Automatic preset generation and high level editing

There are already a ton of different automatic preset generation features in Studio Artist. They include:

1: Preset memories that record and playback all of the editable settings associated with a preset. And for the paint synth, preset memories that just record and playback editable settings associated with specific high level attributes of the preset, like path generation only, or brush settings only.

2: Morph and Mingle commands that work off of 2 or more preset memories.

3: Randomize commands.  That randomize all editable control panels associated with an editable preset effect, or just specific control panels. Multiple control panels being an attempt at conceptual grouping of editable controls.

4: MSG Evolution Editor.  Mutate, morph, mingle, evolve, meta-edit, etc.

5: Gallery Show. Includes many different 'intelligent' preset randomization options, as well as dual preset mingles and morphs, among it's many, many cool features. 

Also has the ability to construct 'art process or art strategy' PASeq presets.  Which was really it's primary design purpose.

I'm also going to include 'smart' meta-edit commands as a different kind of automatic preset generation feature. You can think of them as ways to do targeting high-level preset editing. So you are automatically creating new presets, but the artist is in the loop deciding which meta edit commands to use on which presets, and how to sequence different meta-edit commands.

An example of what i mean by MetaEdit command would be something like 'Make Paint Wet1' in the existing paint synth macro edits.  Or 'Edge Focus' vs 'Color Area Focus' vs 'Focus Everywhere'.

MetaEdit commands automatically adjust one or more editable parameters when you run them.  They are nice, since you can focus on the high level description of what you are trying to do as opposed to diving into the cognitive dissonance of adjusting multiple sliders or popups on multiple control panels to dial in manually whatever it is you are trying to do to edit the preset.

I had a discussion recently with a user, who was very adamant about Synthetik changing the name of 'Gallery Show' to 'Automatic Preset Generator'. Since this was what they wanted to use it for.  All they wanted to use it for in fact. And they thought that should be made clear to everyone, that it was an automatic preset generator.

Ignoring 95% of what it can do in the process.  Again, it's purpose is really all about giving people the ability to construct dynamic 'art strategies' or 'art processes'. 

In the process giving the artist an ability to create dynamic art shows. 

Art shows that are happening in real time. Where the output is always changing, evolving, transforming. Gallery exhibitions that could actually be installed in a physical art gallery if someone wanted to.  A dynamically generated art show, as opposed to just playing back a slide show of pre-rendered work, or a pre-rendered movie

The design of Gallery Show also gives an artist the ability to automatically create a lot of different rendered images using the specific art strategy the artist built up inside of Gallery Show. 

That they could then sift through later, looking for good output to keep, and throwing away anything they considered junk or flawed or washed out, etc.

And once you have that functionality, it's pretty easy to just use it as a batch processor if you want to, or as a way to help visualize what a category of presets does to a set of different source images, or as a way to automatically generate new presets, etc, etc.

You can use it in a lot of different ways.

I'm really not interested in dumbing down Gallery Show. Or changing the name to make it more obvious you can automatically generate presets in it while obscuring most of it's functionality.

But i'm totally up for adding a new control panel to make it easier for users to access all of the fun automatic preset generation features stuff i talked about above. 

And i wanted to open up a discussion for people to suggest additional new automatic preset generation features they would like us to add.

As well as to suggest new MetaEdit features they would like to see us add.

And the MetaEdit part is really what i'm most interested in hearing your ideas about.

Here is what i would like to know:

In an ideal world, how would you go about describing new art tools you would want to use. And how would you go about describing editing changes you would like to make to those presets.

Now there are probably differences in how you would go about defining things depending on whether its is a paint preset or an effect preset that processes the entire image at once, like an image op effect.  So hopefully we can get into that.

Usually when we say 'ideal world', people suggest all kinds of wild stuff and then we all say, 'if only', and we then move on and forget about it. But we live in interesting times. And our ability to construct adaptive intelligent software is enhanced these days by relatively easy access to all kinds of very powerful learning algorithms. So suggestions that we would have rolled our eyes at in the past might be feasible these days using things like deep learning neural networks and intelligent visual modeling.

We've been spending a lot of time looking a how to incorporate neural nets into Studio Artist. Focusing mostly on algorithms that process images.  Either as an effect, or to generate visual attributes that we then use to modulate other things in the program.

But i think there is a unique opportunity right now to dive into more sophisticated approaches to preset generation and preset manipulation. And this new high level preset generation and editing control panel is the right place to do it.

I have some ideas about all of this.  How to proceed. But i don't want to contaminate the discussion yet by pushing it in a certain direction. I really want to hear peoples thoughts and wished about this.

So how would you like to manipulate presets if you could do it in a more high level conceptual way?

I'm asking this question now because i'm working out the specs for this new control panel module. It's on our feature list, and it will soon be coded up (the first pass at it, i fully expect it to expand over time). You have a very unique opportunity to directly influence it's design, to influence what i'm doing with this new control module before it's final form gets cast into stone (c++ code being the stone in this particular example).

