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Which NLE to go for?

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jimmybee500
Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 20, 2006 at 4:17:06 pm

OK, I know this is a Smoke forum, but I'm going to post this on a few cow forums to gauge a balanced opinion...

Our facility is looking to move 100% to HD in the near future and we're currently looking at 2 (maybe 3) solutions for our main NLE/compositing suite:

Smoke HD
Avid DS Nitris
Quantel eQ (though I believe substantially more


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angus
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 20, 2006 at 5:32:56 pm

Hi Jimmy,

For me the Smoke toolset kills DS outright. We went with it a year ago (having evaluated the usual suspects) and are very confortable with our choice. Our clients just love it. Grading, Keying, and 3D compositing are three areas in which it's well clear. DS has a proper nodal compositing environment though, which is really nice.

Smokes use of proxies in the DVE is brillant when you're doing heavily layered HD work. You probably want to add Burn if you do heavy client sessions.

From a business perspective Discreets emphasis on software (as opposed to the more hardware dependant nature of Avid product) makes more sense... although none of these systems is cheap to own (not that you need to be told that, having an EB :-).

I don't have recent first hand experience of EQ, but I understand it has greatly improved. Some owners have had bitterly painful experience with the earlier EQs.

The best bet is to sit down in front of each machine with a quality demo artist, and have some thoughly researched questions to hand. Also try and guage what owner satisfaction is like.

I came to Smoke as a longtime Symphony/Avid/linear editor. As long as the editor in question has a good grasp of theory he'll master the software very quickly. I spent a little time with C* but I dont think it helped much, the two are very different, C* just gives a flavour of the Autodesk way of doing things.

HTH

Angus


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moodyglasgow
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 20, 2006 at 8:05:37 pm

Surprise, Surprise! I vote Smoke HD! :)

I was an Avid editor for almost 10 years before we got our Smoke. With the help of training classes at Discreet, I was able to transfer over to the Smoke pretty quickly.

If you are planning on running Combustion at a graphics station, many of the setups and track data can be transfered directly into the Smoke. Also, if you have a FCP system, there is a product called Xstoner, that allows you to take a FCP sequence, including the media, into the Smoke. I haven't used either of these, so I can't comment on how well they work...



moody glasgow
smoke artist / editor


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jimmybee500
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 20, 2006 at 11:54:39 pm

Thanks for your quick replies guys!

I figured Smoke would get the vote here ;-) but it's nice to hear any comparisons people have on a personal basis and suggestions. Keep em coming!

I guess at the moment our editor mainly 'edits' if you like (cuts, sorts audio, grades, puts on gfx, the odd bit of keying) as oppossed to compositing and vfx. I mean the Editbox is a great editor but it's pretty old and it's compositing tools are practically none (6 layers at once and you're done!) So Smoke's 3D compositing and 3D text will be an awesome addition....I'm a little worried it might take some work off us gfx guys (!) but its all good in the long run and it would free us up to do more interesting stuff aswell I guess.

Gfx wise I am mainly running AE for mograph and the occasional roto/keying job, but have had Combustion 3 sitting around for a while and never really got stuck into it. The interface/workflow was a bit of a headscratcher after the simplicity of AE..but I'm guessing if Smoke is on the cards it'll do me good to at least get to grips with the basics? And the tracker/roto in AE still ain't great!
Is there any kind of integration with AE and Smoke to speak of? I'm guessing not.

Can anyone tell me more about Burn?

Cheers all.
Jim.

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angus
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 21, 2006 at 11:06:41 am

Jim,

our transition was slightly different in that we went from Symphony to Smoke but we find ourselves these days doing a fair bit less in AE because Smoke is a great tool for multi layer composites. Another oft overlooked, aspect is the quality of the finished work, small things like high quality anti-aliasing make a terrific difference to your final product. Discreets image proccessing is the finest out there, Smoke enhanced the quality of the product we deliver very significantly.

Theres no integration between AE and Smoke other than rendering seq's from one to the other. The ability to get an AE camera into Smoke would be great, but I havn't figured a way of doing it yet (I wonder if XSi or some other 3d app' would double as a converter?). You're right though, neither AE or C* have great roto tools. Actually we still use Commotion which, IMHO at least, has yet to be bettered as a track, paint, roto app. It's now defunct of course but you might still be able to buy a copy of v4.1 on Ebay.

