Focal Blade and Lightroom

FocalBlade specific discussions
watsonm
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Focal Blade and Lightroom

Postby watsonm » Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:28 am

What I would like is a standalone version of Focal Blade so that I can "Edit in-> " from Lighroom. Photoshop is rarely ever run on my machine now so it would be nice to run FB directly from LR.

I know I have requested this by private e-mail Harald but only just come across the forum and wondered if other folk would like to add their vote?
Mike

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Postby HaraldHeim » Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:56 pm

Standalone versions of all plugins (including FocalBlade) is certainly something that is on the to-do list. But I still hope that Adobe will make it possible to do create real plugins for Lightroom 3 and that Lightroom 3 will be released next year.

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Postby watsonm » Sat Aug 01, 2009 12:00 pm

Thanks Harald.

The way Adobe pricing works I am not convinved I will upgrade unless they producing something extremely brilliant.

Here's hoping for a standalone focal blade.......

Thanks for replying Mike
Mike

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Postby nuyensgert » Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:00 pm

What is the latest status of this topic? Is there a standalone version coming in the near future or is there a plugin coming for Lightroom 3?

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Postby HaraldHeim » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:34 pm

It would be great if creating a filter/development plugin for Lightroom would be possible. So far Adobe only allows standalone programs to work as so-called external editors.

A Standalone/Lightroom version of FocalBlade 2 will be available soon.

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Re: Focal Blade and Lightroom

Postby confused_2 » Mon May 02, 2011 2:02 pm

I downloaded the "Stand Alone/Lightroom" version of focalblade 2, and am impressed by its basic function --- it seems to do a remarkably good job. However, I find myself confused. From the buying and demo options I understand this version is literally intended for both "Stand Alone" and "Lightroom" roles. Correct?

I have been able to use this FB2 as an external editor from within LR2.1, but the "output" seems to be to produce a processed image file --- no other options. This seems to imply that I must keep lots of copies of images, perhaps for different purposes, or else lose my work.

LR2 works by (nominally) keeping an original image, then keeping a record of the operations performed on that image --- the latter is a small volume of data. At the point where you wish to print output, all operations are performed on the fly (based on the stored operations history), the print details are selected (eg print colour profile, colour intent etc), and the data passed to the printer. For RAW files we literally separate the RAW image and the operations data. For jpg I am less certain of the details, as the operations history seems to be stored within the jpg file; but I believe the original image content remains unchanged. In essence, we have non-destructive adjustments; and the total volume of data to be maintained does not increase significantly with work.

Within LR2 use, during "Development" we can access the history of operations, and revert to an earlier stage of manipulation. To make this more useful, we can generate "snapshots" which give markers to selected stages of development, which we associate with descriptive titles. This helps maintain versions of the image produced for particular purposes --- all held within the small-volume record of operations, and all readily accessible from LR2.

LR2 has its limitations, in that all operations must be capable of being represented by a small set of numerical values --- to be held within the operations record. However, it is certainly convenient. My impression is that FB2 works in the same way: an algorithm is fed a set of adjustment parameters, and is fast enough to perform that adjustment on the fly. Thus, in principle, there is no need to retain the output tiff print --- only the knowledge of which LR2 "snapshot" formed the "input" image for FB2, together with the set of parameter values (implied by slider positions, or menu choices) used by FB2. To my intense frustration, it is not obvious to me that this set of parameters can be stored (on an image by image basis) in a convenient form for later re-use with the same input image. There is a preference to "log" settings, but this appears to merely hold over values from the last use of FB2.

Does FB2 currently record parameter settings for processing on an image by image basis?

Ideally, the FB2 parameters would be stored within LR2 as part of the "operations history", so that we could reconstruct output entirely within LR2. However, this may imply a greater degree of integration than may be practical.

Failing the above, it would be useful to have the option to output the current FB2 parameters in a small file (probably in the same directory as the image source) formed from the name of the image source file with a different suffix --- say .fb9 or something. This file should contain the content of a text dialogue, intended to record the relevant LR2 "snapshot" name of the FB2 input image, together with a record of the parameters used to form the adjusted image, and the content of a second text dialogue describing the sharpened output (eg "Produced for digital photo-frame"). Ideally, this file should be capable of containing several alternative variants; and an input selector in FB2 should permit choice of one of these variants for re-creation of earlier work, for use as a starting point, or merely to delete a failed experiment!

The important point is that this "FB2 operations data" should be available on an image by image basis, and that this data can be closely associated with the original image --- so that modified images can be safely deleted, secure in the knowledge that they can be precisely re-created if necessary. That would alleviate my backup headache, especially as original images seem to get larger over time.

