Features common to all Conduit Effect System products

Performance

Conduit takes full advantage of the latest graphics hardware by NVIDIA and ATI. Even very complex compositing processes with dozens of operations can be rendered in realtime at up to HD quality. The underlying Conduit Effect System guarantees deep floating-point color precision throughout the compositing process. This eliminates rendering artifacts and makes it effortless to work with HDR images and use advanced color spaces such as linear luminance, logarithmic, HSV, CIE XYZ or CIELAB.

Conduit Effect System has a unique node fusion capability. The Engine can join parts or all of the compositing tree into a single efficient GPU program, as well as divide it into multiple passes for older GPUs that have tight program limitations.

Interface

The Conduit Editor user interface is elegant and ergonomic. It makes efficient use of color cues and subtle visual effects, adheres to modern human interface standards on both Mac OS X and Windows, and most importantly is fast and flexible to work with. It's possible to change the size of nodes, attach notes, etc.

Collaboration

Node-based compositing makes it easy for artists to reuse the effects and visual looks they create, because once an effect setup has been designed it can be applied to any number of shots or sent to another artist for modification. Conduit's lightweight file format facilitates this by making it easy to store, transfer and share compositing setups. (Want to get more out of Conduit? Join the Pixel Corps network of peer support and knowledge sharing, and access to a whole new world of ideas and techniques to help you execute those difficult compositing tasks.)

Keying

Blue / green screen keying is a fundamental compositing task, and Conduit makes it easier to pull the best possible key every time. With the power and flexibility of node-based compositing, you can start with the advanced built-in keying tools such as Color Difference, Color Range, 3D Key, Unspill & Despill and then finetune the matte with other tools, or you can even build your own keying method from scratch — all without the realtime renderer missing a beat.

Scopes

Vectorscopes very useful for monitoring the video signal. You can't always trust your eyes, but the graphic doesn't lie... They're particularly useful for greenscreen effect shoots and other situations where you need to ensure that color levels are within a certain range and don't have too much variation.

Scopes are available in all Conduit plugins as well as the Conduit Live application. The available types include Luma, Y'CbCr Parade, RGB Parade and Chroma Vectorscope.

High Dynamic Range

High dynamic range (HDR) means your images can have contrast ratios exceeding 1,000,000:1, so the same image can contain ultra-bright highlights and the most minute variations within shadow tones. By converting your video images to the linear light colorspace, the color values correspond to actual light intensities. HDR frees you from the restricting "0-255" digital mindset and allows you think of compositing in terms of combining and manipulating light itself.

Image detail is never lost because Conduit always operates at full floating point precision. For output, linear light HDR images typically need to be tone-mapped into the video colorspace. Conduit's built-in tools like Exposure allow you to think of this process using familiar photographic concepts like f-stops. You can of course also design your own tone mapping algorithm simply using Conduit's nodes.

Conduit includes many image processing tools. Some highlights:

  • Blurs (Gaussian, Linear)
  • Channel Mixer
  • Curves

    Separate RGBA channels, automatic smoothing, precise numeric entry of values

  • 2D Min / Max

    Expand or shrink color areas — great for mattes when combined with HDR blurs!

  • Histogram floater window for Curves and Levels
  • Convert RGB Space and other colorspace conversions

    Instantly fix difficult problems with mismatched colorspace or color temperature

  • Noise

    Renders natural-looking Gaussian noise at HDR precision — blur or process it to create freeform grain effects

  • Place Over and 3D Transform nodes

    Render layers with full control in space

Shapes

The Shapes node can be used to create high-quality vector masks and shapes. A single Shapes node can contain any number of shapes, and a shape can contain any number of control points.

The node provides on-screen editing controls. These editing controls can be viewed over any other node's output using the "solo" display mode (double-click on the node to view, then single-click on the Shapes node to view its controls).

Analysis tools

Conduit's plot tools offer a bird's eye view of how your compositing affects color. The Cube Plot is a zoomable and rotateable 3D color cube that shows the full range of possible RGB values being transformed by the compositing tree. It's never been this easy to get accurate feedback on what's really happening to the colors in your images.

Extensibility

Conduit introduces far-reaching scripting possibilities through its JavaScript engine and a complete set of JavaScript interfaces. Use scripting together with the visual editing of effects in the Conduit Editor, and get the best of both worlds.

JavaScript is probably the world's most popular programming language. It's used in web browsers, Adobe Flash, Adobe Creative Suite, and many other applications. Conduit's JavaScript environment is easy to learn and stays as close as possible to a web browser. Thus the mental investment of learning Conduit scripting can be easily translated to web development -- and vice versa. Learning graphics programming has never been easier.

