Strata MediaPaint

Author: Strata Inc.
Publisher: Strata Inc.
Shared by: that-ben
On: 2017-08-30 19:27:47
Updated by: InkBlot
On: 2023-07-25 15:17:55
Other contributors: MR
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  • About window 
  • Main interface 

What is Strata MediaPaint?

Strata MediaPaint is a powerful 90's video editing app that was ahead of its time back in the mid 90's.  Strata MediaPaint would let 68K and PowerMac users easily add effects and embed graphics on top of videos and sort of do the montage.  In a sense, it's pretty much what iMovie was, but a decade earlier.

Despite all the fanfare surrounding recent movies, creating cinematic special effects remains painstaking and time-consuming. For instance, to eliminate the telephone lines and jet exhaust hovering in the background of a Western set in the 1870s, an artist must go through the scene frame by frame and paint over the wires and jet trails — a technique called rotoscoping.

Sure, computerization helps, hut even with digitized images you often must transfer the affected frames to an image-editing program and edit them one frame at a time. That’s why artists look bleary-eyed when they go up to get their Oscars.

Anyone who produces special effects for QuickTime movies should examine MediaPaint, a program that removes some of the tedium of special-effects work by allowing you to edit ranges of frames. MediaPaint breaks down a movie to its individual frames and lets you copy paint strokes and pixel manipulations from frame to frame, automating rotoscoping tasks. You can even paint on a QuickTime movie as it plays.

You may remember MediaPaint as Video Graffiti. Acquired (from Neil Media) and renamed by Strata, it is now a much improved program that includes alpha-channel capabilities for compositing (superimposing) images, an onionskin tracing feature, and support for pressuresensitive tablets.

MediaPaint is a RAM hog; the program relies on many memory buffers to offer the features it does, so you’ll need to populate your SIMM slots. Though RAM requirements vary depending on the frame size of your movie, working with 640-by-480-pixel images requires a minimum of 3.3MB of RAM — that’s free RAM available to the program, not the total RAM in the Mac. MediaPaint runs on 680X0 Macs, but plan on using a Power Mac (it’s Power Mac native), since programs like this must perform some intensive rendering.

Windows and Layers

When you first open a QuickTime movie in MediaPaint, it appears as a collection of individual frames in the scrollable Filmstrip) window, where MediaPaint stamps each frame with a time code. Though you can’t paint on frames in the Filmstrip window, you can specify In and Out points for applying special effects across a range of frames.

You paint and edit frames in the Document window, where you work in the invisible Paint layer that MediaPaint places over any QuickTime movie you open. MediaPaint preserves the original movie in an inviolable Movie layer to protect it. As you edit frames in the Document window, MediaPaint uses a memory buffer to immediately update those frames in the Filmstrip window. Unfortunately, MediaPaint offers only one level of Undo — unlike the multiple Undo levels in Adobe’s After Effects — which can force you to revert to the last saved version of your movie to eliminate unwanted effects. When you save, MediaPaint creates a new QuickTime file containing your edited movie, separate from the original QuickTime movie file.

Media Painting

If you use Adobe Premiere for QuickTime editing, you have to export your movie as a filmstrip file so you can paint on the movie using Adobe Photoshop, and Photoshop lets you paint only one frame at a time. MediaPaint’s principal strength is the Autocopy mode, which speeds up rotoscoping by transferring paint from frame to frame over the sequence of frames you define. When you select Autocopy New, the program transfers the just-applied paint to subsequent frames. Select Autocopy All, and MediaPaint applies all of your edits in the selected frame to the next frame. Rotoscoping in MediaPaint is fast and easy because you step through the movie frame by frame and tweak the copied effects rather than reapplying your effects for each frame.

Autocopy is a memory buffer, so it always applies the paint from the first selected frame to the second, even if you move backward through the filmstrip. This enhances the versatility of autocopying, since you can create special effects in reverse chronology or skip frames when applying paint to produce special effects with a staccato delivery.

MediaPaint also provides a Stencil layer (actually a memory buffer) that holds PICT images and QuickTime movies. Stencil items appear in a window similar to the Filmstrip window and can be applied to the Paint layer using any of the program’s brushes or filters... For example, you could select a PICT file in the Stencil layer and apply it as a translucent image to an entire frame in the Document window, producing the effect of looking through a reflection-filled window pane.