Burn is a remote processing app' which you run on a server or workstation to take care of rendering, since v7 you're able to send elements to Burn direct from the timeline in Smoke, which is a really nice feature. One feature which I would like to see added is a Burn option in the various modules, especially in the DVE, I'm nearly certain this will happen in the future.

HTH

Angus


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jimmybee500
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 21, 2006 at 11:17:18 am

Hi Angus, thanks...yeah I thought that might be the case - I fear I may be putting myself out of a job suggesting we get a Smoke! What's the text animation/mograph like within the Smoke? That's what I do the majority of in AE to be honest.

Just been looking at the imagineer products for roto/tracking, etc. Stuff like Monet looks pretty good. How does that hold up to Smoke's tools? I reckon I'm gonna have to get on the Smoke and get it learnt aswell to give my role a bit more clout if AE will not be used much! Eeeek!

Defo looking like Discreet (Oops - still prefer the sound of that though) I mean Autodesk, is the way to go. No one else except you guys has answered my posts. Maybe it is a forgone conclusion and they know it!? But then it is early days....

Sorry to keep asking questions, but have you any idea how well a Smoke would integrate with an Xserve based RAID/server, with other macs & PCs linked up too, to share footage (and proj files in the case of C*) ?

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angus
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 21, 2006 at 1:49:59 pm

no worries Jimmy,

AE is, to my mind at least, still the best mograph tool out there, and I don't see that changing any time soon. It doesn't really make financial sense to spend time designing from scratch on a Smoke. We design our stuff in AE and then render various components for final compositing in Smoke. Sometimes we just comp the whole thing in AE, it just depends on the nature of the job, and if there's anything to be gained by doing the final comp in Smoke.

Most final comps in our Smoke end up containing PS elements and AE annimations. Thing is that working in 3d environment in Smoke's DVE is streets better than AE, the camera is superb and the extended bucubic surfaces are another world in terms of the visual integrity of the deformations, but there are no particles and annimation isn't anywhere near as fast and easy as it is in AE. The point is that Smoke will blur the lines a little more, but the flexibility should serve you really well.

Imagineers stuff looks great but I have no first hand experience of it. I think monet was primarily designed for product replacement but seems to be a fair bit more than that. If 3d tracking is your priority you could also check out Pixel Farm's PF track which seems to be very highly regarded.

our smoke is standalone other than being on the LAN, maybe others on here have experience with NAS/SAN solutions

HTH

Angus


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jimmybee500
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 21, 2006 at 3:13:08 pm

Cheers Angus. That is some good news on the AE front then ;-)

What's the text/gfx tools like in Smoke then? You mentioned PS is all..
I hear C* is a bit of a nightmare with anything more than a little bit of text, is Smoke similar in that respect?

I must admit - after watching a smoke tutorial using the extended bicubics, that feature looks pretty awesome. I don't suppose there is anything on the market that matches Smokes 3D environment, roto, keying & compositing tools (plus bicubics) other than Flame or Inferno? Or would something like Shake or Digital Fusion keep up on a fast system?

Questions, questions, quuestions!

PF Track looks tres bien, also Boujou 4 is suppossed to be one of the best around too. Monet's planar tracking does looks intriguing though.

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moodyglasgow
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 21, 2006 at 5:32:19 pm

I have to agree... AE is hands down the best and easiest tool for mograph work, and the Smoke is hands down the best (fastest and highest quality) all around finishing system. Smoke is fine for doing text design, its just not as easy to use as AE for the same thing.
I've heard really good things about Monet, and its abitlity to "2.5D" track, and export the data to the Smoke. Although it's a bit expensive... Monet is close to $20k


moody glasgow
smoke artist / editor


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BKM
Re: Which NLE to go for?
by
on Dec 21, 2006 at 6:24:45 pm

I'll agree with everyone here on the plus and minus of Smoke. I am at a broadcast NBC station and we have 2 Smokes and edit almost everything from scratch. Promos, Commercials, Programming. Alot of our edit and design happens at once. Smoke is good and we also have AE/PS/Ill as well. SMoke is still a little clunky with Sparks for the bells and whistles that local Spot work demands. But it is always improving.

If you haven't already seen them here are some more Smoke Videos on the Autodesk/Discreet site.

http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/index?siteID=123112&id=7932003&linkID=...

If this link doesn't get you there... go to http://www.discreet.com and look under training and then Smoke.

