The Main Window
The Time Shaper user interface consists mostly of a single window dominated by the preview display. A timeline below the preview window allows selection of the "in" and "out" points for the conversion as well as the timecodes for each. Buttons at the top of the preview display allow selection between views of frames from the incoming clip and the output resampled frames.
Settings on the right allow selection of the input clip and parameters, the output clip and output parameters, and the conversion options.
The color and contrast of the preview window are for quick-rendering only. The actual color and contrast of the processed footage will be unchanged from the input footage, and will have no relationship to the preview.
The workflow for Time Shaper in the graphical interface is straightforward. Open an input clip and set the input clip properties if they are not known from the metadata, select an output location and set the output project frame rate and any file options, and then choose the shutter and speed factor and any "in" and "out" points. Then click "Start Processing" to create the output clip.
Specifying an Input Clip and Options
You can choose an input clip from the "File/Open Clip..." menu item, or by clicking the "..." button next to the input clip name on the main window. For ProRes, the .mov file can be directly selected. For ACES or ARRIRAW, select any .ari or .exr file within the clip and Time Shaper will open the entire clip. Time Shaper will read any metadata present in the incoming file to determine the colorspace (for ProRes) and acquisition frame rate for the clip. In many cases, these can't be determined from the clip, or are inaccurately recorded, so you can override these settings in the "Input Clip" section of the main window.
The colorspace of the incoming footage is used for the frame-blending algorithm, and will not affect the output color. It's needed to more smoothly do the internal processing, and the effects of using the wrong color space will be bands or lines in what would normally be smooth motion blur. ARRIRAW and ACES always encode data in a linear color space, so this does not need to be specified for those formats.
The incoming acquisition frame rate is the actual framing rate of the camera, which is very likely different from the project frame rate. For instance, a ProRes clip may be acquired at 120 fps, but the project frame rate was set to 24 fps. Played back at 24 fps, this would look very slow-motion (it's over-cranked). For Time Shaper, this would need to be entered as "120 fps", which was the actual sensor rate. In many cases, this is not available in the clip metadata, and it can be entered by clicking the "..." button next to the frame rate in the "Input Clip" section.
Specifying the Output Location and Options
The output file location and clip name can be specified in the "Output Clip" section. The output file type always matches the input file type; ProRes input files are always saved as ProRes output, etc. The only exception to this is that H.264 inputs will be saved as ProRes. By default, the clip name will be the same as the incoming clip name with "-TS" appended. The clip name can be changed by clicking the pencil icon next to the output clip name and editing the name. A small yellow circle to the left of the output clip name indicates the clip exists in the output location and will be overwritten if processing starts.
The output path can be changed by clicking the "..." button to the right of the listed output path. This location is retained over program restarts.
For ProRes, the ".mov" files are created within the output path folder. For ARRIRAW or ACES outputs, a folder with the clip name is created under the output path and the files are stored within that newly created folder.
The output project frame rate can be selected from 23.976, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94, and 60 frames per second. The selected output project frame rate will be stored over program restarts.
For ProRes, the ProRes sub-type can be selected, which changes the color storage and compression rate. By default, this will match the input ProRes type.
For ACES, the compression of the output files can be selected. Uncompressed, lossless, and lossy compression options are available. While OpenEXR supports many different compression options, only these three are supported within the ACES standard. The output files are always stored as 16-bit half-floats in the OpenEXR format.
ARRIRAW does not have any options to set for the output.
Constant vs. Variable Speed Factor
By default, the "Constant Speed Factor" checkbox is checked, which means the entire clip will play back at the same rate (no speed ramp.) If unchecked, the speed ramping keyframes and speed ramp editor will become active.
There are two options for how the main processing will proceed: "speed factor" and the "synthetic shutter". Both options are specified in the lower right-hand side of the main window. Speed factor specifies how fast action will be rendered in the output clip with respect to real-time, and the synthetic shutter specifies the "look" that is applied to the conversion.
The speed factor is used to speed up or slow down action in the output footage. By default, action will be rendered with a speed factor of 1, which indicates real-time playback. Speed factors less than 1 will cause action to play back in slow-motion, or will have an overcranked look. Speed factors greater than 1 will cause the action to play back in fast-motion (undercranked). The effective acquisition rate indicates what real frame rate a camera would have been running at to achieve this speed of playback if no resample had occurred.
For speed factors of 1, sometimes a "frame slipping" indicator appears. Ideally, the actual camera acquisition frame rate is an integer multiple of the output project frame rate for real-time playback. This may not be the case, and if not, then the nearest set of incoming frames will be used to create each output frame, which results in occasional "slips" to the frame cadence. In the case of matching fractional frame rates (NTSC 1/1001 times), this may be very minor, but it may result in unacceptable stutters for frame rates that are very far off from integer multiples. In the case of the 1/1001 offsets, a near real-time speed factor (0.999) is also available which would result in no frame slipping, but would have the fractional offset in real-time playback. It is generally preferable to avoid frame slipping by ensuring the acquisition frame rate is an exact integer multiple of the desired output frame rate.
The Synthetic Shutter dropdown allows selection of the "look" to be applied. This is the heart of what Time Shaper does, and a detailed explanation of how to choose these is given here:
When a new shutter is selected, the preview image automatically updates to show the resulting output frame if the "Resampled" view is selected.
If the "Constant Speed Factor" checkbox is unchecked, the speed ramping options in the timeline become active.
The "+" button on the left side of the timeline will add additional control points (or keyframes). Each control point specifies a speed factor, or a rate of apparent motion in playback at that point. The speed factor will smoothly ramp from control point to control point, and the color of the timeline bar indicates the relative playback speed at that point, with red indicating faster apparent motion (undercranking) and blue indicating slower apparent motion (overcranking).
To the lower right of the timeline, the instantaneous speed factor and effective acquisition frame rate are displayed for the playhead position.
The timeline is displayed with respect to the input clip, while the tic marks on the timeline indicate output frame positions based on the current speed ramp selected.
If more control over the speed ramp is desired, the Speed Ramp Editor button can be used to bring up the Speed Ramp Editor. This allows control points to be entered manually or adjusted. All control points are specified by their location (frame number in the input clip) and the speed factor at that point.
Output In and Out Points
The "in" and "out" points for the processed footage can be selected by dragging the triangular markers on the timeline, by clicking the "..." buttons on the lower left of the main window and typing a value, or by pressing the "i" or "o" buttons on the keyboard while viewing a frame to specify the current frame as the "in" or "out" point respectively.
- Right arrow: advance one (output) frame
- Left arrow: go back one (output) frame
- i: set “in” point to the currently selected frame
- o: set “out” point to the currently selected frame
- option-i: clear the “in” point (reset to beginning of clip)
- option-o: clear the “out” point (reset to end of clip)
- shift-i: set the currently selected frame to the “in” point
- shift-o: set the currently selected frame to the “out” point
- Command-C: copy the current command-line options to the clipboard