Photoshop layer one being ‘caught’ in z space by the white box. If you enable layer 2 the view is automatically moved to further from the camera as seen in the vertical UI to the left. You can see the default white box catch the second Photoshop layer.

    This may sound overkill but the reason is simple – it allows layers to occlude each other appropriately. Layer 1 should occlude layer 2, etc. If all layers were on top of each other – same distance from camera – the animation wouldn’t work.

    — On getting selected layers to appear [TLDR: enable layers in ‘Offset’ stage]

    I think I see where you’re struggling – I believe it’s at the offset stage. [See suggestion text box: “FotoForm T-Comps are disabled by default. See Quick Start for enabling.” Also, step 2 in the help overlay for offset reads, “Enable T-Comps separately and position”.]

    In the effect controls, each layer of your photo has a control for ‘ON/OFF_## [FASTER EDITS]’. Enable this and you’ll see your foreground layer.

    Now, I understand that it’s not intuitive to enable for FG layers in step 8 in order to see them in step 7, but this was the lesser of two evils as the camera fundamentally needs to be enabled before it’s possible to arrange offset. If there was only one camera I could have removed that stage, left it on by default and had offset at stage 7, btu there you go. If you have an idea for better implementation I’d love to hear it!

    I also understand these wouldn’t ideally have to be actively enabled, but here are two reasons:

    1. Not all layers are needed for every FotoForm – only enable what you need.
    2. Having the foreground layers of a FotoForm enabled can slow things up, so I wanted to keep it as fast as possible for users until they need to increase the processing. This is why I labelled the effect control ‘[FASTER EDITS]’.

    As I say, these wouldn’t ideally have to be enabled. If you have better implementation ideas let me know for the next version.

    — Clear instructions for rendering

    Here’s some documentation:
    1. https://helpx.adobe.com/after-effects/using/basics-rendering-exporting.html
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pivpAKI-cRc

    Adobe recommends rendering out of AE in a non-lossy format – i.e. Animation format, or pro res 422 if using Mac. [Takes a long time but probably the file you want to back up – especially if it’s client work.] Then render that file in web-ready H.264 out of Media Encoder.

    — Overwhelming is how many buttons and controls are in your file

    Ah, noted! This was a challenge during development. Most buttons are disabled during any single stage to lessen overwhelm [or that was the intent]. I was deciding between whether to give users a complete overview of the whole process, or whether to show only the needed buttons for that stage. I went this route because it complimented the AE aesthetic, but perhaps that was the wrong decision. Duly noted and thank you.

    — Voiceover talent

    Your wife is very talented! I loved the character demo, haha! But yes, the commercial example definitely melds with some promo video ideas I have. I’ve bookmarked the site, thank you.

    — 4K Photos are slow

    Yes, I’m aware 4K can be a little slow, but the slowness is more to do with the AE architecture than the resolution, I’m afraid. The AE community are waiting patiently for updates. Here’s something I wrote a shortwhile back:

    ——

    Even with a modern multi-core processor, not everything in AE is rendered alike. Some expressions, for example, still render only through single core processing! This is a software problem which affects even the most powerful hardware. The AE team are currently working hard to modernise the entire AE framework, but this takes time. Here’s a comment from the After Effects spokesman Michael Szalapski on the Creative Cow forum:

    “As Dave says, there are a lot of things that break multiprocessing. Even some expressions can drag you down to single core processing!”

    This is a big part of the reason why the AE team is working on a rewrite of the core of AE. They’re getting rid of that old and busted multiprocessing and replacing it with something more modern.”

    https://forums.creativecow.net/thread/2/1063916

    ——

    2017 takes us a step forward with an updated version of Cineware from C4D, but progress is still being made.

    Here’s a more recent thread regarding 2017:

    https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2230330

    So, as annoying as it is, After Effects is still the best program to create FotoForm in – at least in a relatively user-friendly way. There’s just nothing else like it. I had considered a 1080p version but realised performance wouldn’y vary much between a 1080p and 4k photo.

    #58630

    michael_johnson
    Participant

    I’m trying to use the finished project New York. The text file file says “simply import the layers into After Effects”. This isn’t as simple for me as it is for an accomplished user of AE like yourself. How to import? Don’t you have to import into FotoForm? How do you import the layers into the correct FotoForm layers? I can’t use these completed projects for learning until I know how to do it, then I’ll be off and running.

    #58634

    David Hawkins
    Keymaster

    Hey Michael! Thanks for purchasing.

    Now you mention it, saying ‘import’ might suggest something else needs to be done to access the images in FotoForm, but it’s actually just a case of planting the images into the necessary folder that FotoForm has already been setup to import placeholder images from. So if I understand you correctly (I just re-downloaded the New york template to familiarise myself again), you can replace the “FotoForm Framework > USER” folder from the paid version of FotoForm you download, with the NY ‘USER’ folder you downloaded through the forum. By doing this, the .aep (After Effects Project) will still import those images from the USER folder providing they are saved with the same name.

    WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE?
    There is actually no importing needed from the user standpoint – apologies for the confusion and I can see how you’d think that. All that’s happening is FotoForm is setup to import saved images from a specific folder relative to the root folder of FotoForm.

    RECOMMENDATION
    If this is your first project, I’d recommend downloading the Mountain example first as it’s simpler and I provided a C3D (Classic 3D renderer which is faster in AE) formatted version to go along with the video tutorial —

    DOWNLOAD LINK [NOW INCLUDES C3D VERSION]:
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0YEGMypE88HYVE5bXp6MzlNYlU

    Hopefully that helps and have a good weekend. 🙂

    Kind regards,
    Dave

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