Photoshop as your Text Node

This is a follow up to the NY User Group meeting. I presented a workflow where I’m using Photoshop for text. I’m trying to make the round-trip as quick as possible… almost as if it was a timeline effect to replace the Text Node.

Some things to know first:

  • This is using Flame on Mac. You could set this up with Linux, using Gimp or other image editor but it will need some modifications to the python script.
  • The python script is looking at whatever is selected in flame. If the source’s extension is PSD, open that file in Photoshop.
  • The script is technically opening the file with whatever the OS default is for that filetype. If for some reason your default app isn’t Photoshop, you will have to change that default or modify the script.

Download this python script: (4.7 KB)
Put this in /opt/Autodesk/shared/python
Now if you right click on a PSD source, the context menu should show: Open > Open in Photoshop.

Two Keyboard Shortcuts I suggest adding to your profile:

  • This ‘Open in Photoshop’ Hook - I use command+shift+O
  • The Entry for “Select Latest Version” - I use command+shift+L

Here are the basics of the workflow:

  • Import your Photoshop file as ‘Multichannel Clip’
  • Insert the clip to a timeline
  • Select that segment and use the Keyboard Shortcut to Open in Photoshop.
  • In Photoshop, you can overwrite the file or use version numbers in conjunction with Pattern Browsing. I’ll talk more about Pattern Browsing in a second.
  • After saving in Photoshop, back in flame with the element selected, hit that hotkey for “Select Latest Version” and you should see the image update.
  • If you are using text that is going over something else… make sure to turn on COMP in the timeline effects.

The Photoshop file is ‘flat’ by default. In Flame you can choose a specific layer to show. This is done by clicking on the icon in the timeline effect ribbon.

Red Arrow: Click this icon
Yellow Underline: Choose the front/matte from layers within the PSD file

This is different from the version options in “Pre-Processing”

If you want to use Pattern Browsing / Publish workflow to version your sources you can do that. Here are some things to know:

There is a preference in the Timeline section that’s labeled “Multi-Channel”. There are no tooltips or documentation for this (yet) but here is what this setting does:

---- NO SHARING ----

  • Segments created from the same source are connected at the source level.
  • Changing the version will change all source segments.
  • Changing the PSD layer breaks the source connection. It is now a unique “source.”


  • Segments created from the same source are connected at the source level.
  • Changing the version will change all source segments.
  • Changing the PSD layer will change all source-connected segments.
  • To separate a segment from this connection use “Duplicate Source.”


  • Segments created from the same source are connected at the source level.
  • Changing the version will change all source segments.
  • With a segment connection (chain-link) - Changing the PSD layer will change all connected segments.
  • Changing the layer without a chain-link breaks the source connection.

So you need to be aware of what the versions are doing and what the PSD Layers are doing. I prefer the “Follow Connected Segments” setting so I know exactly what segments will change when I modify a layer or version.

Some more notes:

  • I will keep a solid white frame and a solid black frame in the Photoshop file. This allows you to quickly change the ‘front’ of a text in cases where you typed the text in white but then in flame you are comping it over white so you need black text, or vice-versa, useful for legal type supers.
  • Folders in Photoshop are ok but they can get unwieldy in flame. You can only show one layer at a time so if you need all the layers from a folder in PSD you will have to stack them up in your flame timeline. I’ll have another answer to this at the end of the post as well.
  • Naming your layers in Photoshop can be helpful. By default, Photoshop names the layer whatever the content of the text is. When you bring that in to flame it gets truncated and you might have lots of layers with the same name.
  • If you are going to use one Photoshop file for multiple art cards, legals, etc. and you want to keep the source connection for version updating… import the file one time and keep it somewhere you can get back to for inserting into multiple edits. If you import the PSD file multiple times, each one of those is considered a different source in flame.

Dealing with Folders in Photoshop:
Clients often send a photoshop file with more than one art card. These art cards might be multiple layers in various folders. To make it cleaner in flame, I will merge the folder (rasterize to one layer). You can do this by right clicking on each folder and “Merge Group”

I wrote a Photoshop script that helps automate this. (428 Bytes)

  • Unzip and put this file in:
    /Applications/Adobe Photoshop /Presets/Scripts/
  • In Photoshop, select one folder
  • Choose File > Scripts > MergeFolders
  • All folders will be flattened down to a single layer per folder.

This isn’t perfect but you get the benefit of Photoshop Text manipulation, anti-aliasing, rasterization, etc. With Connected Conform and Pattern Browsing you can revise your legals and art cards one time and they will update throughout your Timelines.

Let me know if you have questions!