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Thread: Nik Software Viveza

  1. #1
    asabet
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    Nik Software Viveza

    Anyone else playing with this? At $250, it's probably too steep for me, but I am enjoying the trial enough that I might just take the plunge. I put together a brief video demonstration here in case anyone is interested.

  2. #2
    hgmoore
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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    NAPP has a $50 off promotion on this software. You need to be a NAPP member to get it.

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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    I had actually contacted Nik software several weeks ago, asking if they were considering another "professional bundle" that would be packaged with Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete (filters, film styles, etc.) , Dfine 2.0 (NR plug-in) and Sharpener Pro 2.0 Complete (output sharpening). They were considering, but did not have it yet, nor a price. The technology is very nice. I have been using the Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete lately, and am getting very nice results. The Viveza plug-ins would add an incredible dimension of control for adjustments of sections or tonal ranges in images. The demo video gives a good idea of its power.

    They only have it for sale online at present, and will not have the physical media (DVD) out until next month. May not be an issue for folks, but thought to toss that out there for consideration. It looks like pretty slick stuff that takes layers and masks to a very simple operation with lots of flexibility.

    (I also asked if they were considering plug-ins for Aperture, but they were non-committal on that. After thinking more about it, the layers and masking concept that Viveza and the other Nik tools use may not be easily translated to instruction set building which Aperture and Lightroom use. Really do not know. However, the plug-ins work nicely in PS, with the one exception of Sharpener Pro 2.0 not working natively on Intel Macs running OS X 10.5.x. Need to run PS in Rosetta for that.....not good. All other stuff runs nicely on my G5 and MBP, one in Tiger and one in Leopard.)

    LJ
    Last edited by LJL; 10th March 2008 at 14:04.

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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Quote Originally Posted by asabet View Post
    Anyone else playing with this? At $250, it's probably too steep for me, but I am enjoying the trial enough that I might just take the plunge. I put together a brief video demonstration here in case anyone is interested.
    I watched your video and that looks pretty neat. I'm not ready for it yet want to get better on layers and mask in photoshop first.

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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Terry,
    It is great to learn all the PS stuff, and to become proficient to some degree. However, unless you are also good at creating actions or something too, it is a huge time sink for anything but doing a few nice shots at a time or so. The one thing that Viveza and Color Efex Pro do is to automatically create those layers and masks after you decide what adjustments you want. You can still turn them on and off, as well as play with the masks it creates for further fine tuning. (That is where is does help to understand how to use layers and masks in greater depth.)

    Personally, I think that these sort of plug-ins by Nik Software are great for two main uses: those that would like to spend a bit of time learning the Nik software and exploring different effects to use on occasion; and those folks that are doing a lot more production work on lots of images. Things like portrait shooting, weddings, and stuff like that where you are producing a number of shots that are all needing similar kinds of work to impart a "look" or style. Needless to say, I am liking these tools, and no, I am not repping them or anything like that. They are pricey, however, and if you go the full bore bundle and all tools, you are looking at costs well above PS CS3 Extended plus a few simple tools. I do find the flexibility of application in the Nik tools to be quite good, and I recently compared results for noise reduction (their Dfine tool) against Noise Ninja, and sharpening (their Sharpener Pro tool) against PhotoKit Sharpener that I have been using, and the Nik tools get the job done very nicely and with more local control easier than using the various brush tools in the other apps.

    If you have some things that could be fun playing around with, such as some of those shots from Moab, testing things with the free demo download may be worth it at some point. Learning good layer and masking techniques in PS is still really helpful, but it does take some dedication, I think, and I have not found it easy to do in a production work mode. (I probably need to learn how to build more actions and stuff for that, but I already feel like I am spending too much time at the computer and not enough shooting now.)

    LJ

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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Amin,
    That is a very nice video that you put together. I really enjoyed watching it. I too, don't mind doing it the old fashioned way with layers and masks, but it is tempting, as I am a NAAP member. I may give the demo a trial.

  7. #7
    asabet
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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Thanks Cindy. Let me know what you think if you give the trial a go.

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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    thank you, Amin, that was superb! i've downloaded the trial but am loathe to start playing with it since i'm having surgery on my arm on friday -- i want to get my two weeks worth.... this software really interests me because i really need to try and cut the time i work on an image.

    a question for those that have played around with it: i work most of my images into black and white. would you suggest doing that before or after refining the image in Viveza (or a little of both)?

  9. #9
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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Cam,
    Good luck with your arm surgery....cannot be fun....hope you heal up quickly.

    I have not yet downloaded Viveza, so I cannot speak to how you might do the B/W conversions adjustments. Some folks make all their adjustments on the color files and then take things to B/W, while others convert to gray and then make adjustments that simulate filter applications, etc. It seems that either may be possible with Viveza, though if you convert to B/W first, you will only have gray scale tones to work on. Amin may have a lot more to offer here.