BKM




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jimmybee500
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 22, 2006 at 11:37:31 am

Yikes - $20k....might go with Boujou for now then until/if we need something better. Anyone know what the mina diff is between PF Track and PF Match is?

On the NLE side though, it's looking very much like a 1 horse battle with the Smoke. Anyone have much experience editing/compositing 2K on the HD version? Just wondering if the extra $$$ (


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Arturo Camacho
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 22, 2006 at 5:23:52 pm

If you have the money, go for the 2K. Hehe of course this is easier said than done.

2K editing/compositing on the HD is possible, of course you'll want to work with proxies when that time comes.

The HD working on a single core system is probably mostly a business decision. They have the same toolset, same funcionality, the only real difference is HDSL support on the 2K along with keycode support and other things, and of course that the 2K machine is a dual core one.

Have a flame working with an Xserve RAID over Gigabit, and it works out great.

Of course having a fiber connection will let you have real time playback of HD straight from the RAID. You'll want to use soft import if this is the workflow you want to use, so that you don't spend a lot of time transferring material back and forth from the stone to the RAID.

Regards


Digital Logic -- Mexico
------------------------------
Certified Flame & Smoke Instructor
Demo, Support & Training
arturocdl@digitlogic.net


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moodyglasgow
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 22, 2006 at 5:29:18 pm

We are in the process of upgrading our Smoke. Our current system is one of the early Linux boxes, with 2 Xenon Procs and 4GB of RAM, and I do some occasional HD work on it. The bueaty of the Smoke is working with proxies for HD and 2K footage... Makes 7 layer comps much more managable even on lesser systems.
As far as Smoke 2007 HD running one a single dual core proc... Check exactly what system they are selling you. The newest systems run on a HP platform with AJA IO card, and the HD version has 2 dual procs in it. If they are selling you something on an IBM box, that is an "older" system.
Here's a link to Discreets offerings for Smoke:
http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/index?siteID=123112&id=7118116


moody glasgow
smoke artist / editor


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Del Holford
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 22, 2006 at 6:38:56 pm

A lot of useful info going on here. Just wanted to say a couple things.
I currently do HD on fire on Onyx2 and we had a demo (they let us play) from our reseller for smoke HD on Linux (IBM workstation) and smoke HD was much faster than my fire. I didn't get into a lot of vertical editing but the rendering of DVE and text and color correction on smoke was noticably faster. It was hard to believe it was all uncompressed.

The second thing is workflow/style of editing. I've never had to use an EB but I went from a Sony 9000 linear system with D-2 and BetaSP machines through a GVG 200 swr, A-53D effects and A-72 CG. While editing is editing, the tools do change. Going to NLE on fire and smoke took a steep learning curve but I was working on a basic level right away. After 6 months we had a trainer come in and go over the system, which sped me up a good deal. After a year on the system I had time to play a little and use sparks (plug-ins) and get to know some of the fun stuff that makes the system rock.

Storage for HD has always been a problem for us. We have 750 Gb and need 2 Tb local storage. At 8 bit 750 Gb is about an hour & a quarter of storage and while I have learned how to be more efficient, I still can't do an hour documentary completely on the timeline. Color correction, text, and digital effects take up hard drive space for the processed clips. Since you do mostly commercial work you could do with less but I think 2 Tb would serve you well.

3D text is pretty easy and using the camera for moves is handy, as are the extended bicubics. Good luck in your choices. We obviously like ours.

Del
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS2
Charlotte Public Television


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jimmybee500
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 23, 2006 at 3:41:59 pm

A-ha.....It seems the UK Autodesk site is behind the times again! 2 x dual core Xeon seems much more like it..strangely though it looks like the 2K system (too much money I fear and probably wouldn't be fully utilised - 2K proxies on the HD vers should be workable for the rare times we might need it) seems to run on the same procs and system as the HD, but still no 4:4:4 i/o support on the HD system. Presumably now that Smoke is 64bit you can fill it up with unlimited RAM as needed? Or would more than 4GB (standard?) not make any difference to performance? Just out of interest - how much benefit is there using Fire these days? Presmably it's more for Realtime 4K work?

Also I'm still a little confused about the local storage thing and the 'stone'...do certain footage/assets have to be kept locally to the smoke, or can everything be stored and accessed via fibre to a huge XSERVE RAID? We were thinking of getting a 14+ TB central store for the 2 edit suites (FCP and poss Smoke) and for the 2 Gfx/Vfx stations (mac and/or PC) Digital Playout was a consideration aswell, but it all adds up!

