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A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???

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Michael McCune
A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 12, 2017 at 11:51:40 pm

We know that Resolve can, as a product of its wonderful color filter tools, create mattes for use within Resolve itself. But while an alpha channel of these mattes are presented as options to the node tree and in the Delivery page codec list, they are not, apparently, actually viable or usable in other external applications, such as Fusion.

Rather, they are only viable when re-imported into Resolve for use as an External Matte for a node or to be put on an Edit page timeline for compositions within Resolve, if I understand things correctly.

For example, they can be exported after adding an alpha output node to the node tree. These can then be used by Resolve as part of an External Matte node.

And the Edit page provides ways to add tracks for clips with alpha channels to be used for composites and for blending operations.

BUT, as I understand it, there is no method to export mattes for use by other external applications.

See Dmitry Kitsov BMD, Fri Oct 09, 2015: "While alpha channels can be imported into DaVinci Resolve, and can be used to composite layers in a timeline, alpha channels cannot be exported along with clips." From https://forum.blackmagicdesign.com/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=40611.

Dmitry suggests a work-around: creating B&W masks then exporting that image, which is then manipulated within the external program to create an bona fide alpha channel via their luma matte function.

I must be missing something. A better way???

Have tried the various flavors of Delivery page alpha output options, that is, TIFF, DPX, Uncompressed ARGB: no joy.

Inspecting these files, they do seem successfully to create an alpha channel (as reported by MediaInfo), that is, 32 bits for four channels. But no joy in this channel created by Resolve being recognized in Fusion.

Fusion Connect directly links Resolve and Fusion but, again, there seems to be no matte hand-off, if I understand it properly. That is, I believe Fusion will see the Resolve clip, do its thing, and return the changes to Resolve. But it is a rendered hand-off in both directions, right? That is, no separate alpha channel is carried along with the rendered hand-off, right?

Must be missing something.

I spent many, many hours trying to get any of the several Delivery page matte export options to be seen in Fusion.

But then driven to desperation trawled online posts again, now to find this post by Dmitry at BMD: can't get there from here.

Any helpful thoughts???

Thanks, guys. Mike


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Glenn Sakatch
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 13, 2017 at 3:06:34 pm

have you tried loading the rgba file into fusion and adding a channel switcher?

If there is alpha embedded in the resolve output it should work.

Glenn


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Dmitry Kitsov
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 13, 2017 at 5:24:48 pm

Hello, Mike. My post that you have referenced, was true prior to Resolve, with version 12.5 release, being able to embed alpha channel to some of the output format/codecs combination. It is still true and the grey scale matte image is still a valid method that can still be used be used.

Dmitry Kitsov,
Blackmagic Design technical support agent


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Michael McCune
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 15, 2017 at 12:31:35 am

Thanks, Dmitry; ... did not quite understand: are you saying simply that:

1) version 12.5 was the first to include alpha channels in some Delivery tab format options??? [agreed] and,
2) that the black-and-white image export method (still) works; [agreed] and, finally, that
3) the Resolve alpha channel is indeed not recognized by other applications, e.g., Fusion)???


If so, we are on the same page in that regard!

Or, perhaps I misunderstand and you *ARE* saying that the Resolve alpha channel *IS* recognized by external apps, such as Fusion. True???

Please clarify.

Going forward:
FWIW, as you already know as a professional, Fusion matte tools such as LumaKeyer work wonderfully for the purpose of creating a matte from a natural image (i.e., not from a green or blue screen image source). I discover, among other things, that it includes its own LumaKey gamma and contrast sliders among other refinement controls.

Experts will know better than I, but it seems to offer more control than with a natural image source than the control possible when starting with a B/W Resolve output source, as much of the range and potential for Fusion key refinement is, at that point, already baked into the Resolve B/W output.

In fact, if I understand this correctly, the irony would seem to be that the greater the delineation and definition (usually desirable in a matte) that is baked into a Resolve B/W output actually and severely limit the potential for Fusion to apply its LumaKey adjustments, such as contrast and gamma adjustments.

