Introducing the Viewer


The Viewer is where you see the results of your editing and compositing. It's also where you'll make many of your compositing decisions, adjusting layers and masks directly instead of using the Controls panel. The Viewer is linked to your currently active timeline. The Viewer's contents and available tools will vary depending on your chosen timeline.

Viewer

Playback Controls

Along the bottom of the Viewer are the playback controls.

Loop Playback loop@2x

When activated, playback will loop once the playhead reaches the end of the timeline or the end of the work area.

The work area can be defined using the Set In and Out point buttons with the playhead at the desired frames. This can be particularly useful for looping playback around a specific cut or visual effects sequence.

Set In and Out Points frame-in@2xframe-out@2x

The in and out points set the work area. This region of the timeline is used when looping playback and when exporting your project. This makes it easy to export specific sections of a project, rather than entire timelines.

Playhead Control frame-first@2xframe-previous@2x frame-next@2xplay@2x

The timeline playhead determines which frame is displayed in the viewer. The playhead can be controlled from the Viewer.

frame-first@2x Move playhead to start instantly jumps the playhead to the beginning of the timeline. You can also press the Home key.
frame-previous@2x frame-next@2x Previous and Next frame buttons move the playhead by a single frame.
play@2x The Play button plays the timeline forwards. Realtime playback may not be possible, depending on the complexity of the timeline. Realtime playback can be achieved using the RAM preview or proxy features.

Playback can also be controlled using the standard keyboard shortcuts J, K and L.

J plays backwards. Pressing J repeatedly will double the playback speed.
K stops playback.
L plays forwards. Pressing L repeatedly will double the playback speed.

RAM Preview play-ram@2x

System memory can be used to preview a section of your timeline in realtime, even if there are complex effects.

Clicking the preview button will begin rendering from the playhead's position and will carry on until the RAM allocation is filled or you click elsewhere in the interface to stop the previewing.

You can then playback the previewed frames or scrub the playhead in realtime.

The memory allocated for RAM previewing can be adjusted in Options.

Time Displays

To either side of the Viewer are time displays.

On the left the current time is shown, based on the position of your playhead.

On the right the total duration of your current timeline is shown.

You can set each separately to display as a timecode (in the format Hours:Minutes:Seconds:Frames) or as a framecount by right clicking and selecting from the menu.

Viewer Playhead & Duration Bar

The duration bar represents the total duration of your currently selected timeline.

The lighter gray area shows your work area, which you can change using the In and Out controls.

When a RAM Preview has been rendered, the area that is currently stored in RAM will be represented in blue.

By dragging the vertical white bar you can move the playhead around your timeline. This is particularly useful if your timeline is currently zoomed in to a specific area, as you can watch another part of the timeline without having to move or scale your track or layer view.

Viewer Tools

At the top-left of the Viewer are several tools.

Select pointer@2x

The Select tool is used for interacting with layers and effects on the Viewer. With the Select tool active you can select and transform layers and move position points.

Hand hand@2x

This pans the view around the Viewer. This is useful if your content does not fit into the Viewer panel, such as when you are zoomed in or are working in HD on lower resolution monitors.

When the Hand tool is active you will not be able to interact with layers or effects. As an alternative to selecting the hand tool, you can click and hold the right mouse button while the cursor is over the viewer, then drag to reposition the view within the viewer panel.

The following Viewer tools are only available if you are working in a Composite Shot timeline.

Text font@2x

Used to create or edit text layers. Double-clicking the Text tool will create a new text layer and display the text properties window, where you can specify the size of the layer. If you select the Text tool by clicking it once, you can then click and drag to draw a text box directly in the Viewer.

Text can only be created in a composite shot timeline. To edit the contents of any text layer, first select the Text tool.

See Text layers for more information.

Mask Shapes mask-circle@2x mask-square@2xpen@2x

Masks are used to specify areas of a layer to remove or retain. Layers can include multiple masks.