This is all great info though guys - really helpful, ta!

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Del Holford
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 28, 2006 at 2:44:26 am

[jimmybee500] "how much benefit is there using Fire these days? Presmably it's more for Realtime 4K work?"

For the new user fire is unnecessary. When we purched our systems it was the only system in the world capable of HD editing. Smoke now has all those capabilities, except as you say, for 4K work. We never have gone there nor will we ever.
[jimmybee500] "Also I'm still a little confused about the local storage thing and the 'stone'...do certain footage/assets have to be kept locally to the smoke, or can everything be stored and accessed via fibre to a huge XSERVE RAID?"

You will need local storage. I'm not sure exactly how the Linux systems are now configured but they do need local storage for acceptable throughput. RAID can be used for near-line storage. The last I heard Linux smoke is on the HP8400 workstation in either 1 or 2 dual core configurations.

Del
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS2
Charlotte Public Television


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jimmybee500
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 28, 2006 at 2:18:07 pm

Hi Del,

I wondered what the Fire had to offer over the Smoke..not as much as previously it seems.

With the Smoke - what exactly do you get for the money? ...I know this should be a question for Autodesk, but they'll just tell me what I want to hear won't they? ;-)

I mean - a fully configured HP8400 upto Smoke spec is only about


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moodyglasgow
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 28, 2006 at 5:41:54 pm

Honestly, the Fire doesn't offer anything over the Smoke other then 4K. And from what I hear, the Smoke 2K will run circles around the Fire in processing speed. Also, Fire is the only system that is only available on Unix / SGI platform, while the rest of their products have all been migrated to Linux.

As far as where all the cost is for the system... I only know US dollars so I'll try my best...
I think the software license alone is about $40k, 1TB for storage in Raid 5 is about $15k. Plus you get all the interal and external cards for the system. I don't know about your system, but ours has 2 external boards, plus internal cards like a fibre channel card, DVS card, plus the nvidia quadro (this card alone generally runs at least $3K). Your system should also include a widescreen LCD monitor, tablet, smoke keyboard and a mouse. I think the mouse is free though. :)




moody glasgow
smoke artist / editor


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jimmybee500
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 29, 2006 at 12:24:33 pm

A-ha...so mainly goes on the software then it seems. Fair enough I suppose, it's not like you can get it anywhere else is it! ;-)

As far as $USD vs


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 30, 2006 at 4:24:41 am

We've just bought 2 eQs and 4 Smoke Linux.

Some random observations.

The new Smoke Linux boxes cannot import-export Quicktime. Only frame sequences. So they ship Smoke with a licence of Cleaner (that only works in some countries, not ours) that can convert QT to frame seq and back. Extremely cumbersome if you do a lot of media transfer betwen FCP/Avid/GFx and Smoke.

eQ can import and export Quicktime and pretty fast at that. eQ also 'feels' faster as a system. Maybe its the humans we have at our facility.

Burn made a difference with older Octane systems. The new Smoke Linux are faster systems than even Tezros.

On neither Smoke nor eQ can you 'see' the media storage device outside of the application. So data exchange needs the app to be in the loop. And they're not really 'open' in that sense.

We haven't been able to make XStoner work constructively. Maybe its our workflow maybe the way Autodesk doesn't 'push' it whatever.

For your FCP systems, get a good high end capture card, good broadcast monitor and speakers, look into Motion and Livetype. get one or more XRAIDs, an XServe and network the FCP system with two or more Shake systems, get advanced tools like Color Finesse, Colorista, Conduit, Traffic, apps like AE, Combustion, maybe even load up some 3D stuff.

And with the right people in front of it, you'll find yourself using this FCP+more system more and more in preference to a Smoke or an eQ.

AND two years from now, when your eQ or Smoke are hopelessly outdated and Autodesk/Quantel asks for half your kingdom for an upgrade, your FCP system will still be up to date and you'll have recovered its cost four times over. And you'll have barely made the Smoke/eQ pay for itself when you need to spend all over again.

Neil

FCP Editor, Mumbai, India.
Completely PAL.


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moodyglasgow
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 30, 2006 at 6:48:09 am

"And with the right people in front of it, you'll find yourself using this FCP+more system more and more in preference to a Smoke or an eQ."
Talent is always more important then the machine... But, a FCP system is still not in the same league as a Smoke. There isnt a NLE that has the speed, quality and reliabilty of a Smoke. I personally would rather be running a Smoke when I have my clients sitting behind me.

