The Shapes Tab

The Shapes tab lets you draw custom shapes to use as vignettes in the Secondaries room for feature isolation, vignetting, or digital relighting. The Shapes tab is not meant to be used by itself, nor are you meant to begin operations in the Shapes tab. Instead, shapes are initially created by choosing the User Shape option from the Shape pop-up menu of the Vignette controls in the Secondaries room.

Figure. Shape pop-up menu.

When you choose this option, you are immediately taken to the Shapes tab of the Geometry room, which provides the controls for drawing and editing your own custom shapes. For a more thorough explanation of this workflow, see Creating a User Shape for Vignetting.

Note: User Shapes can only be used with secondary operations in the Secondaries room. They cannot be used in the Color FX room.

Controls in the Shapes Tab

The Shapes tab has the following controls:

Figure. Shapes tab parameters.
  • Current Secondary pop-up menu: Lists which of the eight available tabs in the Secondaries room is the currently selected secondary operation, but you can choose any secondary tab from this pop-up menu prior to making an assignment. When you click the Attach button, this is the secondary tab that the currently selected shape will be attached to.
  • Attached Shape: When you select a shape that has been attached to a shot’s secondary tab, this field shows the selected shape’s name and the grade to which it’s been attached using the following format: shapeName.gradeNumber
  • Attach button: Once you’ve drawn a shape you want to use to limit a secondary operation, click Attach to attach it to the currently open secondary tab in the Secondaries room (shown in the Current Secondary field).
  • Detach button: Click Detach to break the relationship between a shape and the secondary tab to which it was previously assigned. Once detached, a shape no longer has a limiting effect on a secondary operation.
  • Shapes list: This list shows all the unattached shapes that are available in a project, as well as the shapes that have been assigned to the current shot. Clicking a shape in this list displays it in the image preview area and updates all the parameters in the Shapes tab with the selected shape’s settings.
    • Name column: The name of the shape, editable in the Shape Name field.
    • ID column: An identification number for the shape. ID numbers start at 0 for the first shape and are incremented by one every time you create a new shape.
    • Grade column: When a shape is attached, this column shows the grade to which it’s been attached.
    • Sec column: When a shape is attached, this column shows which of the eight secondary tabs the shape has been attached to.
  • Hide Shape Handles: Click Hide Shape Handles to hide the control points of shapes in the image preview. The outline of the shape remains visible.
  • Reverse Normals: When a shape is feathered using the Softness parameter, this button reverses which shape defines the inner and outer edges of feathering.
  • Use Tracker pop-up menu: If you’ve analyzed one or more Motion Trackers in the current project, you can choose which tracker to use to automatically animate the position of the vignette from this pop-up menu. To disassociate a vignette from the tracker’s influence, choose None.
  • Softness: A global feathering operation for the entire shape. When set to 0, the shape has a hard (but anti-aliased) edge. When set to any value above 0, inner and outer softness shapes appear along with their own control points. The inner shape shows where the feathering begins, while the outer shape shows the very edge of the feathered shape. If necessary, each border can be independently adjusted.
  • Shape Name: This field defaults to “untitled”; however, you can enter your own name for the currently selected shape in order to better organize the shapes list.
  • New button: Click New to create a new, unassigned shape.
  • Remove button: Choose a shape and click Remove to delete a shape from the Shapes list.
  • Close Shape/Open Shape button: This button switches the currently selected shape between a closed and open state.
  • Save button: Saves the currently selected shape to the Shape Favorites directory.
  • Load button: Loads all shapes that are currently saved in the Shape Favorites directory into the Shapes list of the current shot.
  • B-spline/Polygon buttons: Switches the currently selected shape between B-Spline mode, which allows for curved shapes, and Polygon mode, in which shapes only have angled corners.
  • Main/Inner/Outer buttons: These buttons let you choose which points you want to select when dragging a selection box in the image preview, without locking any of the other control points. You can always edit any control point, no matter what this control is set to.

About the Shapes List

The Shapes list contains an entry for every unattached shape in the current project, as well as for all of the attached shapes used by the shot at the current position of the playhead. Clicking a shape in this list displays it in the image preview area and updates all of the parameters in the Shapes tab with the selected shape’s settings.

  • Name column: The name of the shape, editable in the Shape Name field.
  • ID column: An identification number for the shape. ID numbers start at 0 for the first shape and are incremented by one every time you create a new shape.
  • Grade column: When a shape is attached, this column shows the grade to which it’s been attached.
  • Sec column: When a shape is attached, this column shows which of the eight secondary tabs the shape has been attached to.

Saving and Loading Favorite Shapes

You can create a collection of custom shapes to use in other projects by using the Save and Load buttons. When you select an unattached shape in the Shapes list and click Save, it’s saved to the following directory:

/Users/username/Library/Application Support/Color/BShapes/

Click Load to load all the shapes that are saved within this directory into the Shapes list of the current shot. Once you decide which shape you want to use, you can remove the others.