Some highlights of scripting in Conduit 2:

  • Render high-quality 2D graphics
  • Render GPU-accelerated effects and 3D graphics
  • Combine Conduit effect trees with scripts
  • Create custom user interfaces
  • Package scripts and assets as plugins

    For more information, check out Tutorials and the Conduit 2.0 JavaScript API Reference in Resources

Canvas 2D graphics API

Canvas is a JavaScript graphics programming interface. You can use Canvas to render shapes, patterns, gradients, text, images, and almost any imaginable combination thereof.

Canvas is supported in modern browsers like Safari, Firefox and Opera. It's slated to become part of the upcoming HTML 5 standard. Conduit's Canvas implementation is fully compatible with code written for web browsers.

Supernode

Probably the flagship feature of Conduit 2 is the supernode: a special node that combines all of Conduit’s technologies into a single encapsulation. Supernodes can be easily used to package conduit effects as nodes, i.e. macros, but their possibilities go much further. With Supernode, ordinary users can create complex realtime visual effects, package them as plugins, easily distribute their creations -- and even sell them as protected binary plugins.

At the base level, supernodes are built in JavaScript. Firstly, they have the functionality of the aforediscussed Canvas node for 2D graphics. Exclusive to supernodes is the Surface API which allows rendering graphics and visual effects on the GPU (graphics processing unit).

Supernode capabilities extend beyond scripting because they can contain assets, including entire conduit effects. These nested “sub-conduits” can be opened for editing in the Conduit Editor window, and an info bar will be displayed above the node view to let the user navigate back to the higher level. (The name supernode derives from this nesting capability: the supernode is literally “above” the conduits contained within it.)

This kind of encapsulation of conduits within nodes is familiar from other node-based applications (e.g. Shake calls them macros). Conduit's supernodes are more powerful, because scripting available in the Conduit supernode gives the user complete control of what gets rendered. The default script for a supernode does act like a Shake macro: it simply renders using the first contained conduit. But the user has free roam to modify this behavior, using conduit effect trees effectively as custom GPU programs created visually. (For example, to create a plugin that shows two effects side-by-side, the user could add another conduit into the supernode and render some portions of the output image using that conduit instead; then generate a matte image with the Canvas API, and use that image to blend between the images rendered by the two conduits.)

Scripted binary plugins

For distribution, effects created using Canvas or Supernode can be packaged into a binary plugin. Using this format, the script behaves like a regular plugin: the source code for the effect is not visible to the user.

Binary plugins can be created directly from the Conduit Editor.

Native plugins (Lacefx C API)

In addition to JavaScript plugins, Conduit 2 includes a traditional C language interface for developing plugins. Called Lacefx, the API offers a cross-platform programming interface for rendering graphics on the GPU which isolates the developer from the underlying native graphics API (OpenGL on Mac, Direct3D on Windows). (The Lacefx SDK for developing native plugins is available upon request.)

The Conduit plugins

The Conduit Suite includes plugins for several popular host applications. You'll find Conduit where filters are normally located in the app. When the filter is applied to a layer or video track, there is a Conduit Editor button in the interface that opens the editing window where you can customize the filter. Most of the Conduit plugins also include the ability to retrieve slider values and other images from the host app.

Supported host applications for the Conduit Suite plugins are Apple Final Cut Pro (v5.1.2 or higher), Apple Motion (v2.0 or higher), Adobe After Effects (v7.0 or higher), Adobe Photoshop and Apple Aperture.

Both 32- and 64-bit versions are included. (For After Effects, the default is to install the 64-bit version compatible with CS5. The 32-bit can also be installed, but this needs to be specified during installation.)

Conduit Live

Conduit Live is a Mac application that can handle the most demanding realtime video tasks. It does live video capture and offline compositing with equal ease.

  • Capture video from multiple sources

    Built-in support for all QuickTime-compatible devices and BlackMagic Inc. capture units

  • Record live streams to disk
  • Create a customizable video setup in the Project view

    Connect 'node widgets' to each other like real-world devices

  • Load QuickTime, DPX/Cineon, OpenEXR and more file formats

    Deep color (10, 16, 32 bits per channel) is supported throughout the app

  • Apply realtime effects using the Conduit Effect
  • Animate values using keyframes
  • Output to multiple displays or projectors

    Built-in support for Matrox GXM units (DualHead2Go/TripleHead2Go)

  • Create custom rendering and data processing using JavaScript
  • Automate processing and rendering using Batch Actions
  • Extend the system with add-ons including Stage Tools

Conduit Live is included in the Conduit Suite.

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