Asset Previewing

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Overview

Previews are a visual representation of the assets' content, and in Connecter, you can use different panels to explore this visual metadata. 

Types of previews

In Connecter, there are several types of asset previews:

  • Thumbnails – a reduced-size image of the asset that serves as an icon of the asset.
  • Native previews – they’re contained in the asset.
  • Custom previews – an image Connecter users assign to an asset. You can manage custom previews.
  • Interactive/animated previews –  interactive previewing of various 3d assets and animated assets in action.
  • Video and GIF previews – a video can be previewed without opening the asset.

Options to preview an asset

You can use several panels and tools to explore the asset previews in Connecter.

Preview Selected Assets.

Assets View Panel

That is the main panel with a visual representation of the assets.

  • Images: they have a thumbnail. They can be divided into two groups:
    • Bitmap images – they’re represented only with their preview (.bmp, .jpg, etc.).
    • Image or vector editing software source files that can have custom previews assigned to them.
  • Interactive/animated previews: Connecter has a built-in powerful OpenGL viewer for interactive previewing of various 3d assets like .c4d, .obj, .3ds, .fbx, .gltf, .usd, .abc, and others. Users can explore them from all angles, adjust the lighting and background settings, and even see animated assets in action.
  • Video formats and GIFs can be previewed by clicking the middle mouse button on the asset. It works on popular video file formats like .mp4, .avi, .mov, .wmv, etc. You can even adjust the volume and use its timeline to navigate. The same can be used to preview audio tracks without opening them.

NOTE: For assets of every asset type that have added custom previews, hover over the asset, hold the Shift button, and use the mouse scroll to browse all custom previews without opening any of them or the asset itself.

Previews Panels – Vertical and Horizontal

Previews Panel can be shown in Vertical or Horizontal mode. Also, it can be displayed simultaneously with the PBR Material Mixer or Products Panel right next to it.

In the Previews Panel, you can see different tabs that appear:

  • Asset Preview.
  • Interactive Preview.
  • Multiselection Preview.
  • Material Library Previews.
  • External Files.
  • Substance Material Parameters.

They’re not always shown all together. It’s usually a combination of them, depending on the asset type and the additional metadata attached to it.

You can change the panel's width (if in Vertical mode) and height (if in Horizontal mode) to better visualize the needed information. Also, you can shrink and expand the size of its sections.

Previews Panel UI interactions.

PBR Material Mixer

The PBR Material Mixer is a powerful tool that can visualize sets of textures as realistic PBR shaders with its OpenGL renderer.

Lightbox

That’s where users can see the full-size image, animation, or video of the assets shown in the Assets View. The tool’s interface offers many handy options for a better previewing experience. Below is a list of asset types and how you can explore them in the Lightbox:

Images: You can open an image asset by double-clicking on it or choosing “Preview Asset” (or “Preview Selection'' for multiselections) from the context menu. After opening the Lightbox, you can see the full-size image, zoom it in and out, or navigate to the others: Use left/right arrows to go to the previous/next asset or Shift + left/right arrows to go to the previous/next same type asset. If you have a selection of assets, this works only on the selection.

If one asset is selected, you can right-click on it and choose Tile Image, or you can access the tool by hovering your mouse at the bottom of the Lightbox, and a bar with the Tile Image icon will appear. If you have a selection of up to four image assets – you can Compare Images.

3d Assets: 3d assets can be opened by double clicking on it or choosing "Preview Asset" (or "Preview Selection" for multiselections) from the context menu. After opening the Lightbox, if the asset has only a native preview, you can see it, and by hovering with the mouse to the bottom of the Lightbox, a bar with the “Add Custom Preview" icon will appear. Suppose the asset has already been assigned custom previews. In that case, you can browse them in the tool: use left/right arrows for previous/next asset, Ctrl + left/right arrows for previous/next preview for assets with multiple previews, and Shift +  left/right arrows for previous/next same type asset. 

All assigned custom previews are arranged on the same bar. The first preview on the left is the one that is shown in the Assets View Panel. The last one on the row is the native preview of the asset. By drag and drop interaction, you can rearrange the assets, and the one you move to be first on the left will be the preview of the asset shown in the Assets View.  All custom previews can be removed from the asset – hover over the top right corner of the image, and an “X” icon will appear. Also, when right-click on a custom preview, a context menu with the following options appears:

  • Remove Preview.
  • Delete Preview.
  • Open in Explorer.
  • Properties.

These options aren’t available for native previews.

Interactive/animated previews: The “Interactive Preview” can be accessed from the assets’ context menu or by clicking on the keyboard’s Spacebar. When it’s opened, you can zoom in and out, rotate it, move it, change the lighting with your mouse, and press buttons to reset the preview, snap a file preview, and use a settings button that offers you many options to choose from.

If you just double-click on an asset that supports interactive preview or choose "Preview Asset" from the context menu, the full-size image of the preview will open.  If you hover to the bottom of the Lightbox, the bar will appear with an Interactive Preview icon on it. Or you can use the keyboard’s Spacebar to open it.

For animated previews, you also have play/pause, stop, and loop animation buttons and a dropdown of animation speed with four options to choose from.

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Interactive Animated Preview.

Videos: To preview a video, select it and choose “Play Video” from the asset context menu or press the Spacebar. When previewing a video, you can play/pause it, go back to the beginning, loop the video, adjust the volume, enter a full-screen mode, and even zoom in and out while playing. 

If you just double-click on the asset, the preview will open in full size. Then, you can choose “Play Video” from the context menu, use the Spacebar, or hover to the bottom and click on the Play Video icon on the bar that appears to play the video.

NOTE: If you try to open an asset in the Lightbox and see a “Preview not available” label below a specific icon for the selected asset type, it means the asset doesn't have a custom preview assigned.

Products Panel

Also, there’s a Products Panel where you can see the complimentary designconnected.com products that come with the installation. If you log in, that’s the place where you can see your downloaded assets.

Web Catalogs

This feature visually represents all cataloged assets (excluding interactive ones – they’ll appear static) in a convenient web environment. In a Web Catalog, all assets are visually represented by thumbnails, and you can browse the assigned custom previews in an asset gallery view on the left on a larger scale.

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Web Catalog’s Gallery.

Details Panel

Apart from the visual previews, you're also able to preview the asset's metadata. This includes different file properties, image properties, descriptions, custom properties, etc., some depending on the file type. The information there is about one asset at a time – if you have a multiselection, the metadata shown in this panel is for the last selected asset.

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