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I think that Viveza is in the running for plug-in of the year!

Software Review: Adobe Photoshop Plug-in Viveza From Nik Software

Viveza 1.0 is the newest product in Nik's growing collection of digital photographic filters and effects for Adobe Photoshop. It is a plug-in that uses U Point Technology to allow you to manage color and light in an image without having to spend a lot of time working with masks or selections. It is technology that Nikon users have had available to them in Capture NX; it was integrated into Nik's Color Efex 3.0, and now is a major part of Viveza 1.0.

System requirements for Viveza 1.0 are Windows 2000 or better, Mac OS 10.4.9, 10.5.2 or better, 256 MB RAM (512 MB Recommended), and Photoshop 7 through CS3, Photoshop Elements 2.0 through 6.0 on Windows, CS2-CS3 and Photoshop Elements 4 or greater on Mac, or any image editing software program that accepts Adobe Photoshop Plug-ins.

Image Courtesy Nik SoftwareSo what is U Point Technology? A patented innovation in photo image processing and editing, it uses color control points to isolate an entire image or an image area for enhancement very quickly. Instead of having to make a selection, mask it off, and then apply filters, levels, curve adjustments, or use color balance tools, you just drop a control point and it considers the relationship between color and light and makes the appropriate adjustments.

If you look at the image below, the main color point is located at the tip of the arrow. The length of the horizontal bar that stretches out from that point sets the radius of the affected area. You can see it in the image on the right – the radius goes from the gray point to about the top of the building (about where the C shows on the vertical bar). That designates the affected region. The white area is the selected objects; most affected, the black objects are the not selected objects; not affected on, and gray objects are partially affected.

Image Courtesy T. Michael TestiThe rest of the lettered dots control what changes will happen within that circle. They are, based on the first letter, brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, red, green, blue, and warmth. What is nice about the way that this works is areas can overlap, and you can counteract effects with multiple control points. In the image above on the right, even though the highlighting goes to the peak of the building, the dot on the right side of the image; the one on the sign, cancels out any affect that the active one may be showing.

For this review, I chose an image that was taken late in the day and in very mixed light. You have lots of washed out areas and lots of shadows. To make my points I did some over correcting to make sure that you could see the differences in a small 72 dpi web shot.

The image below shows the screen when you open the Viveza window. The left side contains the image where you place your color points. In this case I used 9 all together. Some of the color points where used to focus on certain qualities that needed to be enhanced, such as the trees, and others were used to negate the changes, such as the one on the sign that is in the middle of the trees. In this case I had to enhance the greens and the brightness to bring out the trees, but in doing so really distorted the sign, so I had to have one to correct that; I used the one on that sign to make it pop out more as well.

On the right side of the screen you see the list of control points and you can make changes there. This is where I created the masking image above from. At the bottom is called the Loupe, and it is where you can see the difference between the original and the color point version. In this case I used that dot to bring out the red in the bricks that were lost to evening shadows.

Image Courtesy T. Michael Testi – Click for larger viewIn the final image I show a side by side of the changes that I made. I set it up as a Smart Object so anytime I can go back and re-edit it; another feature that I like about this product. Again, let me point out that I over compensated on some of the items to show the amount of control that Viveza 1.0 gives to you in your images. I would tone some of these down if I were going to create a larger image, or do a print from this.

OK, the sky was totally blown; washed out completely and nothing can fix that, not even Viveza. As I said before, I dropped one on the trees to bring them out. The building below the trees was washed out and needed some contrast and lowering of brightness to bring out the detail of the lights. The sign in the trees did not need the same effect as the trees and I wanted to make the yellow stand out more.

I dropped a control on the marriage sign to make it brighter and not be so cool; this is a bit overdone as it looks like a sign with a light inside it. There is a control under the sign to bring out the wood detail there. There is one on the red balcony between the two signs to bring out the color. There is one on the "About Time" sign where I over compensated to make it almost look like it had a light shining directly on it. There is one on the "Sonya" sign that is way dark under the balcony that you could almost miss. It too now looks like there is a light on it. And then finally the one on the lower brick work to bring out the red.

Image Courtesy T. Michael TestiIn my opinion Viveza 1.0 has to be one of the best version 1 products in a long time. I guess a lot has to do with the fact that a lot of this technology has been around in Capture NX. Being a Canon user, I have heard about Capture NX, but have not used it. I knew that this product was coming down the line, was highly anticipating a good product, but was even more surprised at how great it really is. In fact, even though it is only March, I think that it is in the running for plug-in of the year!

If you want a fast easy way to correct up your images with out having to learn and use selections, masking, curves, and the rest of the Photoshop techniques, you should really check out Viveza 1.0. It will be a little pricey for some at $249.95, but in my opinion it will pay for it self over and over again in the amount of time that you will save; especially in touch up work. If you want you can try out a 15-day demo as well. If you do a lot of image color correction, then Viveza 1.0 is very highly recommended.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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