Photo Reactor

Upcoming mother of all image editors

Photo Reactor

Postby Oscar » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:28 am

This is upcoming, but long planned "mother of all image editors". It began as a project to satisfy my own needs as it is often very time consuming to refine or discover new imaging process but it is growing rapidly into a very large software.

With normal editing software the paradigm is linear - you add effect, then another after another and the way to better organize your workflow is using layers. And layers are another linear feature - everything is on top of another in one big tall pile. If you like some processing then you can create macro - which is again one dimensional way of repeating steps one after another.

What if you can have unlimited layers and effects that also go sideways, not in one big pile? What if every single effect or adjustment can be re-adjusted at any time without going back? What if you can easily reorder the effects or remove or add new effect at any place and time? What if you can group effects into new super-effect, add your own controls and then use it in your next projects as one of the other effect without repeating everything? And what if you can apply all this on any image with a single click?

Photo Reactor uses nodal editing principle which gives you a birdseye view over your whole editing imeline. Effects could be simply plugged or reordered and new effects can be created by grouping old ones. Various Images can be blended together which can create unlimited "layers". And all is completely in real-time using drag and drop.

So here is some explanation for people who are not familiar with the concept.
Let's just adjust image levels and then sharpen it. In Reactor it looks like this:
reaktor1a.jpg (16.59 KiB) Viewed 17670 times

It is pretty simple and obvious task. The great thing is that I can simply drop new effect before or in between the effects without going Undo or without a need to create layers. So I can just drop in Curves.
reaktor1b.jpg (19.02 KiB) Viewed 17670 times

I can adjust any of the parameters all the time, I can add, disconnect or reorder things. Now let's make things complicated. How about I want the image after Levels to Blur, but then combine that blur with the image after the unsharp filter with screen blending? In normal editor this would already require some clever use of layers and duplicating the image and we will end up with a static result - that is if it is not what we wanted or we just need to readjust some values - for example the blur we would have to undo the project back.
Not in reactor. The project is right there and you can turn any of the knobs and settings of any of the module and immediately see the result - without any waiting!
reaktor1c.jpg (27.83 KiB) Viewed 17670 times

All parameters are accessible right away, just select any object and you see its settings that you can change, the image at that step (left side) and the final output (right side). turing any of the knobs will give you immediate result.
reaktor2a.jpg (164.46 KiB) Viewed 17669 times

Now you may say, it is a cool effect and I would really like to have easy access mostly to the blur radius without much of the other fulff - so here let's just pull the blur parameter out on the workplace.
reaktor1d.jpg (33.93 KiB) Viewed 17669 times

And you can change the value right on the workplace.
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Re: Node Based editor

Postby Oscar » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:55 pm

Now how about I like this effect so I want to keep it as a permanent effect. To do so I can drop pins to make the new object easy connectable. One on each side.
reaktor2b.jpg (20.43 KiB) Viewed 17669 times

Just select the objects and right click - select Group.
reaktor2c.jpg (96.51 KiB) Viewed 17669 times

Groups are already a nice self contained super-objects. You can move it around, minimize it and connect as a single object and save it to library.
reaktor2d.jpg (13.41 KiB) Viewed 17669 times

Groups are still transparent to editing and "open", you can select inside objects, move them, change parameters or even connect some outside object right in the middle of it.
You can however completely wrap the group to a closed locked box called a Device if you want to have effect that is "finite". It is not necessary step, but a nice thing to wrap effects for future.
reaktor2e.jpg (27.4 KiB) Viewed 17669 times

Device will hide all wires and expose only pins and any UI object that can be controlled from the workplace. In this case it is Curves and Knob. The analogy is like making a small electronics device and putting the controls on the top face-plate and hiding all the wires and mess inside the box. The box is a bit big right now but we can select Edit Inside and then use make Circuit.
reaktor2f.jpg (51.77 KiB) Viewed 17669 times

This will place all non UI elements on a virtual circuit board as an single object. Now just move the UI components around Rename the pins and go to back to main editing. You have a Device. As a bonus you can customize the face plate with any of your image.
Now simply add it to the library and there it is, your own new effect that creates a dreamy look. The device is just a single file that you can share with others, it is self contained effect.
reaktor2g.jpg (105.61 KiB) Viewed 17669 times

