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CL2 Overview

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Conduit Live 2 is a standalone application included in the Conduit Suite.

Conduit Live 2 has the same core features and user interface as the Conduit plugins. Effects created in the standalone application can be painlessly transferred to Conduit for Final Cut Studio or After Effects, or the other way around. Like the other Conduit products, Conduit Live uses pervasive floating point rendering which ensures high dynamic range and color precision.

In addition to the baseline Conduit feature set, Conduit Live 2 offers a number of additional features that make it useful for applications such as video capture, live performance, and dynamic generative video installations. Some highlights:

  • Direct-to-disk video recording
  • Minimum-latency multithreaded rendering
  • Support for professional video and image sequence file formats
  • Keyframe animation
  • Application-wide scripting

Conduit Live 2 has a timeline mode and can export to a number of video and image formats, so it's also possible to use it as a standalone compositing application.

Contents

User interface

Project window

The Project window is the centerpiece of Conduit Live 2. It shows an editable overview of all the components that contribute to your project’s visual output. These can be on-disk video sources, live video sources, effects, displays, and so on.

File:Cl2_projectwindow_20100424_720px.png

Full-size image

These components are represented as node widgets in the Project window. They are visual blocks with two distinctive user interface features. Firstly, they enclose a set of controls, such as Play/Pause buttons for a video source.

Secondly, they have input and output ports. Using these ports, you can connect node widgets to each other in order to decide how they interact: for example, to display a video image on screen, you would connect the video source widget’s output port into the display widget’s input port. This is essentially like connecting a camera to a display using a cable. In Conduit Live, these 'cables' are created by dragging with the mouse from an output port.

The project can also contain components that don’t directly modify the output, but which do something useful while the project is running and video is playing. For example, the Rendered Capture node widget can be used to record any video stream to the computer's hard disk.

Node widgets can represent physical devices or interfaces. The Live Capture node represents a video camera connected to the computer; the Sliders node represents the controls in the Sliders window or a MIDI controller; and so on.

This kind of device metaphor can be a useful way of thinking about the project, even for node widgets which don’t have a direct physical equivalent in your hardware system. We could imagine a node widget which represents a real-world video mixer. It has eight video inputs and a single video output. To produce an image, the mixer "grabs" eight images from its inputs and renders a composite image which blends those images based on the state of the mixer's controls.

Conduit Live has a node widget that's exactly like this: it's called Conduit Effect. Unlike a physical video mixer, the Conduit Effect node widget is completely reconfigurable. To “rewire” the mixer’s internal processing, a click on the node widget's Edit button is enough. This opens the Conduit Editor, a rich node-based user interface for designing visual effects. It's exactly the same window that you can find in the Conduit plugins.

This illustrates the relation between Conduit Live and the rest of Conduit Suite. The Conduit Effect node widget is essentially the same thing as the Conduit filter applied to a video clip in Final Cut Pro or After Effects. It's the surrounding application environment that's quite different: a sequence in FCP (or a composition in After Effects) is based on layered video tracks, whereas the Conduit Live project is based on interconnected node widgets. The basic interfaces are so different that the applications are complementary; they have quite different strengths and use cases. Conduit Live is not the tool of choice for editing and trimming video clips, whereas FCP or AE are not suitable for dynamic live video applications - which is where Conduit Live shines.

For more information on node widgets, how connections between them work, and what the colors on the connector lines mean, see CL2 Node Widgets.

Project window tabs

The Project window has three tabs: Library, Settings and Info.

Library contains a list of node widgets available in the system. To view a description of a node widget, click on it. To create a node widget in the project, drag from the Library to the Project node area.

Settings has important parameters that affect the output of the project. For more information, see Setting up the project.

Info shows the application version number and information about installed plugins.

Viewer window

File:Cl2_viewer_shapes_20100424.png

The Viewer window shows the project’s final video output. This is determined by whatever is connected into the Display node widget in the Project window’s node area.

By default, Conduit Live provides a Multi-Display node. It has multiple inputs and can be configured to display those inputs on screen in various layouts. It also does basic compositing, so you can use it to place one video stream over another; e.g. titles over a background. For more information, see the chapter Using the Multi-Display node widget in this manual.

The Viewer window has the following settings:

  • Image pixel aspect ratio
  • Color transform
  • Scaling mode (Fit to view / Center 1:1 / Stretch to fill)

Depending on the active node widget, Conduit Live will also display on-screen controls in the Viewer window. For example, a Conduit Effect node widget will display shape drawing controls when there’s a Shapes node selected in the Conduit Editor window.

Previews and scopes

Node widgets that output a video stream typically also offer a preview window. These include Movie Source, Live Source and Conduit Effect. To open the preview, click on the “eye” button.

Previews are shown in dark floater windows. There’s no limit to the number of previews that can be simultaneously open.

File:Cl2_scopes_rgbparade_20100426.png

The preview window has two display modes: Image and Scopes. Scopes provides a complete set of video scope displays, helpful in analyzing the image’s luminance and color distribution. The following video scope displays are available:

  • Luma
  • Y’CbCr Parade
  • Chroma Vectorscope
  • RGB Parade

Conduit Editor window

The Conduit Editor is a graphical interface for creating realtime visual effects. Nodes represent image processing operations. The editor window opens by clicking on the "Edit" button in a Conduit Effect node widget.

File:Conduit2_in_fcp_curves_20100411_editor_720px.png

The Conduit Editor is also available in the Conduit plugins (for Final Cut Studio, After Effects and Photoshop). Effects can be transferred between all Conduit versions using the .conduit file format.

For more information on Conduit Editor, see CL2 Conduit Editor.

Sliders and Color Pickers window

Sliders and color pickers in Conduit Live 2 are a simple interface for controlling rendering. The sliders can be attached to an external MIDI controller for real physical interaction.

The meaning of the sliders is entirely programmable. "Slider 1" doesn't represent anything in particular until it's given a meaning by another node widget that uses the value in some fashion.

By default, the Slider Bank node is connected to a Conduit Effect. Within the Conduit Effect, the slider values are represented as Slider nodes in the Conduit Editor:

In the above screenshot, the slider value is used to mix between two image inputs. There's no limit to what you can do with sliders in the Conduit Editor: they can be attached to image processing values like saturation, used in math operations, and combined with pixel values.

It's also possible to control slider values using keyframed animation. Click on the 'Curve' button to edit keyframes. (For more information, see CL2 Animation.)

Using slider values in other node widgets

Although the Conduit Effect is the typical "destination" of slider/picker values, other node widgets can also use slider data. Typically this would be used with a Script Widget that processes the slider values somehow, or combines the slider values with some other data.

Project Script Editor window

Using the script editor window you can write JavaScript programs to control node widgets.

For most types of node widgets, scripting is entirely optional and can be used to provide advanced behavior. (For example, you could write a script to make a Movie Source node jump to a new random position every three seconds.)

A few widgets are completely scripting-oriented and require some programming to be useful, such as Script Widget. These widgets can be powerful tools even when you don't intend to write programs yourself: useful scripts can be loaded from disk or copied from a web page.

Other windows

Application add-ons can create their own windows within the Conduit Live 2 interface. You'll find these in the Tools menu. If the Stage Tools add-on is installed, it will add several items to the Tools menu.


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