Feelings about my SMOKE OS X DEMO
Finally working through my demo for SMOKE OS X, I must say the interface and workflow is taking a lot of getting used to. Having stuff broken into primaries like Action, Keying, Paint etc. is a bit weird for me. So say something like edge control on the KEYING aspects, it has to be done through the main interface, I can't add extra edge control anywhere else. Also I am so used to stacking multiple paint or keying nodes in NUKE, SHAKE.
Aside from the workflow being upside down from what I was used to in NUKE, SHAKE and FCP/AVID workflows, I must say that I an not a fan of ACTION, DVE or whatever its called. I feel like I just stepped backwards in technology and its pretty archaic.
I know the AUTODESK crew has its own way it does stuff, but its a little like, if I learn SMOKE, I am going to UNLEARN a lot of other stuff. My brain can only hold so much information.
Anyway, maybe I am bad tripping, but I don't think I can do decent composites in ACTION/DVE. I could do editorial, some color, paint etc.. IN SMOKE, but full compositing, I am having a hard time rapping my head around it's workflow.
BATCH looks great, I can totally rap my head around that.
Smoke takes a lot of getting used to. I believe they need to make it more similar to other systems for it to take off like JKL editing for instance and also the Lock button baffles me. I learned FCP editing very quickly but Smoke feels like I'm editing with boxing gloves on.
Also they need to rethink some of the things they do like Action which you can get used to but has many bottlenecks like having CC, keys and crops attached to the media and not an Axis. And simple things like deleting or copying a layer become un-simple and rarely do what would be very simple in AE or Nuke. The old DVE they had made more sense to me.
Also what is annoying is that you can access the CC in several places but it's a little different from module to module. Why does the CC module itself have more tools than the CC in Action or the timeline?
Batch is the most powerful thing, but too bad it's not in Smoke for Mac. Also the Mac version seems fairly sluggish in comparison to the Linux version.
I haven't given up yet, but I am not feeling at all confident about using it professionally. It seems like a lot of tools there, but they are so all over the place. Like I can pull the key I want with the master keyer and I could do a basic comp there, but when I want to change those elements around, the foreground or the background, I am a bit baffled about the best way to work.
It doesn't feel exceptionally fast, but I would say the ability to render an effect, then go back to editing, is exciting and I do think its painting is amazing.
Stuff like the redundacy of having SOFT FX, on the timeline seems weird, but I guess if you make an edit, then make a clip out of it, you could do a total color correction to the entire edit, without having to export, then re-import.
Aside from the learning curve, I feel like manual is every bit as confusing. It is like 2500 pages and it just explains what everything does, it never says a context, or breaks down why you would do this when, in a workflow environment, or for what reason.
Its like, go into A, press B twice, then B again, then A, then your done?? It doesn't show the interface items in context to what they do. Its like the manual is written only for people who know the program forwards and back.
Yeah I didn't mean to imply I don't like it. Actually I do as it is a very powerful system capable of really good results. That being said it can be a frustrating system with many things where you wonder why they did it like that.
yeah, its powerful, that's why I am still moving forward and not giving up.. I just always considered myself a power user and now I'm humbled. NOT having RBG on the viewer is weird. FRONT, BACK, MATT, bMatt, whatever else, I find confusing. F1, F3 etc. Maybe their is a reason for that, not sure. Where and what is controlling that ALPHA chanel is never perfectly clear, I always have to investigate a bit.
Also the beta is great but I can only run it on one computer so far because the specs are so high, I would love to be able to practice at home. The hone at home doesn't even have to run fast, I just want to practice the interface.
I'm a Smoke newbie as well. And since March I'm a proud owner and don't regret it at all. This are the reasons:
1. The imfamous gamma shifts happening unpredictable with QT-driven applications made me rethink my whole post production pipeline.
2. Quality issues when it comes to rendering within in FCP were another reason to look out for an alternative for finishing.
3. My grading system (SpeedGrade) does a wonderful job but is surely not a finishing systems when it come to versioning, re-editing and what not. Reconforming projects causes many headaches but happens all the time - clients change their mind. That happens often even after a longer period of time, hence the resurrection of a project is a vital aspect too.
This is what Smoke can do very well and for what it is made for:
a. Conforming and Archiving
b. Editing, video and sound
c. Basic compositing in 3D space, powerful painting and titling, shot based grading
d. Maintaining the best possible quality
e. Working with clients in the back.
Smoke on Mac is not a dedicated compositing system. If you want to compare it to Nuke or Shake take its brother Flame as the appropriate contestant. Batch is not included into Smoke on Mac, it is in Smoke on Linux but not the full tool set you'll find in Flame. Smoke's 3D compositor Action has it's merits and some downsides. I'm missing not to have an convenient way to create realistic depth of field scenes. Apart from that I feel pretty familiar now with Action.
Actually there is the history function that works in conjunction with the Editdesk a bit like Batch - check it out.
I agree that the interface and the way how Autodesk finishing and compositing systems think and work needs getting used to. The GUI is surely not intuitive but very powerful when the operator is trained on the system. Have you ever experienced a seasoned Flame or Smoke operator in a talented post boutique?
And yes, the way you have to edit in Smoke is not as quick as in FCP or Avid for the newbie. That will change after some months editing with Smoke. IMHO, there are 3 flavors of editing: FCP (Premier Pro), Avid and Smoke. Smoke's way has some advantages, synching for instance - actually Smoke's sound capabilities are far better than what you can do in FCP.
Last but not least is the Archiving tool one of the big things that make Smoke so powerful - you have to dig through the interface and practice a bit but when archiving and back-uping is an issue for you you will love Smoke.
My type of projects fit very well into the Smoke on Mac's realm. I do TVCs, commercials for the cinema, corporate projects and similar things. Theses projects need some vfx work, consistent grading, many versions and last but not least reliable backups that can be resurrected at any time. For heavy compositing there is NukeX, Fusion and of course Shake. I haven't touched Shake in the last 4 months not only once. Smoke can accomplish a lot when you have wrapped your head around it's tools. I admit that takes some time.
Like you I'm coming from FCP to Smoke to advance my toolset for finishing.
You have to think that Smoke is building off years of "doing it that way." There are SO many experienced Smoke editors; if you'd change too much now there would be a revolt. It's much like going back to Avid for me: feels very mechanical on the timeline. FCP was really born in a more "fluid" and "gestural" era.
I have to agree with you on doing effects in Smoke/Mac. Fortunately for me I'm working on Smoke Advanced: with a double click you have a full-on Batch effects environment available IN THE TIMELINE! It's so useful and powerful it's ridiculous. Like if Apple had found a way to embed Shake in FCP's filters tab. It's a real tease they don't have it for OSX.
But I would suggest spending time learning the Modular Keyer. Control+click in the K filed in Action. It'll give you a mini node-based keying/masking scenario that helps me immensely with roto and keying. (you can add edge control at whatever point in the tree you want!)
You have to think that Smoke is building off years of "doing it that way." There are SO many experienced Smoke editors; if you'd change too much now there would be a revolt.
I don't disagree at all with this statement, but I have seen evolution in other applications, mostly when I was doing programming and gui interface stuff, where things had to evolve really fast. The way it was done there, is that you always kept the OLD WAY, while adding features or workflows for a NEW way, then people always had an option to do it how they always have done it, then start to play with a NEW way when they have time.
I know I should just buckle down and still try to learn smoke, but it has been a little rough and a bit archaic. I feel like I am learning Quantel or Henry or Paintbox. Somewhat archaic workflow, but the final product is always pretty good.