Category Archives: creativity & art

Speeding Up Beauty Box Video

We’ve come along way from Beauty Box Video 1.0, which was pretty slow. It’s now as fast as any other solution out there, and BB still offers the easiest and highest quality way of doing retouching for HD, 4K, and film. That said, it still requires a render and there are various things that can slow it down. It can really slow FCP X down if FCP isn’t configured correctly.

What should you expect speed-wise from Beauty Box?

A minute of HD video should take from 3-10 minutes to render out on a reasonably fast machine. So let’s discuss how to get those faster speeds. If you have a fast video card (say, the Nvidia 680 in an iMac) and are seeing really slow speeds, make sure you read to the end were we discuss the configuration file BB uses.

After Effects: Beauty Box will render faster in AE than any other host app. This is primarily because of how AE handles multiprocessing. It’s far better than any of the video editing apps. It requires a fair amount of RAM to really take advantage of, but it can run very fast. If it’s possible, we recommend doing the Beauty Box pass in AE, and then bring the intermediary file into your editing app to cut.

Final Cut Pro 7 & X: If you’re using FCP X, turn off background rendering. Background rendering works great with basic filters, but when you have something that’s render intensive like Beauty Box background rendering will bring FCP X to it’s knees. Also, turn off scrubbing. FCP will start caching frames and, again, start rendering multiple frames in the background which will really make FCP sluggish. Generally, we recommend either applying BB first, and then turning it off as you’re editing, OR applying it last. Applying it last is the preferred way. You can take your edit, create a compound clip, and then apply Beauty Box to the compound clip. In FCP 7, a compound clip is called ‘Nest’.

Premiere Pro: Similar in some respects to what happens in Final Cut Pro. It’s not a real-time effects, so it’ll prevent the Mercury engine from rendering in real-time. So, again, you want to apply Beauty Box either before you start editing (and turn it off while you edit) or apply it as the last step after editing and color correction (recommended).

Video Cards: Beauty Box is accelerated using OpenCL. This means it’ll get a massive speed boost from newer Nvidia and AMD video cards. In practice, this speed boost can vary quite a bit. We’ve run into more problems with AMD cards than Nvidia, so we recommend Nvidia cards if possible. Although, usually AMD cards are fine, so it’s not a huge deal. It does tend to be a bit more of a problem on the Mac where Apple creates the drivers. The AMD drivers tend to be more problematic than Nvidia’s. Regardless of which video card you have, we recommend getting the most recent Mac OS (and staying current with updates). Apple rolls driver fixes into the latest OS, so if you’re using an older OS, it’s potentially a problem. If you’re on Windows, you can just download the latest drivers, so it’s less of an issue.

What video card to get?

We still like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 as being the best price/performance option out there. For video applications, the Quadro cards don’t offer a lot of benefits. They tend to be slower and you’re paying for features that are more applicable to engineering/3D apps. If you do a lot of 3D work, the Quadro might be a better choice (I don’t do much 3D, so I can’t comment on that). The newer GeForce cards like the GTX 680 and GTX Titan are great, but don’t necessarily offer the speed boost to justify the extra cost. They are faster, so if you’re looking for the absolute fastest card then the Titan or GTX 690 is a great choice. Both cards require a ton of power, so make sure you’ve got a small nuclear power plant as your power supply.

OpenCL Configuration File

Beauty Box creates a special configuration file for the video cards in your system. This makes a file that you can send us that helps us troubleshoot any problems and it also keeps track of whether a given video card is crashing when used with BB. If the video card is always crashing this is a good thing. However, sometimes you’ll have a random one-off crash and BB will disable OpenCL. This will cause a dramatic slowdown in rendering. The solution is to delete the configuration file. BB will then recreate a default file next time it starts and rendering speeds will be back to normal. But you need to know where it is to delete it, so here are the locations:

Windows: Documents\Digital Anarchy\DA_OpenCL_Devices.txt

Mac: Users\Shared\Digital Anarchy\DA_OpenCL_Devices.txt

Happy rendering… :-)

The Unreal World of Retouching

I always find it interesting why creative directors feel it necessary to retouch certain images. A great collection of photos showing before/after retouching are below. Some obviously need it, like 50-something Madonna trying to look like a twenty-something. However, shots like the Jennifer Lawrence example are something of a mystery. Beautiful woman with a great body made to look rail thin, for no real good reason… other than the anorexic look is what everyone aspires to. Sad. Here’s a link to all the images (the two mentioned are below, but there are a couple dozen on the Imgur page):

Before and after photoshop

madonna retouched

Photo Manipulation, Contests, and Getting Disqualified

Good article here about how the photo that would have won the National Geographic photo of the year, got disqualified because the photographer used Photoshop to get rid of a trash bag instead of cropping it.

If you’re going to enter contests it’s a good thing to read the rules, but it’s almost a certainty that if you bust out the clone tool or use Content-aware Fill you are going to be disqualified. Obviously if it’s a photo manipulation contest that’s different, but most photography contests want you to do everything in camera, limiting adjustments to minor tweaks like cropping and contrast, things that were relatively easy to do in the darkroom days.

While you might argue what’s the difference between cloning a trash bag out of the photo and cropping it, it’s a very slippery slope. It rapidly becomes more about your Photoshop skills and less about your photography skills. If it’s a photography contest, then it should be about your photography skills.

Here’s the disqualified image, click on it to read the full article and see the original.

disqualifed Photoshopped photo