"AND two years from now, when your eQ or Smoke are hopelessly outdated and Autodesk/Quantel asks for half your kingdom for an upgrade, your FCP system will still be up to date and you'll have recovered its cost four times over. And you'll have barely made the Smoke/eQ pay for itself when you need to spend all over again."
I wouldnt say a 2 year old Smoke is hopelessly outdated. In the past 2 years, there have been some nice updates to the software, but nothing earthshattering. Is Apple giving out FREE upgrades on their software? no.
As far as barely breaking even in 2 years on a Smoke... It all depends on your clients. Some clients understand the value of a system that saves them time, and are willing to pay the extra hourly rate. We had no problem breaking even on our Smoke in less then 6 months. We are also located in the Los Angeles market, and work in commercials, so we can charge a higher rate.
The truth is, if you want to buy a system and have it run for the next 10 years without upgrades, then you are in the wrong business. We dont let any of our edit systems get over 2 years old without upgrading. I would say Smoke holds up much better then most NLE systems, especially something like FCP.


moody glasgow
smoke artist / editor


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jimmybee500
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 30, 2006 at 10:41:26 am

Yikes...so i'm guessing you're pretty peeved that you just spent hundreds of thousands on all your eQs & Smokes Neil?!? Are you by any chance an FCP editor, or do you regularly use other NLEs aswell?

This is a slightly difficult arguement for me, coming for a gfx/compositing side, not as an editor per se..but my understanding is that something like an FCP is great for straight cuts and the odd effect and text animation, but not alot more with serious help from various other apps? This is why we'd use an FCP as our 2nd suite and mainly for offline/online cutting longer projects.

Smoke or similar I understand to be better suited to our main staple of fast turnaround TV commercials where the clients are sat with you right the way through and want to able to do any effects, compositing as fast as possible. Then there would be support and gfx from a networked PC/mac running AE/Combustion, etc. My main concern from a personal viewpoint is how well we can integrate a PC/Mac system with the Smoke to enable fast exchange of data.

I'm very surprised to hear about lack of QT (and AVI?) support on the Smoke. Is this on the 2007 versions aswell? That sounds quite ridiculous..what if you have an AVI or similar with synced audio coming out of AE to go into the Smoke? A targa seq + a WAV sounds a very odd way of doing things.

The plot thickens....

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moodyglasgow
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 30, 2006 at 7:12:31 pm

Quicktime is not available on Linux, period. Why? I don't know, but I think it has something to do with Apple not licensing it for Linux.
As far as exportin targa sequences and wav files for the Smoke... I'm used to creating targa or tiff sequences out of AE so it wasn't a big deal.


Its pretty simple to intergrate systems with the Smoke. You just need to set it up like an FTP and just drop the files onto the Smoke from another system. A nice fast GigE network helps alot here. We have 1 Smoke, 2 FCP HD's and 2 Avids (running on PC), and we dont have any problems getting files into the Smoke. You just need to set it up correctly.

Yes, it would be nice to have a facility where everything could talk seemlessly with one another and share media. You could go all Avid solution and get a Unity storage system... Run a couple of media compossers and a Nitris or something like that.

moody glasgow
smoke artist / editor


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 31, 2006 at 3:51:26 am

One of the biggest problems with working with frame sequences is that with MacOSX and frames over 5000 in a folder, any directory, copy move activity is seriously slow. Working with movies is easier. And then tga, tiff, all 8bit. If one wants to work 10-bit then dpx is the only alternative. And that's even more cumbersome.

We even find it easier to route the FCP SDI out to the smoke SDI in and playout (FCP) and capture (smoke) on the fly. 10bit stays 10bit and 10 min of video takes 10min, not hours as it would with frame sequences.

Neil

FCP Editor, Mumbai, India.
Completely PAL.


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 31, 2006 at 3:47:41 am

Two years back if you got a new Smoke you would have got an Octane or a Tezro. Disks would have been 500 Gb Stone, and video DM-5. And priced at, say $ 150,000

Now you get a Linux box something like dual Xeon 3 GHz, 2-4 Tb Stone. Say $ 80,000?

At the same time on an Avid ssytem you would have got a MC Adrenaline running on a Xeon or G5. $25,000. Or an FCP system running on a dual G5. $ 18,000 w XRAID.