Am I understanding this correctly?


Please clarify any misunderstandings you find here.

Thanks, Mike


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Dmitry Kitsov
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 15, 2017 at 8:27:21 am

There are no issues with alpha channel as included by Resolve that we know of.

Dmitry Kitsov,
Blackmagic Design technical support agent


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Michael McCune
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 16, 2017 at 11:11:42 pm

Thanks, Dmitry; Question: how properly to export alpha channels???

Which Deliver tab codec would you use to generate an alpha channel (RGB+alpha) for import into Fusion?

I am asking as I cannot seem to generate a 4-channel output, that is, RGBA, for Fusion.

Here are my steps: please correct any mistakes or note better ways to do this.

Base case:
1. I have a node (the last one in a very simple node tree) with a key mask feeding the output: the node tree output has both an RGB and an alpha output.
2. The key mask in the last node can be verified using the highlight mode which shows the individual node output (as opposed to the node tree output) and selecting the key tab;
3. On the Deliver page, I select a codec that should, I believe, generate a 4-channel output, such as QT Uncompressed RGBA.
4. The exported file is inspected for bit depth and the number of channels. But it shows only three channels in the output video. The output video is of the mask; in other words, it is a video version of the key mask: black surrounding the key mask area.
5. Checking the file metadata using MediaInfo, file manager properties or importing into Photoshop, all show only three channels.
5. Imported into Fusion, the video version of the key mask appears as expected; that is, a black area surrounding the key mask area. But there is no 4th or alpha channel. Selecting the Fusion button for color/alpha under the display window displays only a field of white (opaque).

Please clarify this and detail your approach to generating a 4-channel output from Resolve to be imported into Fusion.

Thanks again, Dmitry. I very much appreciate the help of your professional experience in this.
Mike


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Glenn Sakatch
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 18, 2017 at 5:44:47 pm

So i gave this a try, thinking...it can't be that hard right?

First off, i exported a series of shots, same idea ... put a power window on it, add an alpha output node and export.
Right away i'm wondering "just because the power window is there, does that create an alpha output, or do we need to do some other song and dance?"

I exported a dnxhq, dnx444, dpxrbg, tiff16bits, uncompressed argb, uncompressed bgra, and an uncompressed quicktime.

Brought each of those into fusion, turn my viewer to alpha, and each showed full screen white, no power window key.

I then brought each back into Resolve, and under clip settings, set each to have an alpha channel. The dnxhq, tiff16bits and uncompressed each came in as a keyable element, the others did not.

I then brought each into after effects. Of all those files, only the uncompressed bgra file gave me the option of assigning an alpha component, but it, nor any of the others, showed up as a keyable element.

So although it appears some files will export an alpha channel, they are only visable when brought back into Resolve. I'm sure there is a reason you might want to do this workflow....just not quite sure what it is, perhaps archiving elements for future use, but certainly not what most of us would think of as an alpha output workflow.

Glenn


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Michael McCune
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 18, 2017 at 11:06:39 pm

Glenn; thanks for the thorough double-checking of this process.

And yes, one of the purposes of this round-trip within Resolve is to create an "archive" or version that is (re)usable outside of that timeline.

But, most importantly, your tests seem to reach the same general conclusion that 3 Resolve Delivery codecs work as keyable alphas when taken back into Resolve and that no Resolve codecs work in Fusion and only one in After Effects as an alpha component and none as an AE keyable alpha.

Dmitry, BMD Support said in this thread, [Dmitry Kitsov] "There are no issues with alpha channel as included by Resolve that we know of."

But I wonder, as you do: [Glenn Sakatch] " or do we need to do some other song and dance?" For example, to get them to work in Fusion, a close relative to Resolve.

At least the proper method is not obvious. Unless Dmitry meant to say that a B/W rgb image of the Resolve key is the only "alpha" that Resolve has and that it is, indeed, in lieu of a keyable alpha.