When the Stencil layer holds a QuickTime movie, the frames in the stencil strip are synchronized (by time codes) with the frames of the movie displayed in the Filmstrip window. As you move back and forth over the length of a movie in the Filmstrip window, the stencil strip tags along, letting you always see the current state of both movies. And since the two movies are always in sync, when you paint the sequence of stencil images over the frames of your target movie, the stencil movie plays inside the frames of your finished edited movie. For example, you could position a QuickTime movie in the Stencil layer to play on a blank TV screen within your target movie, or you could blend a movie containing an animated character with your target movie.

Ghosting and Compositing

MediaPaint’s Lightbox feature acts like digital onionskin paper; you see ghosted images (from frames both before and after the currently selected frame) in the background of the frame being edited in the Document window. You can trace over die ghosted images or use them for reference as you paint, helping you to create smooth progressions in your painted effects over multiple frames.

MediaPaint lets you set alpha-channel values for anything in the Paint layer, so you can seamlessly blend whatever you create with the background movie. Though compositing works well, you can work on only one layer at a time; you have to fuse each layer with the movie before moving to your next layer. Adobe’s After Effects provides more powerful compositing features, especially since you can work with several separate layers simultaneously, but it also carries a $1995 price tag.

MediaPaint also allows you to composite images using the chroma-key technique, similar to the blue-screen superimposition method used in television and film. Wien you’re working with images in the Stencil layer, MediaPaint’s chroma-key feature lets you adjust the transparency of selected (keyed) colors. When you apply the image to the Paint layer, the keyed colors drop out, allowing both previously applied paint and the underlying movie to show through.

Media Tools

Floating palettes hold tools, brushes, colors, patterns, movie controls, and strokes — predefined tool movements that can be used width any brush. An Info palette provides data on cursor location, distance traveled, and angle of movement, for precise positioning of paint elements. If the screen gets too cluttered, you can use the Samples palette, which displays the currently selected items from other palettes.

MediaPaint’s strokes are terrific for automating repetitive effects. You define strokes by painting in the active window while the program records the stroke path. Later, you can use the same path width any tool, in any currently selected color or pattern. And MediaPaint lets you apply strokes over a sequence of frames.

MediaPaint expands its assortment of built-in tools and brushes via plug-ins. You access plug-in tools — including an airbrush, a fine-line brush, a pixel-sharpening tool, and a shape painter that lays down random splatters — from scrollable icons on the tool palette. MediaPaint’s tools are well suited to the demands of producing and editing special effects.

MediaPaint also includes a selection of plug-in process filters that produce global transformations, such as blurring, diffusing, and fade-in/fade-out effects. Many of the program’s process filters are tweenable, meaning their effects can be applied across a sequence of frames. You set filter values for the beginning and ending frames and MediaPaint calculates the values for the intervening frames. For example, MediaPaint’s Fade Out filter allows you to fade a movie gradually over several frames simply by selecting values for a beginning and an ending frame. MediaPaint also accommodates most of your favorite Photoshop filters.

Finally, MediaPaint offers four particle tools that create animated effects by painting automatically over a sequence of frames. The PixieDust tool produces particles that fly according to user-defined gravity and friction settings..). The SpinOut tool generates spinning particles that leave trails. The Squiggle tool builds wriggling, wormlike lines. And the BabyBoom tool creates particles that self-propagate at user-regulated rates. All four tools generate particles randomly, so their effects differ each time, even with identical settings.

The Last Word

Despite its hefty RAM requirement, MediaPaint is an excellent, well-conceived program suitable for multimedia developers or video editors. Though MediaPaint may not return the glamour to filmmaking, it helps reduce the tedium of special-effects work.

Martinez, Carlos Domingo. (September 1995). MediaPaint 1.0. Macworld. (pgs. 56-57).

Download Strata MediaPaint for Mac

(2.44 MiB / 2.56 MB)
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Strata MediaPaint v1.0 / compressed w/ Stuffit
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19 / 2021-11-12 / d6619ad6562ff48b0acf4d8464a685d1efd05ba9 / /


68K + PPC (FAT)

System Requirements

From Mac OS 7.0 up to Mac OS 9.2

Compatibility notes

Architecture: 68K + PPC (FAT)

At least 6MB of free RAM (recommended 12MB, depending on your project's size)

Mac OS 7.x - Mac OS 9.2.2


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