Surfaces

Surfaces behave like smart groups which mask and warp content placed inside of it to match the real world scene. Surfaces simplify the content creation process for complex real-world scenes through an entirely 2D workflow.

  1. Overview
  2. Creating Masks & Surfaces
  3. Modifying Perspective
  4. Reusing Surfaces

Overview

Content creation in Lightform Creator is powered by the Smart Scan image and user-defined Surfaces.

In Lightform Creator, content such as images, videos, and effects, live within a Surface. The Surface behaves like a smart group that masks and warps the content placed inside of it to match the real-world scene.

Surface_Folder_2x.png

This allows users to quickly augment or add digital content to pixels that have been aligned and perspectively corrected without needing to use 3D tools or create a 3D model of the scene beforehand.


Creating Masks & Surfaces

In most content creation software, content and objects are often created in arbitrary positions based on the user's preference and masks are optional. In projected augmented reality, the position and orientation of content are predetermined by the scene being augmented.

In Lightform Creator, you create surfaces on top of the Scan Image and then apply content to the surface. Surfaces are created using any of the masking tools - the Pen, Shape, Magic Wand, Quick Select, or Brush tool. By creating a surface, you are in effect, masking out a part of the real world that you’d like to augment.

Surface_Flow.png

mceclip0.png

Fit Accuracy: This slider adjusts the accuracy between the mask and the generated curve. Higher values mean more vertices in your surface and a closer fit.

Once a mask is completed, a Surface is automatically created so that content can be seamlessly added to it. Each content element inside the Surface has its own layer but shares the same mask of the parent Surface. 


Modifying Perspective

The Perspective Warp tool allows users to modify the perspective of content and warp it onto non-planar objects to approximate 3D surfaces using 2D tools. 

Changing the perspective of content is useful for when your projector is not pointing directly at a flat surface, but you want your content to look as if it is flat/undistorted when playing back. A common example is projecting an image or video on a frame; using the corners of Perspective Warp, you can quickly adjust your content to fit correctly inside the frame. By pinning the Asset layer's corners to the corresponding corners of the Surface, the perspective of the content is shifted to match the perspective of the frame. 

perspectiveWarp.gif

This is also known as “corner pinning”, or the adjustment of planar perspective of a rectangular piece of content. Corner pinning uses 4 points to construct a new 3D perspective of the content.

Initially, the content is aligned/parallel to the image plane. By modifying the corners, the perspective of the content is changed so that the vanishing points for this content are now defined by vertical and horizontal line segments. There is also a 3D interpretation of this, namely that by modifying the corners, a 3D rotation can be solved for and applied to this content to make the content appear as if it is being viewed from this new perspective. 

To corner pin, select a surface and click the Perspective Warp icon in the Toolbar or press W. Drag a corner of the Asset layer and release to pin it in place. Corner pinning edits can be reset by clicking the Reset button in the Properties Panel under Perspective.

Learn more about the Perspective Warp tool.


Reusing Surfaces

When one Surface is created, it is reusable on every Slide in the project. Unique content can be added to the same Surface on every individual Slide. 

If you refine the mask or perspective of the main Surface, it applies globally to every slide. We designed slides to work in this way to make adjusting the content in your scene much more efficient.

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    johannes versloot

    Hi Lightform, is it possible to combine multiple surfaces to one canvas?  e.g. I have 2 surfaces next to each other but with a gap in between. I want to use those two surfaces as one canvas.

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    Dan Medwin

    Same question!  I'd like to be able to group 2 or more surfaces into one large surface.  Can this be done?

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    David Liu

    +1, also looking for how to group multiple masks into the same surface

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    Anum

    Hi David Liu thanks for upvoting the feature request. I am sharing your feedback with our product team.

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    David Leonardi

    Hi Anum, I have a similar question to the others.

    I am currently trying to map a small paper pyramid, which has 3 triangles as basic shapes.

    I'd like for each facet of the triangle to have it's own perspective and a shared effect between the whole pyramid, but i cannot find a way to have one facet share the same effect of the adjacent facet.

    Furthermore, it's not really straightforward how to do the corner pinning for a triangular shape. It would be great if someone could produce a few howto videos showing this :)

    Thanks!

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    Anum

    Hi David Leonardi,

    If you'd like for each facet of the triangle to have its own perspective, you could:

    • create a separate Surface for each facet
    • insert your content into one Surface
    • right-click the content layer and hit 'Duplicate'
    • drag the duplicated layer to the other surface (repeat for all facets)
    • use the Perspective Warp tool with each content layer to fix the perspective

    When adjusting the perspective on triangular shapes, you have to imagine the triangle as being part of a quad so it can be helpful to align the content to the base of the triangle and estimate where the remaining 2 perspective points have to be.

    Additionally, if you are using our Built-in Effects, they do not take perspective into consideration since they are based on the scan image.

    I hope this helps!