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After Effects and the VTFS System from dps Velocity

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After Effects and the VTFS System from dps Velocity
Creativecow.net Leitch dpsVelocity Tutorial


After Effects and the VTFS System from dps Velocity


John David Hutton
mYth productions
Kansas City, Kansas, USA

©2003 John David Hutton and Creativecow.net. All rights are reserved.

Article Focus:
The Virtual Tape File System in Leitch dpsVelocity is the most fascinating design and John David's most favorite feature of the software. With the VTFS you can actually take an existing image sequence (targa, tif, others are supported) and bring it into your editing NLE without having to render it to a proprietary format first. You can also take a captured clip and copy the image sequence of that capture to another computer without ever exporting anything in the NLE first! In this tutorial, John David Hutton demonstrates how to use After Effects with the VFTS System.


The VTFS system in Velocity is the most fascinating design and my most favorite feature of the software. With the VTFS you can actually take an existing image sequence (targa, tif, others are supported) and bring it into your editing NLE without having to render it to a proprietary format first. You can also take a captured clip and copy the image sequence of that capture to another computer without ever exporting anything in the NLE first!

Note: Whenever working with image sequences, I like having an image sequence manager loaded to help me in my conversions and the batch renaming of files. Why? Suppose you had a clip that you’ve already rendered out of a 3D app, Maya let’s say, but the 3D artist didn’t name his clip sequence with the correct format “filename0001.tga”, instead he named it “filename01.tga”. An image sequence manager will let you load up the files from your 3D artist and immediately rename them to include enough padding (zeros) in the filename so Velocity will like it. This saves you the trouble of renaming each file, one-by-one. My favorite sequence manager is irfanview (http://www.irfanview.com). Another popular one is Sequence 911. Others exist.

So what’s the big deal about the VTFS? The Virtual Tape File System is a file structure on the video drive of a dpsVelocity and dpsVelocityQ system. It contains folders for various file formats. The picture below illustrates what the root drive of a video drive (usually the P drive) looks like:



Note: While both velocity (with reality cards) and VelocityQ (with Quattrus cards) systems use different hardware among them, their audio (.dva) and video (.dps) files are 100% interchangeable as well as compatible with After Effects (even on a system without any hardware installed!). This compatible file structure allows an editor to do many things and saves a lot of time over standard ways of getting files to and from the NLE software.

Although Leitch supplies a plug-in for After Effects to bring in a .dps file on a system without any of the proprietary hardware installed, many prefer to stick with standard image sequence formats like tga, tif, bmp, rla, etc (all those listed in the pic above).

One of the most popular uses of the VTFS among After Effects users is rendering an AE comp directly to the video drive in not the dps format but in a standard image sequence format.


Step 1:

Create an empty dps media file (Go to windows explorer, navigate to your volume > dps > project folder and create a dps media file by right-clicking and choosing New > DPS Media File)


A dialogue box will pop up that looks similar to this:


Enter a filename. I like to make my filenames simple so when, in a later step, I have to retype this filename into After Effects I won’t mistype it.

Naturally if you don’t want an alpha you can uncheck the “With Alpha Channel” box. It won’t hurt anything if you leave it checked and don’t need it.

If you’re unsure on the “Duration” field, switch back to your AE project (presuming you already had it open) and cntrl-click on the number field in the timeline window in the upper-left corner. Hit “end” to go to the very end of your timeline. If you have a workspace set that isn’t at the end of your timeline, hit shift-end to get to the end of your workspace.




Step 2:


In AE, set up your render queue correctly (29.97, lower field first or frames is fine). In this example, we’ll choose to output to targa sequence.



Click on filename and navigate to your video (P) drive. Instead of going into volume > dps, go into volume > tga and find your project folder and finally your newly-created file folder (this was created on the step above where you right-clicked in windows explorer and did a new > dps media file).



Note the padding (the number of digits after the filename - the default is 4). You’ll want to keep the [####] part of the filename intact, and simply rename the rest of the filename to what you originally created back in step 1. I used “filename” so I will type filename[####].tga. If you do it right, AE will ask if you want to overwrite the existing files and you say yes.



That’s it! Once you start rendering, AE will replace the original (blank) files velocity created for you back in step 1 and you can collect the filename.dps clip into the gallery and be on your merry way.

If you’d rather, you can also render to a system drive and simply copy over the targa files to the P drive after the fact. It’s possible you may have faster render times using this method but I haven’t tested to see if this is true.

Wait a minute! You’ve gone into velocity and imported your file but you don’t like one of the effects you applied in After Effects. Keeping velocity open, switch back to After Effects and fix the effect. Render exactly how you did before. Once it’s done, switch back to velocity and click on the same clip you imported the first time and your new render will play! Velocity fools windows into thinking that it’s using the .dps version of your “filename” render, so when you render out of After Effects in the targa format the 2nd time, you replace the “filename” clip without running into file permission problems because you’re changing the targa version of the file, not the dps version of the file. Cool, huh?

Note: VelocityQ users have reported losing their NTSC preview if they switch back and forth between velocity and after effects. An easy fix is to put the playback head over an empty area of your timeline and switch back to AE. Once you do this, you should regain your NTSC preview. As far as I’ve heard, this workaround does not work for reality users.

Hope this helps shine some light on this fabulous velocity feature!

- John David Hutton
(Mythprod)


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