Properties Panel

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The properties panels of the nodes is where the 'complexity' of Nuke lives.

Channels and color

The interface of the properties panel is, of course, particular to each node. However, there are some common elements, particularly in the way that they manage channel and color information:

channels

This determines which channels are 'operated on' by the node. Beware: the default is 'all' channels. If care isn't taken, you could find yourself performing a color adjustment on the alpha channel of an image, as well as its RGB. These channels may selectively be switched off in the 'channels selector' parameters (below).

The 'channels' parameters of a node.

The color picker interface

Anything marked 'value' or 'color' will feature the color picker interface. For the most part its components are self exploratory but they still present some quirks that can confuse the new user:

The 'color picker'.
A The Parameter Value
The default is usually a single value which is either zero or one. Moving the slider will, in color terms, slide between black through grey to white.
B The value slider
look carefully at the number values on the slider and you will see that they do not progress is a linear fashion. Interesting? For some. To set any slider back to its default 'Command click' on it.
C The color picker
Press this icon and you can grab a color from whatever is in your viewer. It has some key-stroke niceties:
  • Command click in the Viewer window to sample a pixel point within it.
  • Command + Option will sample the color from the image before the current operation. If you don’t do this it will sample live from the viewer window ‘post adjustment'.
  • Shift combined with any combination of these key strokes will draw a marquee round a sample area. This should be your default for sampling as point samples are notoriously unreliable.

Beware: when you have finished with the color picker press it again to disengage it or it will continue to sample.

D Color Sliders
This gives you the color sliders window from which you can pick your color value. These are detailed in the Color Sliders section.
E Single value / multiple value toggle
This converts the single value slider to four: RGB and A. If, using the color picker or color sliders, you set an active hue as your value then this will automatically be replaced by a four values readout: R, G, B and Alpha. To change a value place your cursor before the digit you wish to alter and Option drag left or right. This creates a virtual slider which will slides your values up and down. If you prefer real (not virtual) sliders then go the color sliders window via button D. You can also select a numeral and press the up and down arrows to adjust it.
The Single value / multiple value toggle.
F Animation Menu
See #Animation menu

The color picker interface

Since version 8 of Nuke, pressing the little 'color picker' icon will summon the color wheel color picker:

The 'color wheel' color picker.

This is effective, and simple enough for you to learn just by playing with it. However, there is a more powerful color picker available if you 'Command' click on the icon: the floating 'slider style' color picker. This is an old style color picker, that was superseded by the color wheel. From a UI point of view its interface is a bit of a dog’s dinner, however it is also surprising powerful as it offers many ways to edit a single color adjustment, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other.

The 'slider style' color picker.

For the most part, its use is self explanatory. The color slider value parameters extend way above the visible range (though they don’t go as far as eleven). Pressing the parameter button marked ‘Dyn’ will make the values in the color sliders dynamically change according to their value (tip: this isn't as useful as it might first seem). The HSV and RGB sliders are familiar enough to most people, but what do the TMI sliders do? Weeeeelllll: TMI stands for 'Temperature', 'Magenta' and 'Intensity'.

  • T: decreases the R whilst increasing the B or via versa. This is useful for removing color cast from an image.
  • M: decreases the R and G up whilst increasing the G or visa versa.
  • I: simply increase or decreases the intensity (brightness) of the color.

This way of adjusting color is very much favoured by photographers.

It is possible to move from one color sliding set to another (e.g. TMI to set the 'warmth' then HSL to set the 'saturation'). You will quickly feel very restricted when you are obliged to return to Photoshop’s ‘vanilla style’ color picker.

The color swatches set is a useful place to store any colors that you use. All color swatches in any part of Nuke's interface can be dragged and dropped onto practically anything else resembling a color swatch, even the interface controls at the top of each node.

mask

The 'mask' parameter controls govern how the Nodes operation is masked. If anything is fed into the side of the Node (see below) then it will automatically be recognized as a mask.

A Blur node being masked by a Roto node.

Once connected, the properties of a mask can be edited through its parameters:

The 'mask' parameters.
  • mask channel input: The node will assume that the mask channel is in the alpha channel of the mask feed. If none is apparent then it will display a red warning sign in the Viewer window. It can be directed to look in another channel for the mask values, through the mask channel input drop down menu located in the parameters.
  • inject: will replace any existing alpha with the channel that is being used as the mask. In order for this to work the mask a parameters will have to be set in the 'combine tool set' of the Viewer window. Not wildly useful.
  • invert: inverts the mask. Wildly useful.
  • fringe: blurs the edge of the mask.

mix

The 'mix' parameter will fade out the effect of the node. Should the effect of a node require animation, it is sometimes easier to animate this value than the parameters of the value itself.

In the case of the Merge node this parameter has the effect of fading out the 'B' feed.

The 'mix' parameter.

Properties: top bar

The top bar of the interface panel contains some things which are very useful:

The properties panel top bar.
  • A: Collapses the window.
  • B: Centre the node in the node graph. Useful if you have lost the node.
  • C: Select the next node up stream.
  • D: Save current settings as preset. Very useful if you are always using the same settings in this node.
  • E: Edit color of node. Useful for cosmetic purposes and script organisation.
  • F: Undo the last changes made to this particular node. Very useful.
  • G: Reverts the node to the last saved state.
  • H: Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. Hovering over this provides a brief snippet of help. Pressing it takes you to the inline help system... very useful indeed.
  • I: Floats or Docks the panel to the properties bin.
  • J: Closes panel.

(un)premult by

See: Premultiplication#Premult and Unpremult and other tools

Properties: other

Some other things to know about the parameters interface:

Follow the order

The editable values with each node are called 'parameters'. It is the habit of Nuke to present these in the properties panel in the order in which they are to be used. This can be helpful to know when you are trying out a particular node for time first time, especially the more complex nodes.

Tabs

Most nodes have only two tabs. The 'node' tab mostly governs cosmetic issues such as: any extra 'notation' text that appears in the node, the color of the node, whether is displays a little preview 'postage stamp' etc.

The 'node' tab.

Viewer window controls: 'sidebar' style

Many nodes have controls that not only display in the properties panel of that node but also as 'sidebars' of the Viewer window. Examples of such nodes are: Roto, RotoPaint, Ultimatte.

The sidebar of a Roto node.

Viewer window controls: 'overlay' style

Many nodes have controls that not only display in the properties panel of that node but also as 'overlays' of the Viewer window. Examples of such nodes are: Roto, RotoPaint, Rectangle, Radial.

This overlay can be turned off in the Viewer window by activating the keystroke: 'Q'. Once it is invisible it cant be edited. This can confuse.

Also: the overlay disappears when the user migrates to a second tab of the node. Conversely, overlays are only visible if the user migrates specifically to them. An example of this is the to and from on screen overlays points of the CornerPin node. This also can confuse.

The 'overlay' of a Transform node.

Fade

Many nodes have a 'fade' parameter, especially layer nodes. by sliding this value from 1 (the default) to 0 the effects of the node can be negated completely. It is a useful way to turn parameters on and off, but please don't use them to edit the complete effect of the node (e.g. Multiply by 0.3 then 'fade' to reduce its effect). This way of using the fade parameter can make parameters difficult to comprehend and thereby causing confusion when you (or your compositing prof) is reviewing the script.

Contextual menu

All properties panels have a contextual menu. The really important value in this menu is 'Set knobs to default'. This re-sets the Properties of the node.