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Matt Stoltz
why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Feb 14, 2013 at 3:05:19 am

I have never really got a true answer out of anyone on this but excuse me for knowing much about Smoke or Avid Symphony -but why do they call these editors "finishing tools"

what is it that you cant "finish" in Adobe Premier or FCP X or something.

Can anyone give me a good easy explanation.

Thanks

Matt


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Joel Osis
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Feb 14, 2013 at 8:26:53 am

Think

Offline then Online


Start then Finish

You finish off the job, put the final touches on and get it out the door,

Editors like pp or final cut are editors only and should be treated that way,

Most finishing systems have an all in one toolset so you can tackle any task for whatever the problem, no jumping between apps.


w: http://www.joelosis.com
e info@joelosis.com


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Gustavo Bermudas
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Feb 14, 2013 at 6:42:51 pm

Unfortunately the color warper, and its workflow, cannot compete with anything that does real time "finishing" color grading.

I guess after color timing in another package you could take it to Smoke and add titles and what not, but if I take it to Final Cut after color, would that make Final Cut a "finishing" tool as well?

For me, a true finishing system would be able to do an online, conduct a color session, add FX, titles and export to tape.

The intention seems to be there, but I wouldn't call it a finishing system at this point with its sub-standard color grading capabilities, hopefully in the future.

And yes, I know of "Flame Premium"...


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Adam Corey
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Feb 14, 2013 at 7:02:03 pm

Which system(s) would you consider a finishing tool?

Adam Corey
DC Collective
Design - Edit - Create
http://www.dccollective.tv


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Gustavo Bermudas
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Feb 15, 2013 at 5:32:39 pm

The only one I can think of is Pablo Quantel, I think Smoke once they get their act together with color it will be unstoppable, but they still seem to struggle to adapt to this new times, mostly I think because their mentality is still wrapped on big irons systems, which seems like it's destined to extinction thanks to our Blackmagic friends.

And of course Flame premium from Autodesk is a true finishing system, although quite unaccesible for the average user, just like Pablo Quantel.

Assimilate Scratch looks like it could be a true finishing system, but their editing module sucks to be honest.

So at this point, I would say the best route is to build a finishing system with a workflow by using different apps. If Adobe improves Speedgrade, that would be also interesting to see, the whole Adobe ecosystem would become a finishing system


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Lorian Drest
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Feb 18, 2013 at 10:32:25 am

One to ad to the "real" finishing systems.

SGO mistika runs circles around smoke, flame, pablo, baselight, filmmaster...etc.

Full blown grading tool, effects, vector paint, debayer, denoise... in 4k and all in real time. Means, just press play :-)

and stereo if you really want.

Cheers

L.


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Brian Mulligan
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Feb 14, 2013 at 7:37:24 pm

The term Finishing is somewhat outdated. In the past it was low res offline edits done on Avid or Lightworks, or FCP back when thoses systems couldn't handle the Uncompresed files.

And EDL would be spit out and a conform would be done in Smoke. Then color and FX and titles. SMoke has been a finsihing system since birth regardless of what others have posted.

But... there are more tools now, and Resolve is designed for color work and does it better and easier than Smoke. The Color Warper could use some masking abaility.

However, almost any system can be a "finishing" system becasue we no longer care about uncompressed and prores or DNxHD is good enough. SO computers are faster and software is more advanced and the power it needed to work with moving images is availble on tablets now. But in a compressed level.

Smoke does all of it's processing at 16 bit float and 444. So even if you are working with Prores, each frame is unpacked to uncompressed, processed and repack to prores. Therefore you aren't compressing and compressing over and over.

Even though Prores and DNxHD are great codecs, over time they will breakdown.

So Finishing now, just means a tool powerful enough to do Color, FX, Titles, and Conform.... and edit if you wish.

Smoke does this.

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Matt Stoltz
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Feb 14, 2013 at 10:17:59 pm

Hey guys thanks for all your replies.

