To launch the Lab simply click on the "Start Lab" link. You should be signed in in order to be able to save your work. If you would like to run it in a separate window you should make sure that the "fullscreen" option is checked before you click on the link.
When the lab starts you should see a toolbar, a menu, an output node and the corresponding View Area. For detailed information on these objects see the Toolbar, Menu and Output Box chapters of the documentation.
Now we will make a simple effect. The result will be some moving clouds in a blue sky. First drag a perlin noise node from the bitmap shelf of the menu. You can drag your boxes along the scene to position them. If you find the scene too small you can zoom out by the zoom out button in the toolbar or with the ctrl- hotkey.
The View Area is also draggable by its title bar, so you can position it if you find it more appropriate in other place. By doubleclicking on its title bar you can minimize it, or - if it's minimized - open it.
Now link the perlin noise's output to the output box's input connector. You can do it by pressing your mousebutton while the pointer is above the output connector then dragging it to the input connector and releasing the button. You should see a static perlin noise in the View Area now. Notice that the line you just created has a small box on it. This is a converter which allows you to link bitmap and movieclip typed connectors. See Connector Types and Converters for details.
Doubleclick on the perlin noise node in order to open it for editing parameters. Set the "number of octaves" parameter to 5 to get a more detailed image. A perlin noise is created by multiple noise layers, one above the other. These layers are the octaves so now we have a five-layered noise.Click anywhere outside the box to return to normal mode.
To make the sky blue we will use a jpeg file. Open the Movie Clip shelf and drag a loader node to the scene. With this you can add image and swf files to your effect. Open the loader's editor and click the browse button. Here you can select the file you wish to use. In the examples you will find a picture named "sky blue2.jpg". To find it easier filter your list by selecting the "sky" tag from the list on the left. To see both images together, use a merge node. Link the generated perlin noise to the higher movie and the loader with the jpeg to the lower movie. Set the blending mode of the merge box to "screen". This removes the black areas of the perlin noise, so the blue sky will be seen.
In order to make the noise more cloud-like we shall use a brightness/contrast node. This can be found in the filters shelf. Link it just after the perlin noise and edit it. If you check in the uniform checkboxes you can edit the brightness or contrast for each color simultaneuosly. We suggest that you set the contrast to 5 and the brightness to -150, but feel free to play with the parameters.
It looks good, but clouds should be moving. To achive this we will translate the first octave of the perlin noise. We will need a point node (from the Tools shelf). Link it to the "octave 1" connector of the perlin noise. This point defines the translation of the given octave. The point's x coordinate will be calculated with a stepper node (can be found in the Math self). Set the stepper's end parameter to 1000 in order to avoid too many miscontinutiy in the resulting effect. Link the stepper to the x coordinate connector of the point.
Now we should tell the stepper when to generate the next number. The node has got a trigger connector. Every time this connector receives an event, the stepper's output will be updated to the new number. This number is calculated from the current value and the step size parameter using the operator defined in the style parameter. We suggest to use 10 for stepsize and "+" for operator. In the events shelf you can find nodes that are generating triggers. Choose the timer node and set its interval to 200. The node will send out an event in every 200 miliseconds with this setting. Link the timer to the stepper's trigger.
Now your clouds are moving. We suggest that you play with the nodes' parameters to get more understanding of how they work. You can change the value of the numeric parameters not only by typing in a new value. If you drag from the control's box upwards the number will be increasing. Downwards dragging means the decreasing the value. If you want faster change in the value hold down the SHIFT key while dragging. In order to get slower changing hold down the CTRL key.
When you finished editing your scene you should save it. For this click on the Save Scene option or use the ctrl+s hotkey. Now you can see the "Save Scene" panel. Change the status to "my scenes" so it will be your private scene. Select some tags to describe your scene. For this one "tutorial" and "noise" will be appropriate. You can select multiple tags by holding down the shift button while clicking. Then give a name to your scene by typing "my first scene" in the name field. Then click on the save button. Now your scene is saved so you can use it later.