Thanks again, Glenn; Onward and upward!
Mike


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Dmitry Kitsov
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 19, 2017 at 12:32:50 am

Following codecs were exported from Resolve 12.5.4 and opened in Fusion with alpha intact on Mac OS X:
DNxHR444.mov,
GrassValleyHQX.mov,
GrassValleyHQ.mov,
ProRes4444.mov,
ProRes4444XQ.mov,
UncompressedARGB.mov,
UncompressedBGRA.mov;

After Effects 2017 accepted with Alpha intact:
ProRes4444.mov,
ProRes4444XQ.mov,
UncompressedARGB.mov,
GrassValleyHQX.mov,
GrassValleyHQ.mov,
UncompressedBGRA.mov.

Please make sure you have appropriate codecs installed, where appropriate for the third party application support.
Please refer to the references like operation manuals for mentioned applications on the information on how to produce or import media with alpha.

Dmitry Kitsov,
Blackmagic Design technical support agent


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Michael McCune
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 19, 2017 at 10:36:02 am

Thanks for this list, Dmitry;

To get started, this list is also valid for Windows, correct??? I note that you begin your list by saying that these alpha codecs were valid for MAC OS.

Mike


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Dmitry Kitsov
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 19, 2017 at 4:51:30 pm

Not all of the codecs are available on Windows (for example you will not be able to deliver ProRes on Windows). There is also a possibility of different feature set on Windows platform, than that available on macOS, for the same codec.
A thorough testing of any intended workflow is recommended.

Dmitry Kitsov,
Blackmagic Design technical support agent


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Michael McCune
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 19, 2017 at 5:33:53 pm

Dmitry; also, as you know, on a PC only the two Quicktime uncompressed alpha codecs are available.

And on a PC, two other alpha-labeled codecs, DPX Alpha 8 bits and DPX RGBA 8 bits are not in your list.

Did your tests show that those two DPX alpha codecs also work? On a PC???

Thanks again, Dmitry


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Glenn Sakatch
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 19, 2017 at 6:36:32 pm

Yes im on windows as well.

Glenn


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Glenn Sakatch
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 20, 2017 at 4:17:40 pm

"A thorough testing of any intended workflow is recommended."

That is kind of what we are doing, and we can't get it to work.

Perhaps Dmitry could outline with a bit more detail his workflow to get these into Fusion (or AE)
As stated earlier, I tried some of the codecs that are supposed to work, and they didn't.

AFAIK, there is nothing in Fusion that is needed on the loader to say "this has alpha", it should just see it.
There is a setting to tell whether you want it premultiplied or not, but that doesn't affect the alpha channel in the viewer.

Is there something else that needs to be setup in Resolve to turn on Alpha output...more than just having an Alpha output node activated?

Glenn


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Dmitry Kitsov
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 22, 2017 at 10:48:12 pm

You should have the option to turn on the Export Alpha checkbox in the Video panel of the render settings whenever you render individual source clips starting with version 12.5. When you do so, DaVinci Resolve renders clips with alpha channels in either of two cases:
• Whenever there is an alpha channel embedded in the source media for that clip, the embedded alpha channel will be copied to the rendered version of that clip.
• Whenever a clip’s grade has a key connected to an alpha output, the alpha output will be rendered as an alpha channel for that clip.

If a specific Codec/Format does not have this ability you will not see the Export Alpha check box under the Video tab of the delivery page settings.
DPX RGBA is another format that supports it.
DPX 8 bit alpha is intended to produce a DPX with only alpha present.

Dmitry Kitsov,
Blackmagic Design technical support agent


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Michael McCune
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 23, 2017 at 7:38:47 am

Dmitry; very welcome information. Thank you.

However, cannot see the check box option in the Deliver/Video page to Export Alpha.

