View Full Version : Transparent Background in LW 8.5 Layout

05-10-2006, 07:48 AM
First, I'd like to say hello to everyone out there in LW World. I hope this is the start of a beautiful and fruitful relationship. Now to my question.

I've built a 3D logo in LW8.5 for a potential client who does video production. As I am animating the logo in Layout, I need the bakground to be transparent, so when I give the finished animation to him in mov file format, he has a mac and I a PC, he can overlay my animated logo over the top of his existing video.

Any info will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks! THREEL

05-10-2006, 08:05 AM
Your best choice would be to render to a format like tga or png that supports alpha channels- that way your animation could be overlaid easily. I'm not sure that MOV supports alpha- or how accessible it might be to your clients editing package.

05-10-2006, 08:19 AM
I agree - rendering out to a 32-bit image format, such as tiff or tga (I like tga), allows for the render to mask the background from the 3D . I'm not sure about any video format that supports alpha, so I'd suggest you render to an image sequence. Not only is the quality better (because it's uncompressed frames), but the sequences allow for more flexibility at the post-processing stage. I would suspect if your client wants to overlay your animation, than he has some sort of video editing or compositing program. The image sequence can always be imported as a video sequence and compiled to a video file later. Hope that helps a little...:thumbsup:

05-10-2006, 09:51 PM
It's so cool to get responses in such a short period of time. Sometimes, when you call tech support, it seems like you're on the phone forever, if you get through at all. I'll give these ideas a try and see what happens.

Thanks!!! THREEL

05-11-2006, 10:53 AM
If I uderstand you right, there are some softwares out there that can use just a solid color background for such operations. Adobe Premiere Pro is a good example of one.

05-11-2006, 01:23 PM
Actually, I'm looking for a way to Alpha channel the background out, so when my animation is composited with my client's video, my animation will be on top without the background so you can see his video underneath. My client uses media100pro, or something like that, on a MAC (Quicktime, MOV). I'm on a PC, but I can create animations in the MOV format. I can make the background a chromakey green color, sort of a green screen thing, but my client wants to by-pass that step if we can. There is an Alpha Channel save under rendering options that I'm going to look at, so we'll see.

Thanks for the info! THREEL

05-11-2006, 05:02 PM
My clients usually don't want sequences, it tends to annoy editors. Your best bet is to find out what system they're using and give them a Quicktime file with an alpha channel. If they're on Avids, use the Avid Meridian codec, make sure you're at 720x486 with pixel .9 (it's a preset in the camera properties panel). If they're using Final Cut, use the DVCPro settings (720x480) and the corresponding codec. Just make sure you're using millions of colors+ alpha, and their software will do the rest. Hope this helps --

05-11-2006, 10:57 PM
Thanks for the info exit6, but can you tell me what I should use for Media 100. That's what my client has, and it's on a MAC. I have a PC, but the Quicktime file should translate between the 2 platforms. Also, do you save the alpha channel as individual frames, or will it save with the whole animation. I rendered a single frame with the logo on a plain black background as a JPEG file and its Alpha channel. All I got for the Alpha channel render was the logo in all white on a black background. Thanks for all your Help!

05-11-2006, 11:20 PM
I haven't had a client on the Media100 for a while, but I poked around on their website and it looks like they use their own codec. Here's a link: http://support.media100.com/KBSearch/kbDocument.aspx?id=379 It should work. Most of these systems will be able to take multiple codecs, the thing is if you use the wrong one it will take a long time to import, and one thing clients hate is waiting! Especially for you! So download the Media 100 Codec and use it. Most of us on the LW forums agree that the best way to work is to export sequences, that way you have 100% quality. Then take your sequence and convert it. Back when I started with my current set of clients we went through a trial and error period and figured out what worked for their particular system, that's probably what you'll have to do. But believe me if your best guess (Media100 Codec) is right, and the file loads really fast, the client will think you're a pro and be psyched. Good luck --

