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Although not all the features of programs such as PhotoShop are available in the Paint window, one powerful feature, filters, can be borrowed. If you are a PhotoShop user, you probably already know about filters and what they can do. From a simple blur to a complex rendering, filters can alter an entire graphic or part of one. They are really just special effects for still images.

In PhotoShop, you place filters in a plug-ins folder and access them through the Filter menu. You can apply the transformation, such as a blur effect, to the entire image, or to just an area.

Director can borrow these PhotoShop filters and use them on cast members or in the Paint window. First, you need to tell Director where the filters are. This can be as easy as making an alias or shortcut to your PhotoShop filters folder and placing it in the Director Xtras folder. You can also copy filters or folders of filters into the Xtras folder.

The simplest way to use filters is to apply them to an entire single cast member. Select that cast member in the Cast and choose Xtras, Filter Bitmap. This brings up the Filter Bitmap dialog box, which organizes the filters into categories (see Figure 3.14).

Figure 3.14. The Filter Bitmap dialog box contains different items depending on which filters you have available.

In addition to the filters that come with PhotoShop, several third-party companies make filters that work with both PhotoShop and Director.

If no filters show up in your dialog box, it means that you have no filters in your Xtras folder, or the filters that you have are not compatible with Director. You also might be missing the PhotoShop Filters Xtra, which should have been installed when you initially installed Director.

If you are looking for some good special effects filters, check out Kai's Power Tools from MetaCreations, Inc. It is one of the most powerful and popular filter sets available.

To use a filter, select it and click the Filter button. If the filter has its own dialog box, as most do, you see that dialog box first and can then choose your options. The filter is then applied to the cast member.

A powerful feature of using filters with Director is that you can apply a filter to more than one cast member at a time. Simply select multiple cast members in the Cast window and filter. Each of the members gets the same filter, with the same settings, applied to it.

If you don't get as nice an effect as you expected, check the bit-depth settings of the bitmap. Most filters only work well with 32-bit images. If you have an 8-bit image that you want to filter, convert it first to 32-bit, filter it, and then convert it back to 8-bit.

You can also use filters by selecting an area in the Paint window. In that case, the filter is applied to only that area in that one bitmap.

Director also has an auto filter function. Choose Xtras, Auto Filter to use it. Its purpose is to create a series of bitmaps based on a filter that changes slightly over time. However, very few filters are built to have a filter-over-time function. The dialog box that appears lists only the filters that do. Do not be disappointed if no filters are shown. Hopefully, more filters will be written in the future to take advantage of this feature.

When working with filters, use a lot of caution. Filters are written by third-party companies that rarely test their filters on Director. Some filters do not work, others work in strange ways, and some will crash Director. Save your movie and Casts just before trying to apply a filter. If a filter does not work at first, add more memory to the Director application and try again.

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