Design Proposal: Effect Strips vs. Strip Settings

VSE Effects and Filtes doubles and are implemented in 3 different ways.

The very same effect functions in the Effect Strips, in the Color Mix strip and in the Sidebar panel:

Effect strips doubles in Color Mix strip:

Effect Strips doubles in the Blend Modes:

Color Mix Strip doubles in the Blend Modes:

The general opinion in the VSE chat is that most of the Effect Strips are unneeded and clutter the timeline and should be removed if possible.

Observations on the Effect Strips:

  • Add, Subtract and Multiply. Needs two inputs. Has no slider for changing the amount.

  • Overdrop, Alpha Over, Alpha Under. Needs two inputs. Has Default Fade option. When checked a Fader Slider shows up. Without this slider option the effect is useless, because without it, it just show the one of the strips with no transparency.

  • Color Mix. Needs two inputs. Has a Blend Mode and a Blend Factor. The latter doesn’t have any effect(must be a bug?).

  • Multicam Selector. Needs more than two channels below. This Effect should have a button to auto split the preview into a main screen(channel 0), and below this make a line of the additional channels - each with a button to make that channel the active one at that frame.

  • Transform. Needs one input. Has several options. Position X, Y is also in the Adjust Sidebar panel. Should all of the Transform options go into the Sidebar or the other way around? Patch to transform in Preview is waiting(needs improvement?).

  • Speed Control UI is a mess. Needs one input. Patches to improve strip drawing(needs improvement?) and panel(needs improvement?), are waiting.

  • Glow, Gaussian Blur. Needs one input. Has several options. All working. Odd: if more strips are selected, the effect will only be added to the overlap area.

More odd Filter things:

  • When Offset isn’t checked, Crop actually stretches the strip.
  • When Offset is checked, Left and Bottom will offset the Strip and Right and Top will actually crop the strip.
  • The Transform strip seems to do the correct things, but has no crop.

Questions are:

  • Should all of the two input effects only be available in the Adjust > Compositing > Blend Mode, but with the options added here(there is no options now and no blend factor)? Or if there is an advantage of having them as strip, then maybe all of them could be collected in Color Mix?
  • Should all of the one input effects only be available as filters in the Adjust > Compositing?
  • Should the multi input MultiCam have the UX improved?
  • If the effects are moved away from the strips, should there be some other kind of effect/filter indicator on the strip or not?
  • If changed, what to do with backward compatibility?
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Should all of the two input effects only be available in the Adjust > Compositing > Blend Mode, but with the options added here(there is no options now and no blend factor)? Or if there is an advantage of having them as strip, then maybe all of them could be collected in Color Mix?

You can have stack of strips say ABCDEF. With effect strip you can do:
A=image
B=image, alpha over A
C=image
D=substract(A,C)
E=transform(B), alpha over D
F=adjustment

You couldn’t do this without blend effect strip.
Technically, yes all blend types could be included in color mix.

Should all of the one input effects only be available as filters in the Adjust > Compositing?

No, compositing by definition requires at least 2 inputs.

Should the multi input MultiCam have the UX improved?

Not using this feature, so can’t say on top of my head. Also this is quite off-topic

If the effects are moved away from the strips, should there be some other kind of effect/filter indicator on the strip or not?

You technically can draw overlay visualizing relationships for complex timelines, I can see this as rarely used, but possibly useful feature. This would work regardless of existance of effects.

If changed, what to do with backward compatibility?

Depends on what is changed and how.

Over all I don’t think any design change is needed at this point.

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Is the conclusion that since the effect strips do have a unique value that should be kept, but can be collected in the Color Mix strip?

If this is the case, we’ll need to check if all functionality is working as expected, and all Blend effect strips have a working Blend Factor slider(doesn’t seem to be the case currently).

The one input effect strips like Transform, Glow, Blur also have unique advantages as strips, and is allowed to double the Adjust options.

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The whole concept of the effect strips is mostly historical. Most users are better off simply setting individual clips to use a certain blend mode, and they also should probably use modifiers to adjust colors and do effects.

Effects strips are non-standard and also usually annoying, since they clutter up the timeline very quickly. We could simply decide to remove them altogether.

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The whole concept of the effect strips is mostly historical. Most users are better off simply setting individual clips to use a certain blend mode, and they also should probably use modifiers to adjust colors and do effects.

Yes, most users.
But we are talking design so we need to think about edge cases.

Effects strips are non-standard and also usually annoying, since they clutter up the timeline very quickly. We could simply decide to remove them altogether.

Not sure if we could do it simply as well.

Thing is that there are 3 stages of processing:
Modifiers and most properties (scaling, crop, etc) are applied in preprocessing stage.
Effects are applied after that stage.
Blending and opacity is allpied in compositing stage.

As a programmer, this is quite awful, and I would like to linearize this process.
As low end user I would be OK with using modifiers to do all what I need, because I don’t need to do much.
If I want to go crazy however, I would hate using modifiers even more than effects. Nodes would be nice here…
So yes, we could get rid of effect strips, but we need a usable replacement for “go crazy” mode.

I would advocate for possibility of using node editor, because I could then rewrite whole pipeline as nodes and use linear process under the hood.
Having possibility to make my node setup as reusable template can make workflows faster and timeline cleaner.

This is Idea that I am brewing in my head for quite some time, but I don’t think that now is the time to realize it.

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So a short term task is to collect all Blend strips in the Color Mix strip(Over Drop, Alpha Over, Alpha Under are missing) and fix the Blend Factor bug(isn’t working at all). The task can be added here: https://developer.blender.org/T64682

Tasks on module page are tasks that module owners and developers plan to work on.
I don’t plan to work on that right now.

I can review and commit such patch if it “lands on my desk” and I am not pressed by time.

So where do we communicate such a task to potential new developers?
(The fact that the Color Mix Blend Factor is broken could be reported as a bug, but the cleaning up is not for the bug tracker, so where should that go, then?)

Part of the reason why effects strips are confusing, is because adjusting the compositing affects the effects strip, not the compositing between the clips that are affected. They are just a very confusing concept IMO.

I think users are better off just not using effects strip for putting things together in the Sequencer. More complex compositing should be done with compositing nodes anyway.

If you want to do things that are more complex than what modifiers and regular mixing allows, you are just much better off using comp nodes.

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Sure, but implementing nodes for that kind of work, would be a long term task. Instead of just living with messy and broken features, a small short term task could improve it a lot. And this task seems simple enough for a new contributor to deal with, but that will only happen, if that is communicated somehow. Apparently have we no such place for doing that…

Compositing nodes already exist today. We could simply remove effects strips.

So, is it really an issue of Compositing nodes aren’t integrated with the Sequencer or just that this option is not exposed? Ex. among the node inputs I only see MovieClip and no Sequence, and there is no UI in the Sequencer to roundtrip a selection of strips in the Node Editor.

Simple things like adding logo/text animation on top of the footage is very convenient using VSE and effects (transform, blur, etc). Using compositing nodes for such things would be overkill and quite slow to playback as well as setup often.

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For adding logos or text you don’t need effects strips.