Sunday Dec 21, 2008 at 22:36

An Aperture Automator workflow

I’ve been using Apple Aperture for a couple of years now and in general have been very happy with it. However, of late, I’ve been toying increasingly with both Photoshop (first CS2 which I’ve had a while, and latterly CS4) and Lightroom 2.0. I’m still much enamoured of Aperture’s unobstructive workflow (do what you want, when you want). Additionally, the export plug-in workflow is very nicely done.

So for now, Aperture it is. (The other barrier to switching is the 10,000+ carefully catalogued, keyworded images…)

For this site, I use images at three different sizes: large (up to 768×768), standard (up to 500×500) and thumbnails (160px max). The large sizes are used for the lightbox that pops up when you click on an image. Standard is what appears in the blog section, plus the individual image posts where I add additional commentary about the show. Finally, the thumbnails appear in the gallery listings.

The question is this: how to make a simple workflow to get all three images exported and uploaded to my site?

I use three tools. First Apple Aperture to export the watermarked versions. Secondly, the wonderful Transmit for my FTP uploads. And finally – and crucially – Apple Automator to put the whole workflow together.

Automator Workflow
Click on image for full size version.

Automator is included with Mac OS X. It provides a relatively simple drag-and-drop workflow building interface that can be put to many different uses. Additionally, many applications – including Aperture and Transmit – expose Automator actions that you can include in your own workflows.

Aperture exposes 13 different actions you can use with Automator, including Get Selected Images and Export Images. Each action typically allows one or more parameters to be set, for example, which export preset to use when exporting. Transmit allows you to automate uploads (including connection details).

Put all that together, and my automated export + upload workflow looks like this:

1) In Aperture, select the images you want to upload – this can be single or multiple. Make sure the version names are set how you want them
2) Run the Automator action (you can save as an ‘application’ to avoid opening the Automator program everytime).
3) The automation goes like this: get the selected images in Aperture
4) Export a 768×768 version. The output is saved into the specified folder.
5) Rename the file (I append ‘_l’ to denote the large version)
6) Upload via FTP to my web-site
7) Export a 500×500 version
8) Rename and upload
9) Copy and scale down the image to create the thumbnail
10) Rename and upload

That’s it. Three image versions created, named and uploaded to the web-site in just one click.

A word of warning: although I’m still using it for the thumbnails, I don’t recommend using Automator’s Scale Images action for anything that needs to be viewed critically. I had been using to resize my 768×768 images down to 500px, but the results are horribly soft. That’s why I do multiple exports from Aperture now.

You can download my workflow here: aperture_export_upload.workflow.zip

This was created with the following software versions:

  • Mac OS X 10.5.6
  • Apple Aperture 2.1.2
  • Transmit 3.6.7

If you have other versions, this may not work for you. You’ll need to open the workflow in Automator (after unzipping it) and tweak a few things before it will run:

1) Select a Destination and Export Preset for the Apeture Export Versions steps – it’s unlikely you’ll have folders and presets that match the names in my workflow
2) Tweak the renaming steps to do what you need for your file naming scheme
3) Adjust the settings in the Transmit Upload Files steps to select a connection that you have already saved as a favourite (or specify the full connection details – but favourites are much easier to handle…)

Best to step through the workflow in Automator itself to make sure it’s doing what you want. Also, be warned that this doesn’t deal elegantly with duplicate files – if you’ve already run the workflow against an image, everything falls apart. This is probably addressable, but I didn’t need to worry too much about this happening.

Posted in

Stephen · Sunday, December 21, 2008, 22:36 · Permalink

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