For the Avid there woul be no upgrade now to the new MC Software only. For the FCP system, you can get new storage in case your 5.6 Tb XRAID proved too small. And FCP 5.1 upgrade is $50-200 depending on your original purchase. And from the money you've made on your FCP system you can now get two new ones and spread the work.

You do the math.

Re breaking even and making money, I agree you could break even in 6 months, but the sheer upgrade cost after 2-3 years would bring your facilities long term profitability to its knees. A lot of places in UK/Europe are finding this out now.

Neil

FCP Editor, Mumbai, India.
Completely PAL.


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moodyglasgow
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 31, 2006 at 6:36:00 am

2 years ago we bought a Smoke on Linux with 1 TB stone, since we mainly were doing SD work at the time, and the price was $80,000. A Tezro system would have been $150k, but why go down the Unix path, when it was already pretty clear at that time they were moving to Linux. This system runs great, and is a workhorse, and isnt in need of upgrade at this point.

You make it sound like only a Smoke would need to upgraded after 2 years. No system is immune to an eventual upgrade.

Again, if your clients want to work on a Smoke, they will work on a Smoke wether it be with you or someone else. We added a Smoke to bring more work in house, and it has been very successful for us. I understand other markets don't have the clients that can afford to pay the price of using a Smoke, thats a decision everyone has to make for themselves.

moody glasgow
smoke artist / editor


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NICK B
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Dec 31, 2006 at 1:41:41 pm

I think the debate realy is , is there a future for now buying expensive editing kit ?

NAB 2007 could see FCP 6 Apple MAC 8 core G5's fancy gfx cards from nvidia and ATI all for the price of a client spending a week or 2 in a big iron suite !
In London the trend is lower rates and even 'clients' buying their own cheap kit.


My guess is there will be many post production business failures in 2007 despite killer showreels and all those unemployed editors and artists will go and set up on their own with a FCP 6 type set up and a new cycle will begin.



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jimmybee500
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Jan 2, 2007 at 10:03:40 am

I can see all points in this argument and 2007 will be a telling year for post houses and possibly quite a scary one...but investment - in the people aswell as the kit - is key I think. Whether that be a dozen FCP suites, or a Smoke and single/dual FCP suites. Our kit decision is not cast in iron, but currently our clients are paying to use a rock steady (though a bit outdated) Quantel suite to do their commercials and are paying a lower rate to use an Avid to offline some projects and online some other corporate ones. For them to pay the same or slightly more for upto date kit and HD seems a feesable request.

They are in essence paying for a facility that can provide: CAMERAS/CREWS/LOCATIONS, EDITING, GFX, FINISHING, FULL TRANSFERS/DUBS/TAPE & DVD DUPLICATION & ENCODING/AUTHORING all in one place. They are also paying for skilled and creative artists and technicians to make their product the highest quality possible, consistantly, and as quickly as possible.

A home setup may work for certain types of work and this will no doubt evolve over time, but for now I am confident that we still provide a service that is needed and used, otherwise I wouldn't be here! As for production companies/ad agencies buying their own kit that is run by untrained/partially trained editors - I've had plenty of experience fixing bad commercials made by 'money-savers' sent to us that were rejected from broadcast. Not much money saved in the end there....I know this is not always the case, but amateur setups are creeping further and further into all creative markets at the moment and bringing the quality of the product right down. I'm not saying this is to do with inferior kit, but cheaper kit is certainly allowing this to flourish.

I think all post houses are going to have to step up a gear this year (no cheap rhyming intended..) to compete with and provide a better product than home setups and kit-equipped agencies. We'll have to evolve aswell...maybe companies like Autodesk and Quantel will do this too and reflect it in their prices! ;-)

I also agree that any NLE will need updating frequently, but a turnkey system with 24/7 support will last alot longer than something based on a constantly changing software/hardware situation that thrives on keeping you upgrading every other month. I may be quite wrong, but that's my thoughts anyway. Perhaps Autodesk et al should make upgrading a little easier and cheaper, lets evolve!


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jimmybee500
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Jan 4, 2007 at 11:46:58 am

Yikes, just read that last one back...bit of an essay rant eh!