    Another Nik Software plug-in that I mentioned (Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete) actually has a variety of film type effects including B/W films and even grain. I have not really had much chance to play with it, but it does look promising. One would start with the color first, convert to film type and make some tweaks from there. Again, not sure how much control one loses or gains on specific colors that are now rendered as gray tones only.

    As an aside, I like doing my B/W conversion in Aperture, as it provides some nice filter effects that can be adjusted. They apply to the entire image, however, unlike what one could do with Viveza first, to highlight specifics, and then come back and convert to B/W afterward.

    Viveza looks to work on much narrower sections of an image and the tonal gradients in that more confined area. That seems attractive, if you then just do a simple grayscale conversion after that on the flattened layers. However, Viveza does have direct saturation, hue, contrast, etc., controls for specific points and selected ranges, so you may be able to handle the entire image differently. In Amin's really nice video, he showed the adjustments as a completed application to the image, essentially flattening all the layers and masks that were created. Another choice is to select the "Brush" option which then allows you paint in the adjustments to specific parts of the image. (It creates a layer mask and allows you to control what you paint in or erase, as well as the opacity of the effect, so you can get very detailed and subtle control, even within a specific area you have adjusted. Pretty powerful stuff.)

    Sorry if this sounds confusing or does not answer your question, but it is a good one, and there are several kinds of tools that might work together to allow for some nicely enhanced images. I know you can do a lot of nice conversions and stuff in Color Efex Pro 3.0, plus add specific film grain patterns also, that Viveza does not do, but that may not be what you are trying to achieve. I am thinking that using both would provide some interesting creative capabilities. Guess I need to download Viveza and start playing with it myself, and see how it works in conjunction with Color Efex, which I already have and use.

    Good question and creative options that others may know more about.

    LJ
    Last edited by LJL; 11th March 2008 at 04:15.

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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    thank you, LJ!

    not confusing at all. like i said, i'm looking to lessen the time at the computer. (even after surgery, this will probably always be my achilles' heel -- less time at the computer means i can tolerate shooting more.)

    up until now i've done adjustments before and after the BW conversion. i prefer to fine tune after, but it seems the control points might work more effectively on colour -- hence my questioning. my BF does his conversions in Aperture as well. i personally prefer Alien Skin in PS as i can see the different tonalities quickly and modify the various channels, etc. i can get very geeky about my black and whites

    i don't do colour often, but when i do -- i do need help (i've always been drawn to black and white). have you tried Alien Skin Exposure? can you compare it to Color Efex? i'd love it if you could go into more depth about the various software vs. NN and Photokit since i was looking at the Pro Bundle as well and wondering if they were offering one with Viveza. you answered that question... perhaps by the time i'm functional again?

  11. #11
    asabet
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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Cam and LJ, thanks for the kind words about the video! For B&W in general, I'm pretty fond of Alien Skin Exposure and haven't tried Nik's product yet. I'd imagine that Viveza would be most powerful working on the color tones prior to B&W conversion, but I haven't tried yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    In Amin's really nice video, he showed the adjustments as a completed application to the image, essentially flattening all the layers and masks that were created. Another choice is to select the "Brush" option which then allows you paint in the adjustments to specific parts of the image. (It creates a layer mask and allows you to control what you paint in or erase, as well as the opacity of the effect, so you can get very detailed and subtle control, even within a specific area you have adjusted. Pretty powerful stuff.
    Yes, the the brush is a neat feature. Another important thing I left out, however, is that by default the entire Viveza-treated image is made on a separate layer. Thus, even if Viveza did not have a separate brush function, it would be easy to use any Photoshop brush to selectively apply any number of Viveza layers. Thus, I don't so much mind the circular approach they have taken. If only the price were closer to $100, I'd spring for it right away. I'm not saying that they're overcharging. It just isn't worth that much to me.

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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Cam,
    I have not tried Alien Skin, but I have heard it gets pretty high marks. (Having enough trouble keeping up with all the tools now, so I have to resist on some things....)

    I did go back into Nik's Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete plug-in earlier. I pulled up an image and selected the "B/W Conversion" for it. It creates that same window that Amin showed, but the tools on the right are for B/W. There is a color slider, so that you can pick any color "filter" you want to apply, much like Aperture, but even more finely tuned. You also have control over contrast and brightness, as expected, and you can place specific points on the image, same as Viveza, tuning those how you would like for B/W. (The points in Color Efex are a bit different than Viveza. Same concept, but the controls on each point are only for opacity and tonal range. Makes sense, since you are doing the other adjusts as the complete filter.) The concept for Color Efex is a bit different, but it may ultimately provide more control, as you can create multiple layers with specific spot adjustments, and paint those in as you need. I have created some color images that had as many as 8-10 layers and masks to make the kinds of adjustments I wanted for all sorts of things that the app does (gradients, film grain, simulated reflector, polarizer, glamour glow, skin softening, pro contrast adjustment, etc.). In PS, they can be saved as separate layers with masks in the PSD file, or as Amin showed, you can merge them dow to a single layer, but then you lose individual layer adjustments.