Of course, it would be necessary to ensure that updates to FB2 could always deal with, and append to, earlier "FB2 operations data" generated by earlier versions of FB2.

I apologise for the length of this message, but feel that FB2 is potentially a very valuable tool that I cannot really use because it does not, at present, seem to fit in with my aim of producing output "on the fly" from an original image together with stored low-volume scripts or data. To my great frustration, this seems to be entirely feasible for FB2 with a small modification of the gross data handling.

I hope you will be able to consider what I am suggesting here, or else tell me how this can be achieved using the current FB2 version.

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Re: Focal Blade and Lightroom

Postby HaraldHeim » Mon May 02, 2011 6:57 pm

The FocalBlade 2 Standalone/Lightroom version contains two EXE files. One as a standalone and one that is launched by Lightroom.

Unfortunately Lightroom does not support real plugins, so FocalBlade is run as an external editor. As a consequence a TIFF copy of each image is created by Lightroom, which is then processed by FocalBlade.

It is also not possible to make Lightroom store the settings of FocalBlade, but there is an alternative. You can activate the Log Settings check box on the Prefs tab sheet in FocalBlade. This stores the settings of each processed image as a preset file by using the image file name as the preset file name.

The logged presets can later be reloaded by using the Logged Settings options. At the moment this needs to be done manually, e.g. by (right) clicking the Reset button. But I will add an option to the next Standalone/Lightroom update for automatically opening the logged preset files.

At the moment there is no option to automatically save the logged preset files to the image folder and to automatically open them again from there. I will add such a feature to the next update too.

The logged preset files are located at
Windows XP:
c:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\ThePluginSite\FocalBlade\logfiles\
Windows Vista/7:
c:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\ThePluginSite\FocalBlade\logfiles\

So you can manually copy them from there to your image folder or a backup folder.

I guess this solution does not work for you at the moment, but when adding the two mentioned new features to the next update would it work for you?

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Re: Focal Blade and Lightroom

Postby confused_2 » Tue May 03, 2011 5:21 pm

Harold:

Many thanks for your rapid and full reply!


> The FocalBlade 2 Standalone/Lightroom version contains two EXE files. One as a standalone and one that is launched by Lightroom.

Understood. There are obvious small differences depending on the invocation. Do
you get both if you purchase the Standalone/Lightroom version? That would be useful.

> Unfortunately Lightroom does not support real plugins ...

Again, understood. The "ideal" degree of integration is not yet practical.

> It is also not possible to make Lightroom store the settings of FocalBlade, but there is an alternative. You can activate the Log Settings check box on the Prefs tab sheet in FocalBlade. This stores the settings of each processed image as a preset file by using the image file name as the preset file name.

At this stage it is not clear to me whether "You can" is intended to imply an existing feature which I had not found, or to imply a potential new feature. I include some test results from my Vista Home Edition, my Lightroom 2.1, and the current download of FocalBlade2:


First, a detail. On my Vista Home Edition I found your logged preset files at:
C:\Documents and Settings\tony\Application Data\ThePluginSite\FocalBlade2\logfiles
This looks more like your "Windows XP" location --- I have no idea why!

Having, today (03 May) used FB2 in conjunction with LR2 to modify image _MG_1081.JPG, with "log" checked, this directory contains two (nominally 1kB) files:
71198.fbp 03/05/2011 after edit _MG_1081.JPG
158901.fbp 01/05/2011 from an earlier edit.
These contain ascii text numerical values, obviously the parameter settings I am looking for; but with no descriptive labels or image names. The log file names (and contents) are not self-evidently related to the "original" image file names; it is not clear to me whether this logged data is an image by image record, or merely a record of the last values used that day.


> The logged presets can later be reloaded by using the Logged Settings options. At the moment this needs to be done manually, e.g. by (right) clicking the Reset button. But I will add an option to the next Standalone/Lightroom update for automatically opening the logged preset files.

Right click on "Reset" offers a menu (as Help indicates):

Default Settings --- Produces a reasonable default.
Version 1 Defaults --- Ditto, but slightly different.
Previous Settings --- Seems to deliver what it claims, but not sure if image by image data.
Own Defaults --- Offers selection from:
C:\Users\tony\AppData\Roaming\ThePluginSite\FocalBlade2\Presets
Logged Settings --- Error Box: "Sorry, the Logged Settings feature is not supported by the host application".

I guess you are all set to do something very similar to what I suggested, but it is not yet implemented! I'll assume this in my replies, below:

> At the moment there is no option to automatically save the logged preset files to the image folder and to automatically open them again from there. I will add such a feature to the next update too.

