Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

SilhouetteFX ships Silhouette V5

The Silhouette V5 teaser. Watch demos of individual features on SilhouetteFX’s YouTube channel.

SilhouetteFX has released a major update to Silhouette, its roto, paint and keying software.

Silhouette V5 actually came out last week, but we haven’t seen a lot of coverage of it yet, and it deserves a story: with some justification, the developer is calling it “the single largest upgrade in the product’s history”.

New approaches to roto
The release includes some nice examples of lateral thinking, including a new Auto Paint toolset that can tween raster paint strokes as if they were vector-based, and the option to apply inverse kinematics to roto shapes.

There are also improvements to the warping/morphing tools, and SilhouetteFX has licensed the mocha Pro planar tracking technology from recent Sci-Tech Academy Award winners Imagineer Systems.

You can find full details in the news release below. Silhouette V5 is available now for Windows Vista and above, Mac OS X 10.7 and above, and Linux, price $1,495.

The release also introduces a new dedicated S3D node for stereoscopic conversion work, which costs $3,995.

SilhouetteFX LLC, is pleased to announce the release of Silhouette V5. Already considered the gold standard in stereo roto, paint and keying, Silhouette is greatly enhanced by an innovative raster/vector hybrid paint system, semi-automatic 2D to 3D conversion, a fresh look at shape-based warping and morphing and the inclusion of Academy Award winning planar tracking technology from Imagineer Systems’s mocha Pro™. These are just four of the upgrades from an extensive list of new features.

At least three of these new capabilities have the potential to be transformative in the visual effects industry.

Auto Paint – joins the best of vector-based and raster-based paint
Silhouette has been deeply entrenched in paint for post-production for many years. Auto Paint, new in V5, is a breakthrough innovation providing the speed and detail of raster-based paint systems with the repeatability and animation capability of vector-based paint systems.

Never before have the benefits of raster-based and vector-based paint been combined as seamlessly as in Silhouette V5. The raster-based nature of each stroke is logged into a database, available to be instantly played back using keyframes or trackers in a manner similar to vector-based paint systems. Visual effects artists finally get a lightning-fast raster paint system that can automatically tween or repaint over modified footage.

Jeremy Cho, rotoscoping and paint supervisor on TED, says of Silhouette V5 and Auto “The new Silhouette offers enhanced features and tools to tackle complex rotoscoping and painting tasks with greater efficiency. When it comes to frame-by-frame painting, the best of both worlds combine within this package: the speed of rasterization and the flexibility of non-destructive painting. Silhouette is a vital rotoscoping and paint tool here at Tippett Studio.”

S3D – assisted/semi-automatic conversion of 2D to 3D stereo and auto-stereo
Silhouette was the first roto and paint system to offer a full stereo workflow. More recently, Silhouette has become an important part of the 2D to 3D conversion process. New in V5 is the optional S3D node incorporating RealityTools technology from 3D Impact Media, a new strategic partner.

An option available at an additional cost of $3,995 (for a limited time – regularly $5,995), the S3D node facilitates 2D to 3D conversion and stereoscopic processing in six ways:

  • Silhouette’s roto tools have become depth-enabled (in the S3D option). Every shape has a depth that can be keyframed.
  • New roto tools such as ramps, hallways, tunnels and more have been added.
  • Depth maps can be built semi-automatically from both mono (non-stereo) as well as stereoscopic images.
  • Existing stereoscopic content can be depth analyzed and re-rendered for different display sizes taking into account the 3D geometry of the target display.
  • Parallax and convergence can be finely adjusted during post-production.
  • The S3D node can generate virtual camera views using a specialized warper required for auto-stereoscopic, multi-view and plain stereoscopic displays.

The integration of RealityTools into the Silhouette framework makes for a comprehensive stereoscopic solution.

Shape-based warping and morphing from the folks who invented it
Silhouette partner Perry Kivolowitz received an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement in 1996 for the co-invention of shape-driven warping and morphing. Sixteen years later Silhouette introduces a re-imagining of shape-based warping. Extremely fast, the Silhouette Morph node is capable of producing film resolution warps in a few milliseconds (in its draft mode). Performance remains high even as warps become more complex. On a shape by shape basis, warps can be exact (where controlled pixels hit their marks precisely) or may be of looser precision (shapes become permeable). The Silhouette warper provides control over image folding, a feature overlooked in many warping systems.

Importantly, the Silhouette Warper accepts overlapping shapes. Combined with Silhouette’s new Inverse Kinematics capability (see below), support of overlapping shapes makes warping of armatures, maquettes and other articulated objects such as people straightforward.

Planar Tracking Technology Licensed from Imagineer Systems
The company has signed a licensing agreement with Imagineer Systems permitting the integration of the planar tracking technology from Imagineer’s mocha Pro™ into Silhouette V5. Silhouette V5 will continue to offers the company’s own point and planar trackers in addition to the mocha tracker. With the inclusion of mocha’s excellent planar tracker, Silhouette now provides artists a variety of different tracking technologies to complete the most demanding of shots.

Rotoscoping with Inverse Kinematics
Silhouette’s feature set has been augmented with the addition of an innovative approach to Inverse Kinematics. 3D modeling systems have long enjoyed the benefit of IK for animating articulated objects such as people, animals and creatures in general. Silhouette V5 adapts the layer system already familiar to Silhouette users to dynamically generate “bone” structures for articulated shape transformation. When the IK feature is enabled, dragging a shape such as a fingertip has the potential to transform an entire arm. Since so much of roto work is on articulated objects, Silhouette’s IK feature can be a big time saver.

Other features
In addition to these major advances, Silhouette V5 adds numerous features and changes such as automatic stereo alignment, depth channel support, local disk caching for speedy playback, filled shapes, object searching, source transformations, an improved and more accurate planar tracker, and the ability to rotate the viewer for upside down and sideways shots.

New licenses for Silhouette V5 are $1,495. The S3D option has an introductory price of $3,995. Upgrades from V3/4 to V5 are $495.

Read more about Silhouette V5 on the SilhouetteFX website