    In the end, these Nik tools are pretty powerful, and make the entire layer and masking process very simple. They take a bit of time to learn all the tricks, but not nearly as much as trying to brute through PS, especially for some things you do not do often.

    I know I sound like I am repping them or something, but I really am not. I have been watching their tech for a few years, and finally decided to give it try lately, since I am doing more portrait work and I really hate all the work to get nice clean glowing skin for some of the women. The guys look better with higher contrast and a more edgy look, but many women prefer the magazine cover look, and that takes a lot of work in PS if you are not practiced.

    LJ

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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Amin,
    Your video got me looking at things like SnapzPro and others to do a few of these myself. Not competing with your excellent walk through, but more to just show some things in small clips for folks trying to learn stuff, like creating alternative Libraries in Aperture ;-) (I really do not have the time for doing this, but I think it is such a powerful way to explain things to folks. Words are great, but moving pictures can really connect more with some.) So what did you use to create your video, if I may ask?

    To your point.....this stuff seems pretty pricey, and hence my asking about bundles where there is some break on price for getting several useful tools. They also have some sort of educational pricing, if that may be applied somehow, so that is worth looking into for a price break too. My philosophy is that if the tool can shorten my time at the computer, improve the final results, and that translates to more sales, I am interested ;-) I figure that on my next portrait session, I will do a bunch of really cool things and wind up increasing sales enough there to cover the cost of the apps in one shot. That makes sense for me. But for folks that are not trying to crank out stuff to clients all the time, the entry cost is pretty high for some of this.

    LJ

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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Amin, LJ, thank you for your responses! like i said, i'm sitting on my hands until *after* surgery as i have no idea what my down time will be (argh!!!)... guess i'm living vicariously through your experimentation. so thank you

    Amin -- you are ggetting the DP1, no? i'll be very interested in your thoughts on it. i was going to look this week, but am saving that trip until after. possibly as a little tease -- new camera overcoming pain and the like. i'll have to be much slower and deliberate for a while with my street shots. tempting, tempting, tempting!

    LJ -- thank you especially for looking at the BW conversions. i definitely think Alien Skin is better for that (plus, i'm super comfortable working with it). the other filters, while really cool, aren't that necessary for me at this point. i tend to push my pics for a harsher look, male or female. i go for character rather than glamour. i'm just no good with pretty shots.

    i think Viveza is much more what i'm looking for. as i said, i tend to push hard and have a harsher look. this can cause my highlights to get blown, my shadows with too little detail. i tend to like the look, but i guess i often go too far and it's distracting for many people's taste... trying to find that happy medium where i can get extremes without losing all the details, sigh.

    as for either of you doing more videos, i'm all for that! it's such a wonderful tool for newbees and experienced people as well. Aperture, especially, could use that as it is not all that intuitive in the beginning. i'm in the process of taking everything out of it before i switch to 2 as my laptop just can't handle the preview size i had. (i'm very grateful i had set it slightly too large, though, as i otherwise would have completely lost december when a new hard drive with the originals died. until i can afford to revive it, at least i have a taste of them.)

  15. #15
    asabet
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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    Amin,
    Your video got me looking at things like SnapzPro and others to do a few of these myself. Not competing with your excellent walk through, but more to just show some things in small clips for folks trying to learn stuff, like creating alternative Libraries in Aperture ;-) (I really do not have the time for doing this, but I think it is such a powerful way to explain things to folks. Words are great, but moving pictures can really connect more with some.) So what did you use to create your video, if I may ask?
    Hi LJ, no worries about competition here. I'm just doing this for fun . I used SnapzPro to capture the video in H.264 at 24 frames/second; video settings were "hgih quality/best depth." Audio setting was IMA 4:1, 22kHz , 16 bit. I selected the entire display for capture (1440 x 900) and the resized the video to 50% (720 x 450) when saving. I then uploaded to Viddler (www.viddler.com). Viddler is a nice sevice because 1) It is free; 2) It will allow me to upload and display at relatively large size/high quality; 3) It allows viewers to tag or place a comment directly on the video (displayed in the timeline) at any point, much the way one can comment directly on a Flickr photo; and 4) One can embed or link to videos to begin at any point in the video, not just the beginning. For the audio component of the video, I used the built-in mic on the iMac, which didn't sound great, especially since I was speaking softly so as to not attract the attention of my two young sons watching TV in the next room. Also, I could have used hgher audio compression, but I left it at default. Hope that helps!

