Silhouette 2021, perpetual license, is a best-in-class visual effects tool featuring the industry’s most robust non-destructive paint and rotoscoping workflow for feature film and television post-production. Now available as a standalone application and a fully-featured multi-host plugin.
Since 2005, Silhouette has made its mark on Hollywood’s biggest titles including Avatar, Avengers: End Game, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and The Mandalorian. Designed by professional VFX artists, Silhouette has been recognized with prestigious Academy and Emmy Awards for its contribution to the film and television industry. Silhouette is officially recommended by the Netflix Production Technology Alliance in the VFX category.
What’s New in Boris Silhouette 2021.5, Annual Subscription
New! 4-Way Color Correction UI with master, shadows, midtones and highlights wheels including 89 color grading presets from Academy Award nominated movies.
Improved Paint Performance! Color / Detail Clone Brush with faster interaction and perfectly smooth strokes.
Improved Paint Preset interface with interactive workflow.
New! Composite Modes: Math Composite now has 22 blend modes for advanced composite operations.
Silhouette 20201.5 supports macOS, Windows, and Linux.
What’s new in Silhouette 2021
Major features elevate Silhouette beyond traditional roto and cleanup as a node-based compositing system with 154 nodes. Designed for professional VFX finishing.
Multi-host plugin now included — launch from AE, Nuke, Resolve and more.
Lens Correction node
Improved shape editing and keyframe tools
Review & approval notes
Improved user interface, movie file support with Gstreamer, and much more
New subscription options make Silhouette more affordable than ever. Silhouette is also included in the Boris FX Suite.
The fully-featured Silhouette interface for roto, paint, and compositing can now be launched as a plugin from industry-standard VFX applications.
Silhouette’s node-based workflow is a plugin for After Effects, Premiere Pro, Nuke, Fusion, Resolve, Flame, and Vegas Pro.
The Silhouette multi-host plugin comes with all Silhouette 2021 standalone application licenses or can be purchased as a separate option.
Want free roto renders in Nuke? Launch the Silhouette OFX plugin and render densely layered roto projects back to Nuke with no license!
Powered by Silhouette’s roto tools, the new Lens Correction node can quickly calibrate and correct lens distortion for advanced effects tasks.
Paint on an undistorted view or generate and export an ST Map for other host applications. The Lens Correction node is built on shared technology from Mocha Pro’s Lens Module.
New Roto & Editing Tools
Brush Reshape uses a circular brush to automatically select and then move points when you click and drag them using the Magnetic Reshape behavior.
Point Collapse and Distribute. Collapses a selection of points into a very small area which can later be distributed between surrounding points. This is useful for shapes whose complexity changes over time.
Point Groups. Groups of points can be pre-defined and then quickly edited as a group in the Reshape and Transform tools.
Split Shapes. Similar to the Split Edit function in non-linear editing systems where a clip is split in two, Split Shapes is useful for shapes that transform from simple to complex and vice-versa.
Weighted MultiFrame. Using the new Fade In/Fade Out parameters, keyframe adjustments can be dynamically weighted over user-definable time periods to control the intensity of an adjustment over multiple keyframes.
New Review and Approval and User Interface Improvements
Notes assigned to objects (shapes, layers, trackers) can now be displayed in the viewer. This is a useful review and approval tool for artists to easily see notes from their supervisors.
New Nodes: Alpha Composite, Dot, Notes, OCIO Colorspace/Display/LUT
Many User Interface Improvements: Custom File Importer, Flyout Menus, Node Coloring, Node Alignment, OCIO Roles, Sapphire Node Tab, and more
Boris Silhouette Features – Perpetual License
Designed For Roto Artists
Silhouette features the world’s most refined tools for rotoscoping teams. Create sophisticated masks using B-Spline, Bézier, X-Spline, or Magnetic Freehand shapes. Intelligent design and easy-to-use tools such as variable per-point edge softening and new brush-based magnetic reshaping assist in creating articulate animations. Render mattes with realistic motion blur or export to industry-standard shape formats.
Advanced roto tools include:
Highly-optimized interface, layer controls, and toolset
Magnetic spline and edge-snapping with new Brush Reshape for fast shape editing
IK (Inverse Kinematics) to animate limbs and all manner of jointed creatures
Integrated point tracking, planar tracking, and Mocha planar tracking
Stereoscopic 3D workflow
Move, scale, rotate, shear, and corner pin shapes and groups of shapes
New in 2021: Major advancements for roto efficiency include point groups, weighted keyframes, brush-based reshape, split shapes, collapse, and distribute points
New in 2021: Review/approval notes for collaboration
Fast & Non-Destructive Paint
World-class paint tools. Silhouette’s Paint is the industry’s first 32-bit float raster-based paint and tracking system to bring the high-performance, multi-layer, color-managed workflow to a plugin. Designed to handle the demands of feature film and 4K television production. Whether it’s image restoration, dust busting, matte painting, beauty work, rig removal, or just plain paint, Silhouette’s unique Auto Paint recording system delivers the speed of raster paint with the repeatability of vector paint.
