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@Josh Weiss

COW Forums : Autodesk Smoke

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Walter Soyka@Josh Weiss
by on Apr 19, 2012 at 4:55:31 am

[Josh Weiss] "smoke for mac 2011 and 2012 (and probably before) did have a source/record edit interface. It more or less looked just like what i saw in the demo."

I'll agree with Walter B. here -- the new editorial interface is totally different.

I think it will flatten the initial learning curve substantially.

Think about the first time you opened Smoke on Mac, pre-2013. It was pretty hard to intuit how to even get a clip into the system, let alone onto a timeline. That part of the experience will be completely changed in 2013.

The media browser is a lot more intuitive than the Edit Library / Edit Desk was, and the timeline will feel much more familiar for anyone with NLE experience from FCP, Pr, or MC. You won't need to watch twenty minutes of training on the gateway and the edit desk just to get a clip from an attached hard drive into a sequence. You already know how from using other applications.

The timeline has been overhauled. There are icons. There are right-click context menus. The whole interface is now legitimately mouse-able -- no tablet required. (I'll note here that you can still use a tablet if you prefer, and you can still use Smoke or FCP hotkeys, too.)

The addition of ConnectFX, accessible from clips on the timeline, is another really significant change from previous versions. In 2012, you had to spend a lot of time in the edit desk, and you had to very carefully pre-plan your effects. In 2013, ConnectFX lets you build comps much more simply and fluidly right from the timeline.

The modules (like the keyer, the tracker, Paint, Color Warper, and Action) are all still there. What's new in 2013 is the way you can move through them. Since the workflow is now much more grounded in the timeline instead of the edit desk, it feels a lot more natural or approachable to someone with a desktop NLE background.

At the beginning of my post, I said that I think Smoke 2013 flattens the initial learning curve substantially. I think an editor will be able to jump in and cut pretty quickly, because Autodesk has made Smoke's media and timeline feel more like people expect it to. I think that people will be able to familiarize themselves with the application and its internal workflow much more quickly than with previous releases.

However, I also think that really learning all the modules and tools and truly understanding their subtleties will still take an awful lot of time and practice -- especially for picture editors with no prior effects experience. Even with effects experience, an aspiring Smoke artist will still have to learn how Autodesk thinks about effects (which is certainly different than how, say, Adobe does), as well as which tools are most appropriate for certain kinds of challenges, which options within each tool are best suited for the situation at hand, and how to exploit every option. There's a lot of depth in the product.

I am very much looking forward to the trial in June. I can't wait to give the new version a spin.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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