> The logged preset files are located at ... So you can manually copy them from there to your image folder or a backup folder.

I would be grateful if you would consider the following for the Lightroom version:

1. In the demo version, clicking "OK" produces a dialogue box "This is only a demo version ... ", after which a further OK performs a rendering and saves the rendered tiff file. It would be useful to have an alternative dialogue box request for several items:

1.1. Input image description. This free-format text would probably be the name of the LR2 snapshot used to define the LR ammended copy. It is a little fiddley, but highlighting the _original image in LR2 during "Develop" provides the ability to see this snapshot description, and also to use "Rename" snapshot name to copy this text. Thus, this text could be pasted into a suitable type of dialogue box entry. Default: As previously selected.

1.2. Output image description, after sharpening. This free-format text defines the purpose of the sharpened output, eg "A4 Inkjet print", "Digital frame image", etc. Default: As previously selected.

1.3. Radio button: "Save new settings". Default is "yes". Value "No" might be used if we merely want to reproduce an earlier result, not produce a new one.

1.4. "OK" to save the above two text items, together with FB2 settings, within a file with filename based on the image file name, provided "Yes" to "Save new settings". Whether a new setting is saved or not, the image is rendered with the specified sharpening, and output as a modified image --- according to earlier "Copy" selection.

1.5. Of course, an expectation would be that once the sharpened image has been used for printing, or other export, it will probably be deleted --- to be reproduced, if necessary, on the fly from the original and the various LR and FB records of settings!


2. Ideally, there should be a single file associated with each _original_ image file, used as a recipient for the details noted above. This file should be organised so that each "OK" (storage of free-format text and settings) appends extra data to this file. This permits recorded sharpening to be performed on several LR2 snapshot instances for one original, or even several different recorded sharpenings to be derived from each LR2 snapshot. One extra file for each original seems quite enough for FB2.

3. This raises the question of where this file should be located:

3.1. In my case I would probably prefer that such files be kept in the same directories as the original source files, as this makes them easily associated and selectively copied, as paired files, where necessary.

3.2. However, if the "original" files are RAW files, they will literally be unchanged by LR2, so backup can be infrequent. On this basis, they may be advantages in keeping the FB2 files in separate low-volume directories which can be backed up more frequently. I use amanda for backup from a UNIX machine; and when backing up Windows files through Samba, it is a lot easier to back up whole directories rather than selecting by the file suffix. This argument is much weaker if the "originals" are jpg images, as LR2 seems to retain histories within the jpg files themselves --- so you have to back up the lot anyway! Overall, we probably need the option of defining such files in separate directories, as LR2 permits.

3.3. One possibility is to have a single directory to accommodate all FB2 files. This is readily backed up, but has disadvantages: (a) Image and FB2 files not easily associated. (b) Potentially a very large number of files within a single directory, which may eventually lead to problems, depending on the Operating System. (c) In some cases "original" images might share the same naming conventions and identical numerical values (from different cameras?) --- these would be distinguishable only through their different directories. Such distinction would be lost if all filenames (without paths) were held in the same directory. Thus, although use of a single, absolutely located, directory may be useful it should not be the only option.

3.4. A potentially better option might be to use some form of relative directory structure. If an image is from a directory <source>, then we might put the associated FB2 file in:

3.4.1. <source>\fb2\ --- an appended directory within each source directory.

3.4.2. <source>\..\fb2\ --- sets of parallel directories.

3.4.3. Given images in: C:\photos\.....path details......\<source_dir>\
put FB2 files in C:\fb2\.....path details......\<source_dir>\
This produces a wholly parallel tree, which is easier to backup,
and which permits fairly easy association of files.

3.5. Of these, 3.4.3 will be easier to backup separately. The first two options, for amanda, would imply detailed "Disc List Entries" for each of the lowest-level directories.

3.6. My personal gut feeling is that it should be practical to define, within preferences, an "original image root"; and also to define the FB2 file location with respect to that root --- permitting path-description fragments to precede and follow the "original image root". This should permit any of the above options to be defined within a single scheme. However, you might have to explain these possibilities to a Windows or Mac audience fairly carefully (with examples, and reasons!) within the FB2 manual!


4. On the whole I tend to avoid the Windows "standard" locations for high-volume and/or multiple files, and place them on a well-defined path close to a disk root (C: etc). This is partly because Windows seems to be quite capable of trashing everything "within Windows" if you upgrade or replace the Operating System --- and this can include the standard locations. Another reason is that such standard locations involve paths including spaces within the path names, and this also gives backup via Samba/UNIX (eg for amanda) some difficulties --- where the necessary solutions are typically rather laborious. I prefer to keep my large and valued databases less proprietary!