There are three mask tools: ellipse, rectangle and freehand. These are used to draw masks for your layers.

See Masks for details.

Orbit camera-orbit@2x

When you're working in 3D the orbit tool can be used to orbit the camera or view around wherever you click or a specific selected layer. You can switch between the two orbit modes by holding down on the Orbit button to display the menu.

For more information see Working in 3D.

Viewer Display Options

The Viewer can be customized to display specific information.

The Viewer can be scaled using the Scale menu to the bottom-right. When the content of the Viewer is too large to fit into the interface you can pan around the view by right clicking and dragging on the view or using the Hand tool. The Scale To Fit option is most useful, as it will auto-scale the viewer to fit into whatever space you have available, allowing you to see the entire frame. The 100% view option is useful for seeing exactly what your frame will look like at actual size. You can also adjust the scale using the scroll wheel on your mouse.

At the bottom-left of the Viewer are several icons for turning 3D rendering features on and off. See Working in 3D for more details.

There are several menus along the top of the Viewer.

For information on the View and alignment menus see Working in 3D.

Channels

The channels menu switches the Viewer between different color and alpha channels.

RGB: The full rendered output. This is what is exported.
RGB Straight: All RGB color channels without alpha transparency. Note that fully transparent areas may be displayed with unexpected coloring.
Alpha: Only the alpha (transparency) channel. White areas represent fully opaque and black areas represent fully transparent. Very useful for checking mattes during compositing.
Red/Green/Blue: Shows only the selected color channel.

Quality

Antialiased: Renders at full resolution with anti-aliasing for smooth edges. The antialiasing method can be adjusted on the project screen.
Full/Half/Quarter: Renders at specific resolutions. Lower resolutions increase performance. Note that this only affects the rendering in the Viewer, and final exports will always be at maximum quality.

These quality settings also affect 3D model textures, which are automatically downsampled by the specific amount. For example, 4K textures will be downscaled to 2K when the Viewer is set to Half quality. This can be used in combination with the Options (see below) to manage performance even when working on complex shots.

Options

The Options menu turns various rendering features on and off. Note that these options do not affect the export render; they only have an impact in the Viewer. You can optimize playback of your media through the new Playback options in HitFilm Pro. Settings for playback and pause are separated, so you can select a high Quality Profile for use when the timeline is paused, then use a lower Quality Profile during playback, to ensure smooth movement. You can set up four specific Quality Profiles with your own preferences of what features are included, from the Quality Profile tab of the Options screen, and select from four Resolution options, from Antialiased to Quarter. Then you can assign Playback and Pause to use any of these four options. The specific options  are detailed below.

Playback Quality

You can set up four quality profiles in HitFilm, for use with video playback and paused images in the software. These options only affect playback within the program, and will not affect exported files. Each profile can store a separate set of viewer option settings, so you can quickly switch between Final, Draft, Quick, and Fastest.

The options for each profile can be edited by opening the File menu, clicking the Options button, and then selecting the Quality Profiles tab. These profiles are used for both Playback Quality and Paused Quality. The defaults are listed below, but you can customize all four profiles however you prefer.In this tab, there are 6 options you can turn on or off for each of the four profiles. The defaults are listed below, but you can customize all four profiles however you prefer.        

2D Effects: Toggles rendering of 2D effects on and off. By default, this option is enabled in Final, Draft, and Quick modes.
Lights: Toggles rendering of 3D Lights on and off. By default, this option is enabled in Final and Draft modes.
Shadows: Toggles rendering of 3D Shadows on and off. By default, this option is enabled in Final and Draft modes.
Reflections: Toggles rendering of Reflections on and off. By default, this option is only enabled in Final mode.
Motion Blur: Toggles rendering of Motion blur on and off. By default, this option is only enabled in Final mode.
Depth of Field: Toggles rendering of Depth of Field on and off. By default, this option is only enabled in Final mode.