Paint Tools: Pressure-sensitive customizable brushes. Includes Clone, Grain, Repair, Drag, and more. New in 2021: Improved Paint Preset workflow.
Fast & Non-Destructive Paint: Highly efficient layer system for large resolution film/video paint. Auto Paint recording system delivers the speed of a raster-based paint system with the flexibility of vector paint.
Powerful Motion Tracking: Features multiple tracking options including integrated Mocha for rock-solid planar tracking.
Channels & Detail Separation: Paint on individual RGBA channels or choose to work on separated detail and color views for advanced control. Now with improved performance, 20201.5 release.
Sophisticated Cloning: Advanced offset and warping, onion skin, and display views enable a streamlined workflow for aligning, patching, and removing unwanted pixels.
Powerful Tracking Options: Native point, planar tracking, and integrated Mocha tracking.
Silhouette’s core is a feature-rich node-based effects tree that delivers film-grade results. View and edit any combination of nodes for complex compositing, matte manipulation, keying, color correction, grain management, look development, morphing, warping, and much more.
Silhouette 2021 features 154 specialty nodes organized into Color, Composite, Diffusion, Filter, Film Lab, Image, Key, Light, Silhouette, Special Effects, Time, Tints, Transform, Warp, Sapphire, and OFX groups. Silhouette also supports OFX plugins including Mocha Pro, Sapphire, Neat Video, and RE:Vision Effects products.
Gestural node-based compositing
OCIO color-managed workflow
Multiple roto and paint nodes
Exacting color grading
Proprietary matte generation
Edge tools to color correct or blur the composite’s edge
Matte manipulation using shrink, grow, blur, and wrap functions
Visual presets for most nodes
Plugin: Silhouette 2021 brings the full feature set as a multi-host plugin (formerly limited to just paint tools) supporting: After Effects, Premiere Pro, and OFX Hosts including NUKE, Resolve, Fusion, Flame, and more. Available for macOS, Windows, and Linux with floating license options for enterprise.
Warping & Morphing
Silhouette’s fully-featured shape-based warp and morph tools provide the highest level of creative control and render quality for digital retouching, image deformations, and even talking animals. Create invisible touch-ups, subtle facial exaggerations, or dramatic transitions with either shape or pin options.
With a rich history on some of the world’s most famous music videos and effects shots, time unique “shape-to-shape morphing transitions” per layer with interactive previews for fast flexibility.
Pin Warp is perfect for beauty work, allowing user-defined image areas using pins while leaving other areas untouched. Adjustments can range from subtle nip and tucks to something more obvious like repositioning an arm or leg.
Keying & Matte Generation
The powerful zMatte and Power Matte nodes use proprietary matte extraction techniques that handle the most difficult keying and matting challenges, including shots with fine hair detail, smoke, or reflections.
zMatte keying features multiple matte creation, light wrapping, edge correction, spill suppression, and matte manipulation.
Power Matte’s unique interactive workflow enhances the matte creation process on normally non-keyable shots with foreground and background shape selectors that generate incredibly realistic and accurate results on semi-transparent objects.
Powerful Tracking Options
The industry’s most powerful tracking drives Silhouette’s animation system. Apply to speed up paint, roto, warp, and stabilization tasks. Choose from 1, 2, or 4 point tracking, native planar tracker, or award-winning Mocha tracking included as a standard feature in Silhouette 2021.
Applying pre-processing filters can increase tracker accuracy for problematic images. Choose Blur, Sharpen, Contrast, Gamma, De-Noise, or Remove Flicker. Apply post-processing filters to tracking data, including Average, Smooth, and Merge.
Mocha Pro Plugin for Silhouette
Mocha Pro plugin for Silhouette and bundle options. Users can now upgrade or purchase the Mocha Pro plugin for Silhouette which adds valuable advanced planar tracking and compositing workflows to complement Silhouette.
Linux: Linux distributions that conform to the CY2021 VFX Reference Platform Platform as specified at www.vfxplatform.com
Processor: Intel or AMD processor
Memory: 2GB of RAM (4GB or more recommended)
Disk: High-speed disk array or SSD storage. 1GB of available disk space for caching and temporary files
NVIDIA GTX 460 or better
AMD Radeon 57xx series or better
OpenGL 2.1 capable graphics card
OpenCL 1.1 capable graphic card
1GB of graphics memory for film resolution
Nodelocked or floating license.
