The Stream Effects plugin is capable of a lot of stuff, but most of it requires that you know how to create it with the tools given to you. So today I’ll show you how to simulate Tilt Shift blur with Stream Effects!
Tilt Shift is a type of effect that makes really large things like buildings, cities, etc appear as if it was a small model city captured using a macro lens on a camera.
So right from the start, we’ll need something to apply the Blur to. What you use doesn’t matter, I personally used a Source Mirror so I would be able to quickly switch between inputs at will. For me the input used for this example is this image:
and our end goal should look something like this:
Note that this isn’t perfect Tilt Shift Blur as Lens Blur and Bokeh Blur are currently not supported by Stream Effects. Once they are supported you can create an even more realistic looking Tilt Shift with those.
The Blur Setup
The first thing to understand about Tilt Shift is that it looks like a straight blur strength gradient, from none to the strength level we intended it to be. But the Masking option in Blur does not allow for this kind of gradient as it is simply meant to fade from A to B, with A being the original unblurred image and B being the blurred image.
So we will have to use multiple Blur filters to get the result we want – about 3 or 4 Blur filters will get a good enough looking result. And for the sake of the example, well say we want the focus of the Tilt Shift to be on the center of the image.
1st Blur Layer
The first blur layer is rather simple. We can choose any blur that we like, as long as it is an Area blur. So Box, Gaussian and Dual Filtering will work, same as Box Linear and Gaussian Linear. For the purpose of speed, I’ve used Dual Filtering which is in Version 0.6.0 (released soon™).
The size of the blur should be rather small, around 1 to 2. However we now have to apply the masking I’ve talked about before to get a smooth gradient from sharp to blurred, so enable Masking (“Apply a Mask”) and set the Mask Type to “Region”. We don’t care about the left or right edge, so leave those at 0. However we do care about the top and bottom edge, so we set those to 50 – the exact center of the image.
Now comes the interesting part: to create the smooth gradient we need to play with Feather Area and Feather Shift. These two options control the feathering of the edge, which allows a smooth gradient to exist. We want our Feather Area to be around 10, and want to shift the feathering area into the border so we end up with a nice vertical gradient. That means we have to set the Feather Shift to 100, as it is a percentage value by which to push the feathering area either in to (positive) or out of (negative) the edge.
2nd to last Blur Layer
And the other Blur layers are simply repeating the first layer, except which different Blur Size and Edges. For each layer we increase the blur size by a factor of 2, and reduce each edge value by around 10. In my setup I went for the following:
- Layer: Dual Filtering, Area, 1 wide, 0/50/0/50 Edge, 10 Feathering, 100 Shift
- Layer: Dual Filtering, Area, 2 wide, 0/35/0/35 Edge, 10 Feathering, 100 Shift
- Layer: Dual Filtering, Area, 3 wide, 0/22/0/22 Edge, 10 Feathering, 100 Shift
- Layer: Dual Filtering, Area, 4 wide, 0/8/0/8 Edge, 10 Feathering, 100 Shift
And now we should have a good enough approximation of Tilt Shift. What you end up using it for is all up to you, though I hope that this gave you an idea of just what the tools you have available to you can achieve if you use them in the right way.