From now on you use the new effect as any other object, just drag it on the canvas. Connect it to more complex workflows without much regard what is inside.
reaktor2h.jpg (135.9 KiB) Viewed 17669 times

I got a bit overboard with the screen, I just added bunch of stuff.
It would be probably much better to wrap things that go together into groups, pull out only necessary parameters - well practically the same thing we did when making the first device, but now the device is part of a much larger workflow.
On the workspace you can name connections, create pins and put text labels. Also there are instruments like monitors and vector/wavescopes that can be placed anywhere.
Unlike normal editing where the pile of layers become a deep secret on its own after a while, with Reaktor, the editing is always in front of you and all is always editable.
It is all dynamic and all it is also a "macro" without doing anything else. By clicking or loading any other image, the whole flow will be applied to it. Similarly you could just apply it to a bunch of files.
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Re: Node Based editor

Postby Oscar » Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:48 pm

Here is a little scheme for creating orton effect.
reaktor.jpg (157.16 KiB) Viewed 17723 times

By just looking at it you can recreate it in photoshop or similar. But the beauty of reaktor is that I can simply warp it up and save as a new object. This way you can make a huge library of your own effects and also share it with others.

The software is in half alfa stage - that is, everything shown here is fully functional, it is not just screenshots
The plan (but not necessary for first release):
- add every standard image effect to the library of primitives so they can be used as building blocks
- make way for a plug-in dll with simple interface so developers can easily add things
- make a scriptable object
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Re: Photo Reactor

Postby lylejk » Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:36 pm

As I mentioned at your thread at DAP, node editing is the future of editing imo. Both self-documenting (hate the term lossless) and your presets can be re-useable if you so choose. Fantastic stuff Oscar. Now, if you can add the ability to execute PS plugins to it, that would be an added bonus. Look forward to seeing your project blossum. Going to PM you some additional things. :)
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Re: Photo Reactor

Postby Oscar » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:17 pm

Working in CMYK, Lab or HSV/HSL is an easy task:, you just place a decompose/compose objects on the flow. The system figures out everything.
Here is a simple way of changing curves of hue and saturation - a bit unusual for sure, but simply done.
hsl.jpg (16.25 KiB) Viewed 17598 times

What we done with curves is to shift sky and boost low saturation.
hsl2.jpg (100.43 KiB) Viewed 17598 times

This is a very simple example, but with the splitter and merge objects we can dig much deeper. Here is an example of converting to Lab colors, splitting channels and now we can adjust each channel separately. I am just attacking the a and b channels with curves and then blurring them to give a color smear look.
labcolors.jpg (30.93 KiB) Viewed 17598 times

This is normally a bit hard to follow in linear editors as the changes to the non RGB channels give unpredictable result, but with reactor it is very easy to turn the sliders and to see immediate change and to rearrange things for more experiments.
labcolors2.jpg (43.46 KiB) Viewed 17598 times

It is also extremely easy to see the effect on any other image, just click on the Quick Access bar on bottom and within second you see it applied to any other image.
labcolors3.jpg (74.27 KiB) Viewed 17598 times
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Re: Photo Reactor

Postby elivarz » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:27 am

Effect Forge
Effect Mistress/Commander
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Re: Photo Reactor

Postby Oscar » Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:09 am

Here is an example of more complicated workflow. It really shows the strength of the software. It would be a little nightmare in normal editing software to experiment with different values for all the steps as you would need to go back and forth, but in reactor, this is breeze.And it is amazingly fast, from changing any of the values to see the result in preview: 390ms - less than half sec.

duotone5.jpg (195.6 KiB) Viewed 17520 times
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Re: Photo Reactor

Postby Oscar » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:13 pm

Here is some toying with shock filters
reaktor4.jpg (215.43 KiB) Viewed 17453 times

Here is the large result
reaktor4b.jpg (143.11 KiB) Viewed 17453 times
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Re: Photo Reactor

Postby mariarti » Mon Apr 08, 2013 6:57 am


How soon can we try this fantastic atomic Photo Reactor?
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Re: Photo Reactor

Postby Vapymid » Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:59 pm

This looks very, very interesting.

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