Nodelock licenses require an internet connection once every 60 days
Stereo viewing and editing
Region of interest for enhanced performance
Scripting and actions
OpenColorIO color management
GPU and OpenGL® accelerated
Proxy management for large image sizes
Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro 2020
Blackmagic Resolve and Fusion
New! Multi-host plugin now included — launch from AE, Nuke, and more.
New! Lens Correction node
New! Improved roto shape editing and keyframing tools
New! Review & approval notes
New! Improved user interface, movie file support with Gstreamer, and much more
Silhouette 2020.5.7 – 10/09/20
Features User Interface > Font Size Preference
A User Interface > Font Size Preference was added to adjust the font. This aids in making the text more readable on high dpi monitors. Note: Setting a larger font size could cause the text to be cut off in certain menus.
Changes Grain Size Smaller Than .5
The Grain > Size went no lower than .5. The minimum size is now 0.1.
Paint Source Shortcut
The paint source shortcut used to select either Foreground or Output as the paint source has been changed to Alt-P.
Bug Fixes Edge Snapping Shortcut
The Alt-S edge snapping keyboard shortcut did not work.
Hold Node Frame Value Not Preserved
The Hold node Frame value was not preserved after a project restart. It always reset to 0.
Mac OpenColorIO library
The version of the OpenColorIO library included in the Silhouette Mac app didn’t have the proper signature and could not be found on some systems.
Planar Tracker > Reference Frame
The Planar Tracker > Reference Frame was supposed to display the frame that you first started tracking on and then remain on that frame number. Instead, the frame number continuously changed until tracking completed.
Roto Delete Crash
Silhouette would crash after creating multiple layers and then pressing the Delete icon in the Object List.
Sapphire OFX Issues
S_Brush, S_Crosshatch, S_RomanTile, S_StripSlide: Presets didn’t do anything in the Sapphire browser.
S_Effect/S_Transition loaded the image with transparency in the Builder.
S_Effect crashed after entering and exiting the Builder.
Timebar Frame Markers Didn’t Disappear After Delete
After deleting frames in the Auto Paint window, the frame markers did not automatically delete. You had to drag the Timebar to get them to disappear.
Tree Groups Did Not Minimize
Tree groups did not minimize.
Using DOD Or Crop On FG Before Composite Clipped FG
If a DOD or Crop node was adjusted smaller than the Session size and inserted on the FG input of a Composite node, the FG was cropped.
Known Issues Trimmed Footage in Premiere Pro Loaded Entire Clip
If a clip was trimmed in Premiere Pro, the entire clip was loaded into the Silhouette Paint plug-in instead of the trimmed clip. This is a Premiere Pro limitation and the issue has been logged with Adobe.
Create Tracker > Center of View
Point Tracker > Create placed the tracker in the center of the screen. If you were zoomed in and panned off the center, you wouldn’t see the tracker that was created. Point Trackers are now always created in the center of the current view when using Point Tracker > Create.
Note: Alt-clicking still adds a tracker wherever you click.
Dragging Past Min/Max Parameter Values
When dragging on a value field with an edit range different than the display range, for example the OCIO Gain control and some Sapphire controls, the value can now be Alt-dragged all the way to the edit range limits.
Python API To Add Dynamic Ports
Added scripting support for dynamic ports.
node.addPort() – adds a new dynamic input port and returns it, otherwise None if the node does not support dynamic ports.
node.removePort(port) – removes the port if it is dynamic.
Remove Single Point Shapes In Nuke Export
When scripting a Nuke shape export, there is now a check for single point shapes.
Trees Window Interaction Rewrite
Trees window interactions were rewritten to solve various bugs.
Silhouette Paint is the industry’s first paint and tracking plug-in designed to bring best-of-breed, 32 bit, high dynamic range paint tools to editing and effects applications. Artists can now access Silhouette’s professional sequence-based paint tools inside their host of choice including Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro, The Foundry’s NUKE, Blackmagic Fusion & Resolve, Autodesk Flame and more. Available on macOS, Windows, and Linux. A Silhouette standalone license can run either the standalone or plug-in.
Cycle Active Node Menu Keyboard Shortcuts Alt-]
Cycles to the next node in the Node pop-up menu. Alt-[
Cycles to the previous node in the Node pop-up menu.
Math Composite Node Now Affects Alpha
The Math Composite node can now affect the Alpha channel. A Channels pop-up menu with RGB (the default), RGBA and Alpha are the available choices.