> At the moment there is no option to automatically save the logged preset files to the image folder and to automatically open them again from there. I will add such a feature to the next update too.

> The logged preset files are located at ... So you can manually copy them from there to your image folder or a backup folder.

> I guess this solution does not work for you at the moment, but when adding the two mentioned new features to the next update would it work for you?

1. So far I have made a meal of storing FB2 files. Obviously, we need to be able to open them as well so that we can reproduce earlier work, or use earlier work as a starting point for new work. I hope you will also consider the following.

2. At present, a right-click on "Reset" offers "logged Settings", which seems to be intended to open a previous set of parameters on an image-by-image basis --- although it does not currently seem to be functional with LR2.

3. Ideally, I would hope that clicking "logged settings" would open further menu item offerings associated with the current "original" image; first for the choice of "LR2 snapshot description text", and then for the "output description text" for that snapshot. Having selected these, the appropriate settings would be extracted from the FB2 file, so that FB2 would be readied either to reproduce an earlier set of adjustments, or else to form a starting position for new adjustments. An additional selection should permit deletion of the selected parameter set defined by both text choices --- not all experimental adjustments are worth keeping!

4. Overall, I believe what I have described is not very different from what you suggest, although I have tried to reflect the multiple possibilities of using the Lightroom "history" as defined in formal "snapshots", together with the FB2 potential for alternative sharpening for different image end-products. This obviously can imply large numbers of stored parameter sets associated with any one image --- which may sound a bit over the top. In practice, there will not be too many permutations used in practice. Perhaps you need to limit the number of entries in each selection to (say) 10. If any more are really needed, I guess you can always define extra snapshots for the same LR2 adjustments, or even store a second copy of an "original" image if you really really must have more snapshots!

5. So, as a direct answer to your question, adding the two features suggested --- with something like the suggested "multiple sets" of stored data approach --- should give a useful de facto "integration" with Lightroom or similar "hosts". By keeping the text "descriptions" free-format, rather than extractions from host, but making their sequential selection purposes clear, this approach should remain generic, and survive updates to LR2 or other hosts. Obviously, more direct integration would be ideal; but this type of approach would give a very nice workable result that would meet the objective of "original" images and on-the-fly manipulation to previously defined, or new, results.

Again, sorry for the extreme length --- but I am trying to explore a scenario that could work. A pure stand-alone suite could use an identical scheme, but should probably be stored separately within the FB2 file, as the LR2 "snapshot" selections would not be directly relevant (although the first selection might imply the result of other miscellaneous manipulation tools) --- and we would want to avoid over-writing parameter sets produced via LR2.

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Re: Focal Blade and Lightroom

Postby HaraldHeim » Tue May 03, 2011 10:55 pm

There are obvious small differences depending on the invocation. Do
you get both if you purchase the Standalone/Lightroom version?

Yes.

Having, today (03 May) used FB2 in conjunction with LR2 to modify image _MG_1081.JPG, with "log" checked, this directory contains two (nominally 1kB) files:
71198.fbp 03/05/2011 after edit _MG_1081.JPG
158901.fbp 01/05/2011 from an earlier edit.

Sorry, seems it does not save the presets with the image file names. Something more to fix with the next update.

Logged Settings --- Error Box: "Sorry, the Logged Settings feature is not supported by the host application".

This problem occurs because the image file name is not internally passed to the Logged Settings feature. Same problem as above that needs to be fixed.

1. In the demo version, clicking "OK" produces a dialogue box "This is only a demo version ... ", after which a further OK performs a rendering and saves the rendered tiff file. It would be useful to have an alternative dialogue box request for several items:

Hey, you have very specific and detailed requests. You are a software developer yourself, right? Actually we only add features to our software that is useful for a larger group of people. Additionally we want to keep FocalBlade as simple as possible.

4. Overall, I believe what I have described is not very different from what you suggest,

Yes, I think I got it, but I prefer to use the more simple approach described in my last post.

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Re: Focal Blade and Lightroom

Postby confused_2 » Wed May 04, 2011 11:02 am

Hey, you have very specific and detailed requests. You are a software developer yourself, right? Actually we only add features to our software that is useful for a larger group of people. Additionally we want to keep FocalBlade as simple as possible.


Yes, I do develop software --- although not for this type of application! Sorry if you don't like the detail; I was trying to explore usefulness in context, not really define minutiae.

Yes, I think I got it, but I prefer to use the more simple approach described in my last post.


From my perspective, being able to store only one parameter set per image is ignoring what Lightroom does. Lightroom stores just one "original", but retains the "scripts" to accurately reproduce modified versions of that image on-the-fly by retaining a history and "snapshot" markers into that history. Crucially, this implies there is no need to retain modified versions of the image --- only the script (parameter settings) data. As a side issue, this is also a great way to organise images.