Updates anyway - still looks like Smoke is in the lead..but to throw an interesting spanner in the works I've just come across the Matrox Axio HD running Premiere Pro2 with many effects and streams of HD running realtime, for about


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Arturo Camacho
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Jan 15, 2007 at 6:19:24 am

I would base my decision for buying a smoke, fcp, avid, you name it depending on your workflow and the type of clients you have. If your clients want the results for right now (or yesterday) and your work consists mainly in online sessions with a good amount of vfx, then your safest bet will be a smoke. People will be willing to pay the price if you can deliver the results.

Regards

Arturo



Digital Logic -- Mexico
------------------------------
Certified Flame & Smoke Instructor
Demo, Support & Training
arturocdl@digitlogic.net


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john
Re: Which NLE to go for?
by
on Jan 21, 2007 at 7:57:21 am

Del

I am looking to find out info on EECO and CVS systems
Can you contact me off list please

john
velocite (at) gmail dot com


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John Mastrogiacomo
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Jan 29, 2007 at 1:10:09 pm

I have a Smoke and I like it for the CC, keying, basic tracking and archiving.
Smoke has the best CC and Chroma keying I have ever seen.

The DVE is nice but you have to do all your Sapphire plug-ins before you go
into the DVE. That is too limited. The layer based approach will drive you nuts
for anything really complicated.

The best solution I have come up with is to network Smoke with a PC with a full blown
seat of eyeon's Digital Fusion 5 (with Ultimatte, Primatte, Sapphire, Speed Six, Krokodove plugins, etc.) A couple of networked nodes of Fusion 5 will be faster than a Linux Smoke for
effects (and a lot cheaper!)

Fusion 5's node based approach makes doing things that on Smoke would drive you
crazy very easy on Fusion 5. Fusion 5 has all the same tools as the
smoke DVE plus the node based interface, 3D particles, MUCH better text tool, etc.
Fusion also works in 32 bit float which smoke cannot.

For me, that combination is pretty sweet.

I have yet to see one editing program that can do everything well. You need a combination
of programs to do good work. The thing is to try to integrate the programs you use as best you can.

Adobe is trying to do that and I think they are on the right track.

Down the road, for Hi-Def, I'll probably get a Matrox Axio and network that with Fusion 5.

If you can come up with a better combo, let me know.





John Mastrogiacomo
Spectra Video


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jimmybee500
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Jan 30, 2007 at 3:43:45 pm

Hi John,

You say "down the road"....is your Smoke one of the new Linux boxes then, or an Standard-def SGI one?

I've been looking at the Axio HD - looks very fast, but Premiere is lacking in compositing power and although you have AE in the suite there are certain 3D compositing capabilities that are missing. Do you think an Axio is a match for a Smoke then for speed and everything else John? We're *STILL* not 100% decided on our main suite!

I've not used Fusion 5..I use AE for most things and a touch of Combustion for stuff AE's not so good at. We were thinking of networking an 8-core Xeon PC running AE/Combustion, etc with a Smoke, to tackle all the stuff the Smoke is not so well geared towards. Does that sound like a good combo to you?

I might try Fusion on the PC and see what it's like if there's a demo knocking about.

Other option was - is it possible to run one PC with XP64 *AND* with Linux Redhat and just reboot in either? I quite fancy Shake, but don't want to go the Mac route..they do a Linux version don't they?

*Production Studio Premium / *Combustion 3
-------------------------------------
Win XP Pro SP2 / Intel P4 3GHz / 2GB RAM / GeForce FX5200 / DeckLink Pro / Sony BVM-20G1E / DVS SDI Clipstation / 110GB boot/80GB media/600GB RAID-0


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John Mastrogiacomo
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Feb 1, 2007 at 11:23:58 am

Hi Jimmybee,

I don't use AE. I just use Fusion 5.1. Fusion has a much better 3D environment than AE.
I would say with Fusion 5.1 it is better than Smokes 3D environment, although Smokes 3D
environment is very good.

The problem is, Smoke is layer based and the DVE cannot handle sapphire plug-ins. You have
to do all you plug-in effects first and then import that into the DVE. That is very convoluted.
Try doing anything complicated in the Smoke DVE or AE for that matter, and you will start pulling your hair out very quickly.

Example: Load some footage, split the RGB channels and apply different effects to each channel, make the luminance from one channel the alpha for another channel, apply sapphire plugins to various channels, import some 3D objects via FBX, throw in some 3D particles, add some 3D text with textures, track some objects and attach other objects to the trackers, put out different versions all in the same pass...you get the idea. Very straight forward in Fusion 5.1. A nightmare in smoke and AE.