Nodes can be tagged as a Favorite allowing them to be grouped separately in the Favorites tab of the Nodes window. You can tag a node as a Favorite by selecting the node (single click) and pressing the Favorite icon located at the top left of the Nodes window.
Time > Hold Node
The new Hold node repeats the specified frame for the duration of the session. Useful for freezing a single painted frame for a clean plate, among other things.
Auto Paint > Frame Range – New Options
Start>Current and Current>End options were added to the Auto Paint > Frame Range pop-up menu.
Paint Only Alpha
A new Paint Only Alpha parameter in the Paint > Node parameter selects either a hard or soft-edged alpha channel when using the Paint Only output. Previously, a hard-edged alpha was the one and only option.
Paint > Output Unpainted Frames Preference
An Output Unpainted Frames option was added to the Paint preferences. Normally, when using the Paint Only output, only painted frames are rendered. This preference renders the blank, unpainted frames as well, so there is a complete sequence.
Exporting Mocha Tracked Layers as 4 Point Corner-Pin
You can now export a Mocha tracked layer as a 4 point corner-pin.
Point Tracker > Apply Behavior
Tracker > Apply is now enabled with only trackers selected and when clicked, a new layer is created and the tracking data is applied to that layer.
Note: If a layer is selected along with the trackers, the tracking data will be applied to the selected layer.
An unrestricted, 15-day trial license can now be obtained automatically.
A Viewer > Onion Skin mode was added to the Viewer. Onion Skin does a mix, as defined by the Mix value, between the current frame and either previous or later frames. This is useful for creating frame by frame, hand-painted animations.
Stereo Align > Mix Mode
A Viewer > Stereo Alignment Type > Mix preference option is now available for the Viewer > Stereo Align mode.
Silhouette 2020.5 now uses Python 3.
VFX Reference Platform 2020
Silhouette 2020.5 now adheres to the VFX Reference Platform 2020.
Paint Auto Paint – Delete Key
The Delete key now deletes the selection in the Auto Paint window.
Blemish and Grain Brushes Now Randomize
The Blemish and Grain brushes now randomize from frame to frame.
Clone > Red Triangle/Exclamation Point
The red triangle/exclamation point icon in the Paint > Clone tabs was changed to a green dot.
Actions > Copy > Selection Moved/Renamed
Actions > Copy > Selection was moved and renamed to Edit > Copy Selection.
Cursor Position Color Values
The cursor position color values when in the Paint node are now displayed in the Status Bar.
Hide Disconnected Inputs
Disconnected inputs are now hidden from the Paint and Roto View menus.
Zoom Default to Fit
The default zoom is set to Fit when activating a source or Session.
Alpha Only Render Issues
Alpha only renders from Silhouette either crashed when re-imported or couldn’t be displayed.
Freehand Tool In Tracked Layer – Spline In Wrong Place
The Freehand tool was not using the layer transform during shape creation. This could also affect Magnetic shapes in certain cases.
Layer Center Motion Vector Used Layer Center
In the Tracker, when viewing the motion vectors for a selected layer, the center of the layer rectangle was used instead of the layer’s position + anchor.
Flare Editor Crash
Clicking in the Flare Editor Viewer, but not on a control point, caused a crash.
When View > Occlusion was selected with no Occlusion input, Silhouette crashed.
License Window Loop After Deactivation
After deactivating, selecting Cancel cycled between the Silhouette license window and the Boris FX license tool. The only way to stop it was to activate or run in demo mode.
Automatically Created Track Layers Not Really Selected
If you had a selected shape in the Mocha tracker and tracked, a new layer was created, the shape was placed in the layer and it was tracked. After tracking, the layer appeared to be selected, but the track controls were grayed out. To track again, you had to click on the selected layer to really select it and you could then track again.
Mocha Tracker With GPU Enabled In Hi-Res Sessions
The integrated Mocha tracker drifted with the Tracker > Mocha > Use GPU If Available preference enabled.
Mocha Stopped After 5 Frames
The integrated Mocha tracker stopped after 5 frames the second time you tracked using Mocha.
Multi-part EXR File Crash
EXR layers containing only alpha or only two channels caused a crash in the Sources window when set to Thumbnails view.
OCIO Initialization Failure
When using the ACES OCIO config, the OCIO processor would not initialize because the sRGB view was named differently. This could cause a crash on startup.
Align Mode Wrong With Source Match Move
When using Source Match Move, Clone > Align was not positioned correctly.
Clone > Interactive and Region
With Interactive enabled, turning Region on and then off caused Interactive to not work, but the Interactive button was still highlighted.