Test setup, as simple as possible:
New project, add single short clip, picture of a face (or whatever);
Add simple window, say, around the face (perhaps adjust saturation and gain to make the effect obvious to ourselves that the window works;
Select the Node Key tab on the color page to view the key/power window, and, again, verify to oneself that the key exists at that point;
Select the Hightlight mode (shift-H), again, just to verify to oneself that the key exists there;
Add an alpha output to the node tree and connect the node key output.

Should be ready to go to the Deliver page and Export Alpha, right? OK.

In the Deliver page, choose one of the alpha codecs (for PC), such as DPX Alpha 8-bit (alpha only, no video), DPX RGBA, Quicktime Uncompressed BGRA or Uncompressed ARGB.

Look down the Deliver page Video column for the Export Alpha option you mentioned.: Don't see it. Not for any of the above-mentioned four alpha output codecs for PC Resolve.

I do see the usual Video/Advanced option list that includes Aspect ratio, Data Levels, Data Burn-In, Use Optimized ..., use Flat Pass and three check boxes for sizing and debayer. But no Export Alpha option.

Gotta be something simple, Dmitry. What am I missing??? This isn't an Apple/PC issue is it???

Thanks again, Mike


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Glenn Sakatch
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 23, 2017 at 2:35:54 pm

the key is to select individual clips, not single file.

quick peak, there is an export alpha option under dnx444. Haven't done an extensive test yet.

Glenn


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Michael McCune
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 23, 2017 at 8:20:28 pm

Thanks, Glenn; Really appreciate your help on this. And, yes, "individual clips" is mentioned in the documentation (page 1108).

BUT--I have to say, as an old English major--the documentation actually is not clear that it is NECESSARY to select, "Individual clips," even when there is only one clip on the timeline. (This was my situation.)

Why is the documentation here unclear as written??? Because the purpose of this selection is to select how file(s) are output, either as a single file or multiple files. And if there is only one clip in the timeline, then the "Individual clips" choice is immaterial as it will always be a single file.

And there is no clue here that the alpha output option is hidden there.

But the actual necessity of this selection with regard to alpha output could easily be indicated by, for example, simply adding the the words, "... but alpha will be output ONLY if 'Individual clips' is selected, even if there is only one clip on the timeline."

Dmitry, if you are reading this, please respond if you agree and please ask your team to clarify this point in the documention.

Thanks again, Glenn and Dmitry.
Mike


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Michael McCune
Re: A direct method to export mattes to external applications, such as Fusion??? Possible???
on Feb 23, 2017 at 11:31:29 pm

Glenn and Dmitry; ... Next steps on exporting alpha from Resolve, intended for Fusion:

At this point, we think there are four codecs in Resolve that output alpha, two DPX codecs (DPX RGBA and DPX Alpha 8-bits)and two Quicktime codecs (Uncompressed BGRA and Uncompressed ARGB).

If I understand the alpha export process correctly--after Glenn's helpful tip clarifying Dmitry's statement that there is an Export Alpha option on the Deliver page if one selects Individual Clips--then the Resolve alpha exports should import into Fusion.

And then Fusion should alternately display the RGB video channels or the alpha channel by selecting the Color/Alpha button under each display window. Right?

Let's try it:
In Resolve, a single clip in a new project with a simple window, say a circle in the center of the image.
Add the alpha output to the node tree.
In the Deliver page, select a codec, say, QT Uncompressed BGRA, and select Independent Clips and Export Alpha. Export.
Open Fusion, drop the BGRA clip in the flow editor, view the display.

Seems to work! The RGB video option shows the image with the window. And the alpha option shows the B/W alpha window. OK!


We are done, right? Not yet.

Try this same node tree and the same Deliver page settings but this time with QT Uncompressed ARGB (not BGRA): Fusion now has a problem with this codec.

The Fusion display for ARGB shows an image that is cropped and stretched horizontally (my circle window is distorted horizontally) and shows a grey scale RGB image. And the Fusion alpha display shows an opaque (white) screen as the alpha.

And the two DPX alpha export files don't import into Fusion at all.

Dmitry or Glenn: am I seeing this correctly???

Thanks again, Mike


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