How to Add Effects to a Scene

When creating a scene, rigging a character or once your animation is finished, you can add effects such as blurs, glows, shadows, colour filters and transparency filters and to enhance your project's quality. Effects change the way layers or groups of layers are rendered in your scene.

About Effects

Effects are special types of nodes that you can add to your scene's structure. For an effect node to work, it must be connected to a drawing or a composite. Effects only alter the drawing or composite they are connected to, which gives you flexibility in deciding precisely which parts of your scene is affected.

Some effects need to be linked to another layer referred to as the matte layer, which is used to define the area they should affect. The most basic example of this is the Cutter effect. Alone, a cutter effect does not have any effect on your drawing. Once combined with a matte layer, the Cutter effect cuts the shape of the matte out of the drawing.

A matte layer is simply a drawing layer that is connected to an effect as its matte. The effect takes the shape of the drawing in the matte layer, ignoring its colours and details.

In the Node view, an effect must be connected to the drawing or composite it is meant to affect by its input (top) port, and its output (bottom) port must be connected to the composite. Most effects that require a matte must be connected to their drawing layer by their right input port, and to their matte layer by their left input port, like this:

Once your effect is connected, you can adjust its parameters using the Layer Properties view. If desired, you can even animate the parameters of your effect by converting their values to functions.

NOTE: If you need to use the uncut version of your drawing layer anywhere else in your scene, you can bypass the effect it is connected to by connecting the drawing layer's output port to other input ports of your composite, or to other effects or composite, as needed. This will create new cables, leaving your layer's connection to its effect unaffected.

Adding Effects

In Harmony, you can add effects by dragging them from the Node Library view to the Node view and connecting them as an intermediary between their drawing layer and their composite. Then, you can achieve the intended effect by adjusting its parameters in the Layers Properties view, and connecting it to a matte or other types of input layers it might require.

Working with the Node View and Node View Library

To add effects or other types of nodes to the Node view, you must first find them in the Node Library view.

When you create a new project in Harmony, the default node system that appears in the Node view looks similar to the one below.

Notice how layers are connected to your scene's composite. For an effect to work, it must be connected as an intermediary between a layer and its composite, as if it was made to filter the layer's drawing information before it reaches the composite.

Cutter Effect

The Cutter effect cuts out a portion of an image. To accomplish this, it needs to be connected to the drawing it is intended to cut as well as to a matte layer. The cutter will take the shape of the drawing in its matte layer and cut this shape out of the drawing layer. This is especially useful if you want to make a character disappear between a background element, or if you want to cut out a hole in the middle of a character.

The Cutter effect has an Inverted parameter, which is disabled by default. When enabled, the Cutter will have the revert effect: Instead of cutting the matte's shape out of the drawing, it will cut everything outside of the matte's shape out of the drawing, leaving only the parts of the drawing that are covered by the matte.

Animating an Effect

In some cases, you may want to have the intensity, color, or another parameter of an effect animated. For example, you may want an object to fade in or out, which would require making its transparency level animated so that it increases or decreases as your scene goes. You can animate an effect's parameters by creating a function curve for its parameter. You can then add keyframes to the function and set them to different values, hence making your effect's parameter change value as your scene plays out. To do this, you will need to use the Layer Properties view.