05-11-2006, 11:29 PM
Thanks for the info exit6, but can you tell me what I should use for Media 100. That's what my client has, and it's on a MAC. I have a PC, but the Quicktime file should translate between the 2 platforms. Also, do you save the alpha channel as individual frames, or will it save with the whole animation. I rendered a single frame with the logo on a plain black background as a JPEG file and its Alpha channel. All I got for the Alpha channel render was the logo in all white on a black background. Thanks for all your Help!
That black and white image you saw was the alpha channel data, it looks like a mask it tells the program what it can show and what should be hidden. Jpg by it self does not have an alpha channel. But it is possible to render the color data (jpg) and a seperate alpha channel (black and white) like you did. However, as a sequence, rendering them seperate is not required unless the program you want to send it to needs them to be seperate (or thats what you are use to).
Any format that is 32 bit or higher will save the alpha data with the color in a single file. So tga32, psd32 and tiff32 are all good canidates for single files with an alpha.
Now for the quicktime file, It is best to render as a sequence for your own use. Then when a customer requests an avi, mov etc. you can import the sequence into lightwave and quickly render out your mov file. Now to get an alpha, change the codec to a codec that compressor has a plus symbol after it. For example animation is a codec that saves the video with an alpha, as the compressor has an option for millions of colors+. Doing so does not require a seperate alpha sequence.
I think what may be so confusing, is that the avi and mov animations are grouped with the sequence animations. They are two seperate things. Anything you add for a sequence will not be added to a avi or mov file. So to get an alpha, it has to be done where you change the codec.

05-12-2006, 12:01 AM
Thanks silk! I'll give it a try and let you know if I got it right. It might be a couple of days before I get back to you though. To many irons in the fire.
Know what I mean?!

Thanks again!

05-12-2006, 08:23 AM
Thanks exit6, or do you go by sleepless. I'll go to the site you suggested and see what I can come up with. One other question though. Should I use a plain black background, or do I want another color. I tried green and blue backgrounds for geen and blue screen chromakeys, then I took it into my video editing package, just a low end Pinnacle Studio 10 plus. When I composited these with other video clips, it made the background transparent, but the logo had some funky color mixtures around the outer edge.

Thanks! THREEL

05-12-2006, 09:02 AM

are you rendering a .tif image sequence? I deal with this fairly often because I like rendering my backgrounds seperately and compositing them in premiere pro post production. A .tif will leave out the background data so it is not necessary to set the background to a certain color and matte it out. Forgive me if this solution has already been suggested, I didn't read the rest of the responses.

05-12-2006, 07:27 PM
Hello ViolentCaustics,

I'm willing to look at any suggestions. I just want to find a solution, and it's great to see all of these positive responses in such a short period of time. Something that's hard to come by when using tech support over the phone, if you ever get through. I'll let everone know how things turn out, but it'll probably be late next week before I get a response from my client.

Thanks a bunch! THREEL

05-13-2006, 10:35 PM
Just wanted to give a big thanks to all my fellow Lightwavers out there, who gave me great advice for my tranparent background in layout issue. What I ended up doing is saving individual frames as 32-bit .tif files, and then brought these files back into a clear scene as a sequence, using the sequence as a background. From there it's just a quick re-render to save as an animation file, I'm using .mov for my client. I know the .tif files work for sure, because I imported them into my video editing package and overlaid them on top of a video clip and the animation's background was transparent. I don't know if the .mov file works yet, because my video editing package doesn't import .mov files. I do have one more question, though. exit6 suggested that I download the codec for media 100, the editing software my client operates. I have the .zip file for this codec, but I would like to know what directory I should install this codec to, so Lightwave 8.5 will recognize it right away. I did a search for codecs on my PC, and they seem to be in many different locations.

Thanks again for all your help! THREEL:thumbsup:

05-14-2006, 08:06 PM
Alpha Channel clarification in QT.

You can have an alpha channel in a QT movie. You just have to select the proper CODEC. Then make sure it is set to millions of colors +. There are several codecs that will do that for you, including the M100 codec if you can dig one up. a common one is "aniamtion" it does compress a bit producing a smaller file. most NLE's (non liner editing) systems will accept it. Or any QT movie for that matter. The problem is that the NLE will import it in its own native format. Which takes time. Thats why it's good to have the "native" NLE codec. By the way if you don't already have it, buy QT pro. It's a swiss army knife of video. I take image sequences and save them a a "referenced" movie. Then hand my client a folder with all the frames and the QT movie at the top of the list (I put 4 or 5 zeroes in the front of its name). The referenced movie uses the frames in the folder, playing them back in order. But it is a really small file. Whats the advantage? You don't have to explain to your client how to import an image sequence.

05-14-2006, 09:28 PM
Hello mrpapabeis,

It's nice to see another idea in the mix. I've already saved 2 sets of rendered frames (for 2 different animations) as 32-bit tiff files. I don't have QT Pro yet, so I'm bringing the image sequences back into LW 8.5, setting the sequences up as backgrounds and then re-rendering as QT .mov animations. I've downloaded an install file, actually it was a .zip file until I unzipped it, for the M100 codec, but it must have been a MAC file or something, because my PC didn't recognize it. So, I'm going to go back to Media 100's website and try to find the codec especially for PC's. Incidentally, would you know what folder I should install the M100 codec in on my PC, once I get it, so LW 8.5 will find it right away?