  16. #16
    asabet
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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Quote Originally Posted by cam View Post
    Amin -- you are getting the DP1, no? i'll be very interested in your thoughts on it. i was going to look this week, but am saving that trip until after. possibly as a little tease -- new camera overcoming pain and the like. i'll have to be much slower and deliberate for a while with my street shots. tempting, tempting, tempting!
    Hi Cam, yes my DP1 is on pre-order, expected shipping March 25. I'll be posting plenty of examples from that camera, along with comparisons to the Canon 5D and GRD II, in addition to an E-420 when that comes along. Best wishes for a speedy recovery from surgery on your arm!

  17. #17
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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Quote Originally Posted by cam View Post

    LJ -- thank you especially for looking at the BW conversions. i definitely think Alien Skin is better for that (plus, i'm super comfortable working with it). the other filters, while really cool, aren't that necessary for me at this point. i tend to push my pics for a harsher look, male or female. i go for character rather than glamour. i'm just no good with pretty shots.

    i think Viveza is much more what i'm looking for. as i said, i tend to push hard and have a harsher look. this can cause my highlights to get blown, my shadows with too little detail. i tend to like the look, but i guess i often go too far and it's distracting for many people's taste... trying to find that happy medium where i can get extremes without losing all the details, sigh.
    Cam,
    Completely understand what you are describing for the "look" you prefer. I do think that Viveza may allow you to control specifics more on part of the image with less work. Also understand your comfort and familiarity with Alien Skin. Nothing wrong there.....my thoughts are that the best tools are those that one understands and uses a lot to get the results. I like to experiment also, but have a client base that does have some more "traditional" expectations at times, so I need to be able to deliver that also.

    For the harder look you describe, there are ways to achieve that with many tools, but I do like the isolation capabilities of some of these Nik tools. While they are really only adjustment layers and masks that anyone can do in PS with a bit of practice, Nik appears to have brought the tedious task to a more mainstream and usable interface that gives immediate feedback and is easy to undo if you take things to far.

    Best of wishes with your surgery and recovery, and when you start to experiment with this stuff, do share your thoughts and experiences, as I think they help everybody.

    LJ

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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Quote Originally Posted by asabet View Post
    Hi LJ, no worries about competition here. I'm just doing this for fun . I used SnapzPro to capture the video in H.264 at 24 frames/second; video settings were "hgih quality/best depth." Audio setting was IMA 4:1, 22kHz , 16 bit. I selected the entire display for capture (1440 x 900) and the resized the video to 50% (720 x 450) when saving. I then uploaded to Viddler (www.viddler.com). Viddler is a nice sevice because 1) It is free; 2) It will allow me to upload and display at relatively large size/high quality; 3) It allows viewers to tag or place a comment directly on the video (displayed in the timeline) at any point, much the way one can comment directly on a Flickr photo; and 4) One can embed or link to videos to begin at any point in the video, not just the beginning. For the audio component of the video, I used the built-in mic on the iMac, which didn't sound great, especially since I was speaking softly so as to not attract the attention of my two young sons watching TV in the next room. Also, I could have used hgher audio compression, but I left it at default. Hope that helps!

    Amin,
    I was only joking about the competition, as you know Your video was spot on, and I happen to think these sorts of help session or explanations are really useful, and sometimes easier to show than tell.

    Thank you for your inputs on the tools used. I am going to try some of it, once I get past a few assignments that seem to be taking too much prep time right now, and I am afraid of what that bodes for after the shoots.

    I will also look into the hosting service you mentioned (Viddler), as that could provide a bit of interaction for folks also.

    LJ

  19. #19
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: Nik Software Viveza

    Amin:

    Following your recommendation in another thread and after watching your polished video today I tried out Viveza, although, so far, I've only had a superficial look. Keeping in mind that I do mostly B&W my impression is that, while the concept is dazzling, and that I'm interested mainly in the selection capability for dodging and burning, my reaction is that I prefer using LightZine, whose vector selection tools I much prefer because I have easy and omplete control over the shapes I create, which I can see on the monitor and whose feathering is easily and precisely controllable and also visible. The other issue I have with Viveza is that small movements along the brightness and contrast scales result in large, rough changed, although I realize that this is easily controlled by varying the layer opacity. Nevertheless, I find that LightZone gives me easier precise, fine control of both the selection itself and the dodging and burning Ś somehow I find the LightZone approach more direct.

    My feeling is that I would be more interested in Viveza if it were an Aperture 2 plugin: I've been using Aperture 2 for files in which I need a heavy application of highlight recovery because it does it much better than either Lightroom/Photoshop or LightZone; in such cases I could then also do burning and dodging in Aperture 2 by using Viveza, without having to do this in LightZone.

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