FocalBlade is potentially very similar. You need not retain sharpened images, only the parameter data. However, this data depends on the input image (else you do not need all these fancy sliders), including Lightroom-type image modifications; and it may also depend on the intended purpose of the output. Hence the suggested "multiple" stored parameter sets, and some way of associated labelling of input and output.

Perhaps things can be combined. If the right-click on Reset reveals the two (snapshot and output) text boxes as well as your current offerings, then this could support the "multiple" approach I suggest. If sequential instances of saving parameter sets have identical label text (stripping off leading and trailing blanks), then the corresponding older parameter set should be overwritten. Specifically, if the user ignores these boxes (perhaps initially containing blanks, or the word "default"), then the effect is identical to that of your current intention --- a simple interface, and just one parameter (latest) set stored per image. This combination of simplicity with options should be useful for "a larger group of people".

I guess that, for me, the bottom line is that a single stored parameter set per image leaves Focalblade unchanged wrt Lightroom --- an interesting tool, but one that I cannot usefully use unless I am prepared to retain modified image copies. My backup system will not thank me for doing that!

Please think about this. I really do believe other Lightroom users would have exactly the same perceptions.

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Re: Focal Blade and Lightroom

Postby HaraldHeim » Wed May 04, 2011 5:11 pm

Sure, I could make FocalBlade use multiple logged preset files per image, e.g. by appending a number or whatever, but automatic selection of a logged preset would only select the last saved one. Then the other presets could only be opened manually.

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Re: Focal Blade and Lightroom

Postby confused_2 » Wed May 04, 2011 6:15 pm

Then the other presets could only be opened manually.


That sounds fine, provided the manual opening of parameter sets can be selected for the correct LR2 snapshot and sharpening output. I am suggesting they would be selected using their recorded text descriptions.

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Re: Focal Blade and Lightroom

Postby HaraldHeim » Wed May 04, 2011 6:41 pm

Not sure how associate a logged preset with a LR snapshot...

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Re: Focal Blade and Lightroom

Postby confused_2 » Thu May 05, 2011 10:21 am

Not sure how associate a logged preset with a LR snapshot...


That is what I tried to describe in the earlier detail. Briefly: manually.

In essence, each LR snapshot has a free-form text "description" (a few words) which the LR user generates at the time he forms the snapshot; one assumes this is intended to record the reason for producing this particular LR manipulation of this particular image. My proposal is that when a FB2 user selects this particular LR2 "snapshot" version of this particular image as input for FB2, then he records this descriptive text (or something similar) as an "input description" to be recorded along with the FB2 parameter values when they are eventually "logged". Input of this text might be selected from earlier inputs (see below), typed in manually (perhaps an abbreviated version), or cut from the LR2 snapshot text (via a cancelled rename procedure) and pasted. Remember, within LR2 we can delete snapshot markers, so a description such as "5th snapshot" is insufficent; but we could use numerical values embedded within the LR2 snapshot description.

In practice this is not enough to identify the FB2 parameter set completely (for this particular image and LR2 snapshot), as the FB2 manipulations may be different for different purposes. Thus I also propose a second "output description", also free-format, produced by the FB2 user, which he uses to describe the specific purpose for the FB2 manipulations used here. Both of these are included with the FB2 parameter set at the time of logging. Of course, if this user does not expect to produce several FB2 variations, he will probably leave this text blank or as a "default" text.

I envisage the dialogue for input of each of these descriptions to be some form of drop-down menu selection, offering a choice of relevant descriptions from those already entered (for this image) or else manual input of a new description. The choice from previous descriptions is useful because (a) we might merely want to select earlier work to produce a temporary manipulated image for printing, with the temporary image being subsequently deleted to save space; or (b) wish to delete an earlier experimental FB2 parameter set, or over-write with an improved version; and (c) In producing different FB2 variants, we may well wish to start from the same LR2 snapshot.

The above paragraph implicitly explains how we retrieve FB2 parameter sets. Within LR2 we select our original image, and select the LR2 "snapshot" variant. We invoke FB2 for modification of the LR-ammended copy, menu-select this snapshot's "input description", then a relevant "output description" which loads the appropriate previously worked FB2 parameter set. This might be used directly, deleted, or form the basis of a further small adjustment --- to be logged with another "output description".

This takes a lot of explaining, but should be easy enough in practice (and very similar to LR practice), and can be largely ignored if the user is not interested in "variants".

BTW, I will be away for several days from tomorrow.


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