Thursday, November 8, 2018

ProEXR 2.0

Version 2.0 of ProEXR is now available. The major new addition is support for Cryptomatte in After Effects.

Cryptomatte is a clever improvement over OpenEXR’s ID channels, which have been supported by ProEXR since the beginning, but in practice are rarely used. The problem with an ID channel is that each pixel can only specify a single ID, so small things like antialiasing, motion blur, and depth of field won’t work properly. Using some tricks involving 32-bit float EXR channels and cryptographic hashes, Cryptomatte gives you the ID channels you always wanted, fully functional. Just turn on Cryptomatte in a supported 3D renderer, set up the comps in After Effects using ProEXR AE, select the Cryptomatte effect, and click in your comp to generate perfect mattes for any object(s) you choose.

Since Cryptomatte uses a series of EXR channels to work its magic, developing this plug-in exposed some inefficiencies in the OpenEXR file module, which has now been updated to always cache channels and headers. In extreme cases involving EXR sequences with many channels, the speedup can be as high as 20x. I encourage all multi-channel EXR enthusiasts to replace the plug-in that ships with AE.


Update: More information about this release and Cryptomatte in a ProVideo Coalition article by Chris Zwar!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Apple peaked in 2011

Anyone looking at my desk today could be forgiven for thinking they had stepped into a time machine. An OLED TV and Nintendo Switch on the other side of the room would reassure them this was indeed 2018, but the desk is firmly planted in 2011. There's a MacBook Pro (Early 2011), a Mac Pro (Mid 2010), and an iPhone 4 (released February 2011). Look closer and you'll also see that all three devices are still running operating systems from 2011: Mac OS X Snow Leopard and iOS 5.

Perhaps I'm a Luddite, unable or afraid to upgrade to the current OS versions? Or maybe I'm too poor or cheap to upgrade my hardware, the last time I could afford to do so was during Obama's first term? I assure you that neither of these are the case. In my day job I run a network of Macs running the latest OS. Said job also provides a paycheck that I could use to buy new computers. In fact, those Macs were acquired this calendar year, but they are older models I got through Craigslist. I can and do run newer Mac OS versions inside VMWare or by booting from another partition when necessary. On the iOS side, I have an iPad running a recent iOS. So I'm perfectly familiar with the various Apple OS updates, but I choose to use the 2011 versions instead.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Screw you, Microsoft

This blog has never before veered toward anything that might be considered opinion, but today I am making an exception. With no small amount of chagrin I heard recently that Microsoft had bought GitHub, and so I am now taking my open source projects off GitHub and moving them to GitLab.

I will be the first to admit I'm not completely rational about this. Perhaps a long-ago spurned lover of Barack Obama refused to vote him into office. Ghandi's ex-girlfriend may say he was a jerk. Well, I've been hurt by Microsoft, and if you use computers with any frequency I'd argue you've been hurt as well.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Got a new product sold though Mekajiki: RenderGarden. I suppose the tagline sums it up best: it's not a farm, just a little garden. As opposed to full farm management software like Pixar's Tractor, RenderGarden is just a couple of scripts. But it's cheap and easy, letting you get a little After Effects render farm garden going in minutes.

A big benefit of using RenderGarden vs. the AE render queue is that you can run multiple render processes simultaneously, even on a single computer. If After Effects were fully multi-threaded this would not be much help, but in AE's current state RenderGarden can often double or triple rendering speeds, meanwhile leaving After Effects available for you to continue working.

Programs like Tractor have a centralized database of their various render tasks. A hack used by RenderGarden is that the filesystem itself is the database, with the priority of the various jobs controlled by their place in your drive's hierarchy, their status determined by naming conventions. This system isn't as bullet-proof as Tractor, but it's simple, cheap, and works for small-scale users and teams looking for a little render farm functionality.

Monday, February 6, 2017

OpenColorIO for Photoshop

Many moons ago I released an OpenColorIO plug-in for After Effects. Now there's a Photoshop plug-in as well. It has most of the same features and a similar interface.

One useful feature for Photoshop workflows is the ability to export ICC Profiles and LUTs right from the plug-in. You can test out a color conversion directly on your pixels by running it normally. Then undo and export an ICC Profile that can be assigned to your document (make sure you save it in the proper directory). Or export a LUT to be assigned to a Color Lookup adjustment layer in Photoshop.

As usual, it's free and open source.


Plug-in version: 1.1.0
Date: 14 March 2018
Mac | Win

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

ProEXR is Free

About 10 years ago I released ProEXR, a set of After Effects and Photoshop plug-ins for using multi-channel OpenEXR files. From the beginning, the core AE plug-ins were free and the source code was available. A year later the AE plug-ins started shipping with After Effects CS4, and they still do to this day. Eventually ProEXR AE was added, ProEXR EZ was made free, then Premiere plug-ins were added and later included with the program, free. I guess the only thing left to do is make the whole darn thing free. And so it is. (It's open source too.)

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank everyone who bought ProEXR over the years. Your support has really meant a lot, and allowed me to keep refining ProEXR into a stable product used by artists and installed in studios all over the world. All those who will use ProEXR in the future owe you a debt.

To be candid, part of the decision to make ProEXR free was driven by the emergence of another free Photoshop plug-in with a strikingly similar feature set. It looks nice, check it out.

Thanks again, everyone. Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2016


I've teamed up with some old friends to make a new Mac application, Boardfish, a tool for creating storyboards. Make panels in the graphics app of your choosing and drag them in. Boardfish will let you arrange them, add captions, and export to a PDF.
Boardfish is the brainchild of Matt Silverman, who runs the production studio Swordfish. (I've known Matt since forever, starting with ElectricImage user groups at the turn of the century.) At Swordfish, Matt & co. have often made storyboards using general purpose tools like InDesign, but making changes to the layouts was a pain. Matt thought it would be worth it to make an app dedicated to storyboards, so he brought me in to do the programming, Mauchi Baiocchi for creative input, and Brandon Smith for everything else (including the docs and website). Together, we are Mekajiki Inc.

When it comes down to it, Boardfish is basically a page layout app—a procedural one. Virtually everything about the layout of the boards is exposed: the number of panels on a page, the typeface and font size of each text element, the width and color of every line. Boardfish lets you make global changes instantly.

There's a free trial. Give it a whirl!