Introducing the Viewer

Introducing the Viewer

The Viewer is where you see the results of your editing and compositing.

It's also where you'll make many of your compositing decisions, adjusting layers and masks directly instead of using the Controls panel.

The Viewer is linked to your currently active timeline. The Viewer's contents and available tools will vary depending on your chosen timeline.


Playback controls

Along the bottom of the Viewer are the playback controls.

Loop playback loop@2x

When activated, playback will loop once the playhead reaches the end of the timeline or the end of the work area.

The work area can be defined using the Set In and Out point buttons with the playhead at the desired frames. This can be particularly useful for looping playback around a specific cut or visual effects sequence.

Set In and Out points frame-in@2xframe-out@2x

The in and out points set the work area. This region of the timeline is used when looping playback and when exporting your project. This makes it easy to export specific sections of a project, rather than entire timelines.

Playhead control frame-first@2xframe-previous@2x frame-next@2xplay@2x

The timeline playhead determines which frame is displayed in the viewer. The playhead can be controlled from the Viewer.

Move playhead to start instantly jumps the playhead to the beginning of the timeline. You can also press the Home key.
Previous and Next frame buttons move the playhead by a single frame.
The Play button plays the timeline forwards. Realtime playback may not be possible, depending on the complexity of the timeline. Realtime playback can be achieved using the RAM preview or proxy features.

Playback can also be controlled using the standard keyboard shortcuts J, K and L.

J plays backwards. Pressing J repeatedly will double the playback speed.
K stops playback.
L plays forwards. Pressing L repeatedly will double the playback speed.

RAM preview play-ram@2x

System memory can be used to preview a section of your timeline in realtime, even if there are complex effects.

Clicking the preview button will begin previewing from the playhead's position and will carry on until the RAM allocation is filled or you click elsewhere in the interface to stop the previewing.

You can then playback the previewed frames or scrub the playhead in realtime.

The memory allocated for RAM previewing can be adjusted in Options.

Time Displays

To either side of the Viewer are time displays.

On the left the current time is shown, based on the position of your playhead.

On the right the total duration of your current timeline is shown.

You can set each separately to display as a timecode (in the format Hours:Minutes:Seconds:Frames) or as a framecount by right clicking and selecting from the menu.

Viewer playhead & duration bar

The duration bar represents the total duration of your currently selected timeline.

The lighter gray area shows your work area, which you can change using the In and Out controls.

By dragging the vertical white bar you can move the playhead around your timeline. This is particularly useful if your timeline is currently zoomed in to a specific area, as you can watch another part of the timeline without having to move or scale your track or layer view.

Viewer tools

At the top-left of the Viewer are several tools.

Select pointer@2x

The Select tool is used for interacting with layers and effects on the Viewer. With the Select tool active you can select and transform layers and move position points.

Hand hand@2x

This pans the view around the Viewer. This is useful if your content does not fit into the Viewer panel, such as when you are zoomed in or are working in HD on lower resolution monitors.

When the Hand tool is active you will not be able to interact with layers or effects.

Text font@2x

Creates a new text layer. Clicking once will display the text properties window where you can specify the size of the layer. You can also click and drag to draw a text box directly in the Viewer.

Text can only be created in a composite shot timeline.

See Text layers for more information.

Mask shapes mask-circle@2x mask-square@2xpen@2x

Masks are used to specify areas of a layer to remove or retain. Layers can include multiple masks.

There are three mask tools: ellipse, rectangle and freehand. These are used to draw masks for your layers.

See Masks for details.

Orbit camera-orbit@2x

When you're working in 3D the orbit tool can be used to orbit the camera or view around wherever you click or a specific selected layer. You can switch between the two orbit modes by holding down on the Orbit button to display the menu.

For more information see Working in 3D.

Viewer display options

The Viewer can be customized to display specific information.

The Viewer can be scaled using the Scale menu to the bottom-right. When the content of the Viewer is too large to fit into the interface you can pan around the view by right clicking and dragging on the view or using the Hand tool.

At the bottom-left of the Viewer are several icons for turning 3D rendering features on and off. See Working in 3D for more details.

There are several menus along the top of the Viewer.

For information on the View and alignment menus see Working in 3D.


The channels menu switches the Viewer between different color and alpha channels.

RGB: The full rendered output. This is what is exported.
RGB Straight: All RGB color channels without alpha transparency. Note that fully transparent areas may be displayed with unexpected coloring.
Alpha: Only the alpha (transparency) channel. White areas represent fully opaque and black areas represent fully transparent. Very useful for checking mattes during compositing.
Red/Green/Blue: Shows only the selected color channel.


Antialiased: Renders at full resolution with anti-aliasing for smooth edges. The antialiasing method can be adjusted on the project screen.
Full/Half/Quarter: Renders at specific resolutions. Lower resolutions increase performance. Note that this only affects the rendering in the Viewer, and final exports will always be at maximum quality.

These quality settings also affect 3D model textures, which are automatically downsampled by the specific amount. For example, 4K textures will be downscaled to 2K when the Viewer is set to Half quality. This can be used in combination with the Options (see below) to manage performance even when working on complex shots.


The Options menu turns various rendering features on and off. Note that these options do not affect the final render; they only have an impact in the Viewer. These settings can also be changed using the Render Options button at the bottom-left of the Viewer. See Working in 3D for details.

Lights: Turns rendering of lights on and off.
Shadows: Turns rendering of shadows and ambient occlusion on and off.
Reflections: Turns dynamic reflections on and off.
Motion blur: Turns motion blur on and off.
Depth of field: Turns depth of field on and off.
Floor plane: Turns the 3D reference grid on and off.
Motion path: Animated layers display a line representing the movement over time. This can be turned on and off.
Background color: The Viewer usually renders a black background. This can be changed to a different color, which can be useful during compositing to ensure you do not have any 'holes' in your scenery.
Checkerboard background: in 2D views this is on by default. A checkerboard pattern is displayed in transparent areas of the frame. This pattern is not visible when you Export, but can be used in the Viewer to identify transparent areas of the frame which would otherwise be hard to spot.
Export: saves a high quality PNG of the current frame.