Drawing Shapes

Drawing and editing shapes works in much the same way as other compositing applications. Color uses B-Splines to draw curved shapes, which are fast to draw and edit. These splines work similarly to those used in the curves in the Primary and Secondaries rooms.

B-Splines use control points that aren’t actually attached to the shape’s surface to “pull” the shape into different directions, like a strong magnet pulling thin wire. For example, here’s a curve with three control points:

Figure. B-spline control points.

The control point hovering above the shape is pulling the entire shape toward itself, while the surrounding control points help to keep other parts of the shape in place.

The complexity of a shape is defined by how many control points are exerting influence on that shape. If two control points are added to either side, and moved down, the curve can be modified as seen below.

Figure. Complex shape with many control points.

To make curves in a shape sharper, move their control points closer together. To make curves more gentle, move the control points farther away from one another.

Figure. Control points for sharp and gentle shapes compared.

The following procedures describe how to create, remove, and adjust the control points that edit curve controls.

To draw a shape
  1. Click one of the eight tabs in the Secondaries room to use it to make a secondary correction, turn on the Enable and Vignette buttons, then choose User Shape from the Shape pop-up menu.

    The Shapes tab in the Geometry room opens, and you’re ready to draw a shape.

  2. Click anywhere within the image preview area to add the first control point.

  3. Continue clicking within the image preview area to add more points.

  4. When you’re ready to finish, close the shape by clicking the first control point you created.

  5. Enter a name into the Shape Name field, then press Return. (This step is optional.)

  6. Click the Attach button to use the shape in the secondary tab.

    A duplicate of the shape you just drew appears in the list, which shows the number of the grade and the secondary tab to which it’s attached. (The original shape you drew remains in the list above, ready to be recycled at a future time.) At this point, you’re ready to use that shape in the Secondaries tab to which it’s been attached.

To adjust a shape
  • Drag any of its control points in any direction.

    Unlike Bezier splines, B-Splines have no tangents to adjust. The only adjustments you can make require using the number and position of control points relative to one another.

    Figure. Dragging a control point to adjust a shape.
To reposition a shape
  • Drag its green center handle in any direction.

    Figure. Dragging a shape's center handle to move it.

    The center handle is the point around which keyframing and motion tracking transformations are made.

To resize a shape
  1. Make sure the Main button is selected in the Shapes tab.

  2. Drag a selection box around every control point you want to resize.

    Selected control points turn green.

    Figure. Resizing a shape by dragging the corner of its bounding box.

    You don’t have to select every control point in the shape; you can make a partial selection to resize only a portion of the overall shape. The center of all selected control points displays a small green crosshairs box that shows the position of the selected control points relative to the center handle.

  3. Do one of the following:

    • Drag any of the four corners of the selection box to resize the shape relative to the opposite corner, which remains locked in position.

    • Option-drag the selection box to resize the shape relative to its center control (visible as green crosshairs).

    • Shift-drag the selection box to resize the shape while locking its aspect ratio, enlarging or reducing the shape without changing its width-to-height ratio.

To toggle a shape between a curved B-Spline and an angled polygon
  • Click either B-Spline or Polygon in the Shapes tab to change the shape to that type of rendering.

To feather the edge of a shape
  1. Increase its Softness value.

    The Softness parameter applies a uniform feathering around the entire shape. This also reveals a pair of inside and outside shapes that represent the inner and outer boundaries of the feathering effect that’s applied to the shape.

    Figure. Feathered shape.
  2. If necessary, adjust the shape’s inner and outer shape to create the most appropriate feathering outline around the perimeter of the shape.

    This lets you create irregularly feathered outlines when you’re isolating a feature where one edge should be hard, and another feathered.

    Figure. Adjusting inner and outer feathering shapes separately.
To add control points to a previously existing shape
  1. Select a shape to edit in the Shapes list.

  2. Click Open Shape.

    Figure. The Open Shape button.
  3. Click within the image preview area to add control points to the end of the selected shape.

    Figure. Clicking to add control points.
  4. Click the first control point of the shape when you finish adding more control points.

    Figure. Clicking the first control point to close a shape.

Animating Shapes with Keyframes and Trackers

If necessary, you can animate shapes in one of two ways:

  • Using keyframes: You can keyframe shapes. For more information on keyframing in Color, see Keyframing.
  • Using a tracker: You can also use motion tracking to automatically animate a shape; for example, to move to follow a feature that’s moving because the camera is panning.

    Once you create a tracker and analyze the shot (in the Tracking tab), you simply select a shape from the Shapes list and choose the number of the tracker you want to use from the Use Tracker pop-up menu, and the shape is automatically animated. If the Use Tracker pop-up menu is set to None, no trackers are applied. For more information, see The Tracking Tab.