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Layer Layouts

Layer Layouts gives you the power to create, ingest, import and process content in a completely flexible way. With various nodes, you can build complex behavior and even conditional action flows.
We can access Layer Layout window by double-clicking on any Layer in the timeline.
On the right-hand side of the window, you can see the Layer Properties.
If we right-click somewhere in the empty area of a Layer Layout, a popup window appears, where we can browse a library of nodes. You can quickly find the desired node by typing its name in the Search window.
You can drag from a node's output and drop it somewhere on a Layer Layout to get new node recommendations

Nodes

The main building block in any Layout is a node. With various nodes, you can build complex behavior and even conditional action flows.
Good to know: every node has inputs on the left side and outputs on the right side.
There are 2 types of nodes: action nodes and basic nodes.

Action nodes

They have at least one lifeline (lime color) square pin input or output.
There are 3 special action nodes in every layer. They are inserted by default and cannot be deleted.
  • Tick node executes every frame as long as the transport (the green vertical line in the Sequencer indicating where in the sequence you are) is on the layer.
  • On Begin executes only once when this layer first become active. Usually this happens when the playhead touches the left side of the layer.
  • On End is similar to On begin, except that it executes at the end of the layer.

Basic nodes

They have no square lime Lifeline pin inputs or outputs.

Node controls

Preview

Some nodes also contain a Preview option. Toggle it on or off with a Preview icon.

Bypass

Bypass icon causes the node to not execute at all.
Good to know: Bypass is useful especially with various texture processing nodes.

Node connections

There are several types of connections between nodes, but there is one that is special. It is called Lifeline.
It is the one with a lime color and it determines the action flow of the layout. Contrary to most other connection types, an input pin can have many connections whereas an output pin can have only one.
Layer layouts consist of nodes connected into chains. There are 2 types of chains:
  • lifeline chain and a
  • sub-chain.

Lifeline chain

It consists of nodes connected with a lifeline connection. It is shown with a lime green color and has square pins.
A lifeline chain with nodes labeled as per the order of execution.
Good to know: One lifeline output can be connected to only one lifeline input, but one lifeline input can be connected to several lifeline outputs.

Sub-chains

It consists of all the nodes that are connected with other connection types, but if they are to be executed, their sub-chain needs to be connected to the lifeline chain.
All non-lifeline connections above are a sub-chain of the one lifeline connection.
Connections between nodes have different colors. Each color represents what is sent along that connection. For example, dark red represents a float which stands for a real number whereas light blue represents a string (text).
Good to know: You can only connect pins with the same color and only an output to an input.

Active vs Inactive connections

A connection will be active (enabled) only when a Transport on the timeline is placed on top of a layer and only when it is connected to a lifeline generator in some way.
Example of inactive node (not blinking)
When we move a Transport away from the layer, it gets disabled again and connections stop blinking.

Action flow

Action flow determines which nodes will be executed. You determine the action flow with Lifeline connections and every Lifeline starts with a Lifeline generator node.

Default Lifeline Generator Nodes

Default layer nodes: Tick, On Begin or On End.

Other Lifeline Generator Nodes

Several nodes have New message lifeline output
There are a lot of nodes which have New message lifeline output. These nodes are primarily designed to receive messages from the network and work in conjunction with receiving Device nodes.
Good to know: A good indicator that a layer is active, are blinking connection lines.

Order of execution

Let's say that you are using Tick node as your lifeline generator as
You’ll see that it has only one Lifeline output which is executed every frame. Then, the order is as follows:
  1. 1.
    LightAct will execute the node connected to the Tick node
  2. 2.
    In order to execute it, it will execute all the sub-chains connected to this node.
  3. 3.
    When it's done with step 2, it will look for the next node connected with the lifeline and so on
  4. 4.
    The layer execution ends when all connected nodes are executed. Non-connected nodes are not executed.
You can also split Lifeline node by using conditional nodes or delay its execution and so on. There are many ways you can play with how a particular layout is executed. For example, the layout below renders a red 400 x 400 px square on a canvas at different positions depending on the value of the Input boolean in the If node.