So suggest away.

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Wow, talk about pulling a thread and unraveling the whole cloth…

Not sure you want to go there/here because it all runs uphill to the high-level functions within SA coupled with the individual’s approach to crafting or not crafting a painting strategy.

Anyway I’ve attached a couple of sketches I knocked out eons ago when I was discussing the whole GUI thing with you guys.

I really, really don’t think we need another panel(:-)) in Studio Artist. You surely have enough of them by now. But, if I were going to do it I would use some kind of operations bar like in Sketch #1 and incorporate new preset macro adjustments there. The idea being not to totally re-write the GUI experience or to change Studio Artist but to make it a bit more visually functional and structured; and obvious to the user.

Your existing side panels, etc. could remain and the loss of screen real estate would be negligible.

I personally do not automate much in Studio Artist so MSG and Paseq aren’t my thing. (To understand and use them I would like to see additional tips, videos, or perhaps a couple of webinars, with the pro users, that really dig deep into them.)

I do however like and use the Metaedit stuff. Moving it out of the Help sidebar would be a plus. I could see it integrating into an upper level Ops bar like I suggested.

I spend too much time bouncing between panels to edit/create/modify paint patches/brushes. It’s fun but annoying in some ways. Many functions that are similar or reinforce each other are in separate panels and are not always obviously related.

I would love to see a visual flowchart/pipeline that lays out all the interrelations of what affects what within SA. That would help me to better plan a strategy using MSG or Paseqs.

The great thing about Studio Artist is that it accommodates so many different approaches to creating art. Each of us will have a different approach. Each will have a different need.

If I missed the mark here and went off target I apologize, but it’s all pipes and it’s all connected.



Thanks for the sketches. I will think about the points you are making.

We do have a new tool bar we're working on for the next release. That maybe already addresses some of the things you want.

MSG is just a modular way to create visual effects and imagery. Could be image processing effects, could be procedural image generators, texture generators, etc. 

There are things you can do to modulate editable parameters in MSG effects. Parameters associated with the different processor modules that make up the MSG effect.

And you can modulate over time, so if you do that then you would be building up an animation from the time modulated MSG effect.

But you don't have to do that. Most of the time i use MSG to create static imagery. So you should definitely check it out.  

You can tab dock side control panels.  So if you want to work with several different palettes that are tab docked together, you don't have to lose any more screen real estate then you would if you were using just a single one.

Here's my current setup in Studio Artist.

Just started using the Paint Preset Mixer so I docked it above the Help panel with the Meta Edit commands that I like to use. The Mixer is pretty cool but without some way to reference your location (like a light grid overlay) it came be hit or miss especially if you're attempting to recreate a new preset you forgot to save and export or tweaking slightly between extremes.

This setup gives me quick access to the editor as I am always tweaking transparency, blending, paint color source and paint fill setup.

I also bounce around in the source area switching from source to color to palette (creating palettes from sources). Kinda wish the wheel and picker were bigger.

Would also like to have the option to have 2 sources open at once and the ability to switch between them on the fly. And the ability to map selected parts of the source to different areas of the canvas but we'll save that for another day!

I'll put my lazy, comfortable, self-satisfied, self aside and dig a little deeper into MSG. Thanks for the tips.


So 2 Sources at once (back and forth). There are some different approaches you could try.

Approach #1:

A simple thing to do is to use the File : Recent Source menu (and associated sub menus).

Open image#1 as the Source.

Then Open image#2 as the Source.

They both now have associated sub menus in the Recent Source menu.

Then use their associated sub menus in File : Recent Source to go back and forth between opening them as the Source.

Approach #2:

A different approach involves using Source Context action steps recorded in a PASeq.

So in this case, you are just using the PASeq to provide access to running 2 different Source Context action steps, each of which references one of your 2 different source images.

For example, you could record them in a PASeq as different keyframes for a single action step, and then press the different keyframes associated with the individual recorded source contexts in the timeline when you want to switch the loaded Source.

Source Context action steps record a reference to a source image. Not the actual image pixel information. When they play, they set the Source to the recorded reference image (which is on your hard disk somewhere, not inside of the Source Context).

If you want to switch source images while working with a PASeq, then you could record the Source Contexts in a History Sequence, and then play them back from there without mucking up whatever PASeq preset you are working with.

Here's a tip on PASeq Context Action Steps.

You can actually map a specified specific location in the source image to a specific specified location in the canvas. You can work with different tracking options in the Paint Source Offset control panel of the paint synthesizer.

We're working on some things to make it easier to use this somewhat hidden existing feature.

I usually always dock the preset browser and the editor in one stack. Then i use the cmnd g command key menu to switch back and forth between the Preset Browser and the Editor.

Same thing with help Browser on the right side, i usually stack dock it with other things over there.

I like tabbed stacks because it frees up screen space.

Cool you are using the Preset Mixer. We're probably going to drop it into the new High Level Preset Adjustment panel i first discussed in this forum post. So it will live inside of there in the future.


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