Clone > Warp Cursor Flashed in Onion Skin Mode
The Clone > Warp cursor flashed while moving it when Onion Skin is on.
Cutout Brush Not Saving
If you painted a stroke with the Cutout brush, the result was not saved on the frames you painted on.
Paint Only – Undo Strokes Appear
Strokes removed with Undo appeared in the Paint Only output.
Arrow Cursor Sticks On – Mac
When using a pen/tablet on Mac, if you slowly moved over a sash, the cursor changed to a split icon and stuck on. You had to hit Esc to get rid of it.
Stroke Tool Not Selecting Paint State
When using the Stroke tool, the associated paint state changes, like brush size and opacity changes, were not selected.
Tracker Node > Black Viewer
When hooking a source into a Tracker node, the Viewer was black until the cache was cleared.
Viewer > Node Selector Pop-up Menu Did Not Open
The Viewer > Node selector intermittently did not open.
Weighted Keyframe Crash
If you there was only 1 keyframe, pressing Alt-K and then OK or Cancel caused Silhouette to crash.
Changes Enable Source > Extend Duration On By Default
Source > Extend Duration is now enabled by default. This means that the head and tail frames of a sequence are extended outside of the work range and that single frame imports exist on all frames.
Timeline > Show Work Range On By Default
Timeline > Show Work Range is now on by default. This allows keyframes set in the work range to be visible when different from the Session frame range.
Bug Fixes Legacy Feather Did Not Work
Legacy feathering did not work.
Node Name Error
Certain OFX nodes had legacy naming in the Node window.
Nuke 9+ Exporter Issues
• The Silhouette Motion Blur > Samples value was not transferring to the Nuke Motion Blur > Global > motionblur parameter.
• The Silhouette Shutter Phase value was not transferring to the Nuke Motion Blur > Global > shutter offset parameter.
Open Spline Feather Handles Couldn’t Be Hidden
Alt-F now toggles open spline feather handles on and off.
ROI Keyframes Not Saved With Project
ROI keyframes were not saved with the project.
RotoOverlay Was Opening By Default
The RotoOverlay window was opening by default and was not supposed to.
Shift-Alt Did Not Work For Stereo Align
The Shift-Alt shortcut did not work for stereo alignment.
Viewer Proxy Resolution Problems Paint Node
The Paint node displayed a cropped image in the Viewer at proxy resolutions.
When Viewer proxy resolutions were used with a Transform node, images of a
different size than the Session were blank in the Viewer.
Features Copying/Pasting Mocha Trackers & Shapes to Silhouette
Shapes and trackers copied to the clipboard in Mocha can now be pasted into a Silhouette Roto node. Requires Mocha Pro 7.0.2 or later.
Changes Make Disabled Nodes More Obvious
To make it clearer when a node is disabled, there is now an X over the node while disabled.
Mocha Tracker Status Window – Initializing Message
When using the Mocha tracker, an “Initializing” message appears in the tracking status window while the GPU shaders compile prior to tracking.
Paint > Subpixel > Speed Up
Some Paint > Clone brush filters, like Sinc, take longer to process. If there is no transform and no Clone offset, Silhouette will use a fast processing path regardless of the Subpixel setting.
Request a Trial Screen – Removed Host ID
The Host ID was removed from the Request a Trial screen as it was not needed.
Bug Fixes Composite Node Crash
The Composite node could crash when working with different sized foreground and background inputs.
Trees Window Won’t Zoom In Until You Zoom Out
You had to zoom out before you could zoom in to the Trees window.
Windows Crash On Startup
Windows could crash or exit unexpectedly during startup.
What’s New in Silhouette 2020:
Integrated Mocha tracking now included at no extra charge
New Roto tools: Magnetic splines with edge snapping, RotoOverlay previews and Weighted Keyframe creation to change the timing of shape animations
New Paint tools: New Dodge, Burn and Detail brushes as well as a frequency (detail) separation workflow for improved retouching
Improved Planar Tracker: Group tracking of multiple planar surfaces in addition to tracking non-planar surfaces through overlapping shapes
New nodes DOD and Extract Detail
New interface enhancements: Multiple Viewers, Node and Object windows; Streamlined Workspace and more
New bundle options: Add the Mocha Pro plug-in for Silhouette for increased tracking and VFX workflows
SilhouetteFX was created by the developer of Elastic Reality, Perry Kivolowitz. Mr. Kivolowitz contacted me a few days after this article was first published, thanking me for the shout out. He is a Faculty Associate in the computer sciences department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison as well as a partner at SilhouetteFX and was the cofounder and president at both Profound Effects, Inc. and Elastic Reality. I asked him if he would mind elaborating on morphing in SilhouetteFX.
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