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Creating Droplets with Adobe Photoshop

*In addition to this tutorial, GeniusDV has an exellent tutorial on how Photoshop droplets works directly within Avid Xpress / Media Composer or your favorite non-linear editing software such as Final Cut Pro

One of the most powerful tools in the Photoshop arsenal is the ability to automate tasks for batch processing image files. When I photograph a job for a client, I run every photo through an automated script to adjust levels and sharpen the images a bit. You can use the same technique to automatically convert a folder full of images to Black and White, or Sepia-toned photos to use in a slide show or to insert into a movie project.

The example I'll describe will apply a twirl filter from the filter menu to a folder containing fireworks photos. Any process you can do to a single photo, you can save and apply to a folder full of images, including cropping, scaling, copying, rotating or even applying a custom logo overlay.

First, I always recommend moving the folder of images you will be working on to the desktop. It's not essential, but it helps to isolate the folder from every other folder that you may not want to customize. Next, make a copy of the folder and its' contents. Never work on your original files, unless you are absolutely sure you will like the results, or unless you forgot to backup files for the last year and have nearly run out of disk space. On a Mac, select the folder and press 'Apple+D' to 'Duplicate' the folder and its contents. Windows, right click, and select 'Copy', then paste the folder to your desktop.


Let's begin. Open the first file in the folder. Use the filter menu to select Filter > Distort > Twirl, and choose the degree of twist that you find appealing. When you record your actions for the script, you will also need to close the file and save it to your folder to record that action as well. Don't do that now, just close the file without saving, but remember your filter settings. In some cases you can choose an alternate folder to save a copy of the file to, but that often requires you to choose the specific format that the final file is to be saved as, so in this case, we'll replace the original 'duplicated' file.

Now find your 'Actions palette. If it isn't already displayed in its default position behind the History palette, then go to the Window menu, and check the selection beside ÒActions.' For this tutorial, I have dragged the Actions palette off its dialog box over the photograph as shown. Select 'New Set' and name the set 'Twirl' so you'll remember what this script set does. You can add other twirl scripts to this set and select from them later if you want.


Now go back to the same menu and select 'New Action' and name it 'Twirl and Save.' When you create a new action, the program knows you intend to record and save this action, so you will see a 'Record' button to press to begin the process.


Go to the filter menu and select Filter > Distort > Twirl and release. Choose the twist level you selected previously. When you click OK, you will notice that the Actions menu has recorded the percentage you selected.

Now close the image file and select 'Save.' Then click the 'Stop' button on the bottom of the Actions palette.

Now you've done the hard part. You have recorded a simple script which will perform the identical action to every photo in a folder. Next, we'll add one more step which will create a droplet. A Droplet shows itself as an icon, to which you drag a folder to process, much as you can drag a file to an application alias to launch the program and open the file.

Select File > Automate and look at the choices you have:


You can choose the folder you just worked on for a batch process, create a droplet, make a contact sheet as photographers used to do with strips of film for proofing, convert PDFs to PSD files, make picture packages to send to your ink-jet printer, and even create web-site photo albums to showcase your images on the web. Take the time to investigate these automated labor-savers!

Now, choose 'Create Droplet' from the Automate menu. The last Action you created becomes the default, but you can scroll through the list of canned actions and create a droplet from any of them. Choose the location to save it to, in our case, the Desktop, neme it 'Twirl' and you're done! When you click on your desktop, you'll see a new icon, named 'Twirl'.


Before we drag the fireworks copy folder to the droplet, you'll probably want to replace the first photo which your script building already edited, with the original from the original folder. Copy and paste the first photo from the original fireworks folder and paste to replace the first photo in the fireworks copy folder. Otherwise, you will apply the twist filter twice to that first photo.


When you've done that, drag the Fireworks Copy folder over the Twirl Droplet, and release. Photoshop will launch, and you'll be able to watch the automated process open, process, save and close every photo until each one has been completed.

Now, contemplate just how much time you'll save adjusting levels and sharpening those vacation photos, compared to having to do them all one-at-a time, as you enjoy knowing another exciting professional secret, using Adobe Photoshop!

Here is the composite, before and after.


All the Best! 

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Previewing DVC Pro HD Video was the previous entry in this blog.

Avid Express Pro and Loop Selected Clip is the next entry in this blog.

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