Thanks for your input! THREEL

05-14-2006, 10:48 PM
Hey again, THREEL,

Seems like your making good progress. When you download that M100 codec, it will very likely be an executable file that will extract to a default destination folder, likely the System folder. The installation process makes this codec visible to all prgrams that use video codecs (such as Windows Media Player) by way of the registry, if I am correct. In any case, you shouldn't need to do anything but run the installer. When you're ready to render to a movie file, Lightwave will be able to "see" the M100 codec. Just choose it as you would for any codec and go. Hope that works.:thumbsup:

05-14-2006, 11:48 PM
Nice to here from you again newtekker04!

I went back to Media 100's website and all I could find was the download for media 100 codec for MAC. So, I don't even know if a Media 100 codec exists for the PC. If you know of a place to find this, I'd greatly appreciate any info that you know. If not, I'll just use one of the codecs that pops up for .mov files, just as long as it has the millions of colors+ option in it.

Thank ya! THREEL :D

05-15-2006, 11:40 AM
Well, I decided to do a little searching myself and, unfortunately, came up empty. I guess Media 100 is strictly Mac software, even the codec.:thumbsdow I even did a google search and found nothing. Oh well, I guess you'll just have to use the millions+, as you mentioned. Seeing as Media 100 is Mac-based anyway, rendering it as a mov should work without problem.

Best of luck with your client job.:thumbsup:

05-15-2006, 01:08 PM
Wutz up newtekker04!

I took a cd with 3 different .mov files, one animation is of the logo tumbling in from top left to center, another is just the logo spinning around on its heading axis, and the last anim is the same as the spinning logo, only I moved the camera so the logo is in the lower left corner. I used the codecs for animation (millions of colors+). Also, I added the saved frames (32-bit .tif files) to the CD. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the background on the saved frames are transparent. But of course, my client was out of the office for the day. You know how that goes. So, it will probably be a couple 2 to 3 days, before I get his input. When I get a response from my client I'll update everybody.



05-18-2006, 11:52 AM
First off, I would like to thank all of you who gave there input to my dilemma about getting a transparent background in layout. I took the animations (.mov files) to my client, along with some rendered frames (32-bit .tif files) and they worked for him. He ended up using one of the stills of the 3-D Logo at an angle for his video project. He uses Media 100 on a MAC, and I did this on a PC. All my client had to do to get a transparent background on his end was set up an Alpha Channel in his video editing package and presto-change-o, transparent background. Now, the pay wasn't an enormous amount, by any stretch of the imagination, but I hope it will get my foot in the door to get more clients and jobs that will bring in a better cash flow.

So, thanks once again to Wonderpup, newtekker04, colbaltman, exit6, Silkrooster, and ViolentCaustics for your support. :thumbsup:

'Til next time, this is THREEL signing off.

05-18-2006, 12:01 PM
Sorry I missed a thank you in my last reply (see previous reply).:D
Also, I need to thank mrpapabeis as well.
Mucho Gracius, forgive me if I spelled that wrong.


05-18-2006, 01:50 PM
congratulations THREEL, glad to hear it worked out for you. a happy client is a client that comes back for more work. :D

05-19-2006, 10:09 PM
You can give your client on a media100 a qucktime using the avid codec just tell them to install the avid quicktime codec which is available from the avid website a bit of hassle the first time but then works everytime. be careful with field rendering

05-20-2006, 08:36 AM
Thanks for your input PegasusNZ.:D My solution ended up being rendering the scene as 32-bit .tif still frames. Having saved those frames, all I had to do was clear the scene, bring those still frames into the background as a sequence, and then do a quick re-render of the scene as a Quicktime .mov file. I used the standard animation codec with millions of colors+. My client was able to bring the .mov file right into his media100, then all he had to do was set-up an Alpha channel on his end. By the way, is the Avid codec something standard with LW 8.3. I couldn't find it with my codecs. I have a friend that uses Avid, and I could use the codec for projects I'm working on with him.

One other thing, I think it is cool to be corresponding with someone from New Zealand. I live in Ohio, in the U.S.A. Now, Australia is known as the Land Down Under. What is New Zealand known as. I do know NZ is known for its fantasic landscape and many movies such as The Chronicles of Narnia (great movie) have been shot on location there. So, how do you say Goodbye in New Zealand? Is it G'day Mate!, like our Aussie friends?, Goodbye, or is there some cool New Zealander way of saying Goodbye? Right her in good ol' Ohio, we like to say See You Later, because that means we will be talking to you again.

Thanks again!:thumbsup: THREEL, or you can call me AL.