Smoke users have been screaming for a node based DVE for years but it is nowhere in sight. I think
discreet doesn't want to take business away from FFI. This will be their downfall down the road
unless they change.

Right now I have an Octane MXE running SD video only. It will cost me a fortune to upgrade to Smoke HD compared to buying an AXIO.

Smoke has a fantastic color corrector and chroma keyer. Fusions CC is not quite as good but with tweaking you can get the results you need. Fusion can use the Ultimatte and Primmatte chroma keyers (maybe a little slower - but they will do the job). Fusion's tracker is close to smoke's and more flexible in some ways. (Ex: You can't track backwards with the smoke tracker but you can with Fusion's)

Overall, I guess it depends on what kind of work you are doing. If you have a client over you shoulder and you are doing basic stuff, it's hard to beat Smoke, but if you are doing effects intensive spots, etc. Smoke isn't the best choice.

I believe eyeon has a demo version of Fusion although I don't think the demo version allows plugins. But you will get a feel for how nice it is to work with a node based effects system.

Don't get me wrong, Smoke is really good if you use it for what it is intended for - as a finishing tool.
It has a pretty good archiver which I really like. You can do all the simple things very fast, but people try to use it for everything which is not what it is intended to do.

There is no one program that can do everything.

For editing and effects I use Smoke, Fusion 5.1 Lightwave 9, QFX, Illustrator and Vegas for audio, plus other programs for DVD authoring and compression.

The best thing users can realize is that you need to use the right tool for the job. I see so many people trying to do everything with one or two programs. They are making life tough for themselves.

If you have never used a node based effects system, it will take a little getting used to. But once it sinks in it is very logical and easy to use - much easier than Smoke which I think has a very unintuitive
user interface.

I hope this help you out.




John Mastrogiacomo
Spectra Video


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jimmybee500
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Feb 1, 2007 at 2:16:56 pm

Thanks for the info John.

I think I will get hold of a demo of Fusion somewhere down the line if/when our work gets heavier on the compositing/advance fx work..at the mo I mainly do mograph and some simple (by your standards) compositing in AE, so have no real need for Fusion just yet. I am hoping Smoke will tackle some of the more involved 3D compositing that AE is not so hot/fast at.

If our FX work develops - which is what I'm hoping - Fusion running on a fast PC might be the perfect accompaniment to the Smoke then?

Basically at the mo we have an Editbox editor who will run the Smoke, I do all the 2D mograph and vfx/compositing (AE/Combustion/PS, etc) and we have another guy who runs Lightwave/Softimage XSI on a separate 3D station. It's all a bit of a nightmare moving stuff around/sharing files at the mo plus you have to play directly into the Editbox via SDI which is a pain. The plan is to integrate our machines much better with a big facility overhaul in the near future (aswell as going fully HD).

I want to do simpler 3D stuff on my system running Cinema4D or Pro Animator, leaving the more complex modelling to mr. XSI. I hear Smoke isn't great at mograph either, but does have 3D text capabilities..so hopefully I'll still get plenty of that kind of work if my PC is fast enough and media sharing becomes more seamless.
Any thoughts for networking/SAN storage John, or are you a one-man band? We've looked at XRAID/XSERVE which *I think* you can run Smoke/PCs & Macs off to share data via Fibre Channel..any experience of this?

Thanks,
Jim.

*Production Studio Premium / *Combustion 3
-------------------------------------
Win XP Pro SP2 / Intel P4 3GHz / 2GB RAM / GeForce FX5200 / DeckLink Pro / Sony BVM-20G1E / DVS SDI Clipstation / 110GB boot/80GB media/600GB RAID-0


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John Mastrogiacomo
Re: Which NLE to go for?
on Feb 2, 2007 at 3:38:34 am

"Any thoughts for networking/SAN storage John, or are you a one-man band? We've looked at XRAID/XSERVE which *I think* you can run Smoke/PCs & Macs off to share data via Fibre Channel..any experience of this?"

Right now I just have the PC and the smoke networked with ethernet.

You might want to look at a product like xstoner which can access the stone drives directly from the PC.

eyeon is also suppose to come out with a product like xstoner for $1,000. It was announced last year but I haven't seen it yet.

I will probably get rid of smoke later this year and get an AXIO. Then, I'll probably get a couple of render stations for Fusion and network them together. For my needs, it will be almost ideal.




John Mastrogiacomo
Spectra Video


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