Playback Resolution

Adjusting the resolution can dramatically affect performance speed. Changing Playback Resolution will only affect playback within the program, and will not affect exported files. The setting you choose here determines the resolution at which the source media is sampled and processed, before being displayed in the Viewer. For example, selecting Half resolution reduces both the vertical and horizontal resolution by half, and effectively reduces the processing required for each frame by 75%. This can dramatically speed up performance.

Antialiased: Processes the video at full resolution and applies the antialias settings you have selected in your Project screen. This settings gives maximum quality, and the longest processing times.
Full: Processes the image at full resolution, but does not apply antialiasing. Quality is still high, but some stair-stepping may be visible along diagonal lines.
Half: Reduces horizontal and vertical resolution of the source media by half before it is processed, resulting in faster performance.
Quarter: Reduces horizontal and vertical resolution of the source media to ¼ of its original value before it is processed, resulting in reduced visual quality and faster performance.

Paused Quality

You can assign your video to use a different quality profile when paused than it uses during playback.Typically you will waht the Paused Quality set higher, so you can view a high quality image while editing, but reduce the processing load during playback.

The options for each profile can be edited by opening the File menu, clicking the Options button, and then selecting the Quality Profiles tab. In this tab, there are 6 options you can turn on or off for each of the four profiles. These profiles are used for both Playback Quality and Paused Quality. The defaults are listed below, but you can customize all four profiles however you prefer.

2D Effects: Toggles rendering of 2D effects on and off. By default, this option is enabled in Final, Draft, and Quick modes.
Lights: Toggles rendering of 3D Lights on and off. By default, this option is enabled in Final and Draft modes.
Shadows: Toggles rendering of 3D Shadows on and off. By default, this option is enabled in Final and Draft modes.
Reflections: Toggles rendering of Reflections on and off. By default, this option is only enabled in Final mode.
Motion Blur: Toggles rendering of Motion blur on and off. By default, this option is only enabled in Final mode.
Depth of Field: Toggles rendering of Depth of Field on and off. By default, this option is only enabled in Final mode.

Paused Resolution

Adjusting the resolution can dramatically affect performance speed, but it also determines the accuracy of the rendering displayed on the Viewer. Paused Resolution only affects the image displayed within the program when the timeline is paused, and will not affect playback, or exported files. The setting you choose here determines the resolution at which the source media is sampled and processed, before being displayed in the Viewer. For example, selecting Half resolution reduces both the vertical and horizontal resolution by half, and effectively reduces the processing required for each frame by 75%. This can dramatically speed up performance. In most cases, Antialiased or Full will be preferred.

Antialiased: Processes the video at full resolution and applies the antialias settings you have selected in your Project screen. This settings gives maximum quality, and the longest processing times.
Full: Processes the image at full resolution, but does not apply antialiasing. Quality is still high, but some stair-stepping may be visible along diagonal lines.
Half: Reduces horizontal and vertical resolution of the source media by half before it is processed, resulting in faster performance.
Quarter: Reduces horizontal and vertical resolution of the source media to ¼ of its original value before it is processed, resulting in reduced visual quality and faster performance.

 

 

Floor Plane: Turns the 3D reference grid on and off. This option will only be present on Composite Shot timelines.
Show Motion Path: Animated layers display a line representing the movement over time. This can be turned on and off.
Background Color: The Viewer usually renders a black background. This can be changed to a different color, which can be useful during compositing to ensure you do not have any 'holes' in your scenery.
Checkerboard Background: in 2D views this is on by default. A checkerboard pattern is displayed in transparent areas of the frame. This pattern is not visible when you Export, but can be used in the Viewer to identify transparent areas of the frame which would otherwise be hard to spot.
Full Screen Preview: Toggles the Full screen preview on and off. You must select a screen in the Set Screen menu below first, so HitFilm knows which screen to display the Full Screen Preview on.
Set Screen: This menu shows all available displays on your system, so you can choose the one to be used for the Full Screen Preview.
Export Frame: saves a high quality PNG of the current frame.