Chapter 55: OpenFX

To expand your compositing possibilities, you can use OpenFX plugins directly in Harmony.

OpenFX is an open standard used to create visual effects plugins. These plugins can be used in any application that supports the standard. This means that banks of visual effect plugins can be developed by programmers and shared with various platform users. Harmony is one of these platforms.

To learn more about OpenFX, refer to:

To learn more about the main OpenFX plugin providers, refer to:

To demonstrate this feature, the Sapphire package from GenArts® will be used. You can download the Sapphire library at:


Once you have purchased or downloaded an OpenFX package, you need to launch the executable file to install it. All OpenFX plugins install in a centralized location that all applications can read from. You will not need to do anything in Harmony. They will appear automatically in the Node Library view once the package of your choice is installed.

Here is the centralized installation path:

Windows: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\OFX\Plugins
Mac OS X: /Library/OFX/Plugins
Linux: /usr/OFX/Plugins

Normal Map Converter

Harmony has the ability to generate normal maps. The main usage is to create light shading effects on flat 2D drawings—see Light Shading Effect. The normal map will carve and emboss a flat plane using vectors. The X, Y and Z coordinates of the normal map vectors are stored in RGB values to convert the 3D aspect into a visual result and use it to create various effects, such as light reflections (light shading). The X value is stored in the Red channel. The Y value is stored in the Green channel. The Z value is stored in the Blue channel.

A normal map can be used to create other effects. If you're are working with an OpenFX plugin or other plugin requiring a normal map, you can use the Normal Map Converter node to translate the Harmony normal map to a format supported by your plugin. The Normal Map Converter node has been optimized to work with GenArts® plugins, but you also have the ability to use it on custom plugins.

NOTE: Note that not all normal map formats are supported.

The Normal Map Converter uses the following formula per channel:

value * (+/- length) + offset
* +/- depending if inverse is set to true ("-" if true)

Using OpenFX Plugins

All OpenFX plugins can be customized by adjusting their parameters. Settings are organized by category and some of them can be expanded and collapsed for clarity. Parameters can also be animated over time—see Animating an Effect over Time .

Some effects also have visual controls to set the position or angle. If you want to adjust the controls for your effect, you must do so in OpenGL mode. To see the effect in OpenGL mode, you need to connect a Render Preview node to your effect.