As far as what Im doing -Im just a freelance cinematographer and I do all my own editing-With either Premier Pro 6 or FCP X - I also have Boris FX Box set and Genarts Sapphire Edge and some other random effects for FCP X -So I feel like I can totally "finish" a project with the tools I have -Which I do of course but wanted others opinions. If I need true compositing I use After Effects and to me its not near as hard to go from one program to the other anymore.

Brian M -thanks for your response-funny thing, I was supposed to come with the guys from Ball State WIPB to your demo-unfortunally I was sick. Would have liked to been there

Matt


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Brian Mulligan
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Feb 15, 2013 at 12:23:51 pm

Small internet. But nice to meet you here.

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Mike Roy
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Feb 15, 2013 at 2:31:30 pm

I agree with Brian's assessment... while Smoke has always been branded as a 'finishing tool', it is difficult in this day and age to put that label on it when so many other apps offer high-end finishing options. At the same time, Smoke also has what has been traditionally "offline" options, such as transcoding at low quality and logging footage for editing.

It's ultimately about what the app can do for you, and the return on investment you put into it in both software, equipment, and training. And Smoke has a lot going for it there: a company who knows how to develop software for the long term, who listens to its customers, and a feature set that does enough to be the go-to application to get just about any media task done. it's shortcomings can be easily filled with a helper app to provide things like camera tracking or CG.

Mike Roy
_____________________________
http://www.mikeroyartist.com
http://www.smoketutorials.com


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jake blackstone
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Feb 15, 2013 at 10:09:08 pm

It is clear, that Smoke is a combination of less, than best in class tools. Compositing, color grading, editing etc. can be done better with other software. Said that, the strength of Smoke is the sum of all elements. One can argue, that Adobe CS offers similar functionality, until one tries to redo something, that was done in AE or SG or PP. It's very difficult and time consuming to do. I face similar dilemma using FCP, AE, Mocha, Photoshop, Resolve or FilmMaster. Smoke comes closest in offering all tools in one application, the holy grail of finishing. Unfortunately, as I was saying couple of years back, you can't have a real finishing application without proper color grading. What Joel demo'ed is a perfect example why color grading should NOT be done in Smoke or Flame. Something, that easily and quickly could be accomplished with just a couple of nodes in Resolve turns into an ordeal. In the good old days of a $1000 an hour Flame sessions something like that would be fine. Today, when clients walks in and keeps vigil on the clock, I doubt he'll ever come back, when he sees the heroic efforts to do a simple tracked mask with myriad of nodes, when last night he whipped out the same or better grade on his MacBook, using free Resolve. Unfortunately, this happens with ever increased regularity. I had client snicker at my very high end FilmMaster, when it's tracking wasn't as fast and precise as his free Resolve. That is until I showed him the new deformation tracker. This is the new reality and ignoring it will not help. Autodesk realizes, that making money in color grading, unless you're on the very top like Baselight and FilmMaster is a losing proposition. You can't compete with free. BlackMagic is a HARDWARE company and that is why they have no problem giving away their software, as this still drives the sale of their hardware. Autodesk is making a big mistake, again, by not leveraging Lustre technology. It would be very easy to port Lustre to Mac and make it a companion to Smoke. Even simple "send to Lustre" command, a-la Adobe solution would be fine for the time being. Personally, even today, I would ditch Resolve for Lustre in a heartbeat. Autodesk doesn't have the hardware to sell, like the BM, but Lustre could very much help to drive the sale of Smoke.
The use of off-line vs on-line material is tedious and time consuming. Disconnecting and reconnecting is not a good solution. In essence it's a new re-conform. There also should be a better way of working with proxies and changing de-bayer quality on the fly, without the disconnect-reconnect, is a must. I'd like to see more use of GPU, so there would be less need to render.
Finally, things may be not that grim after all. I had been told, that FilmLight is working on the Baselight plugin for Flame- a-la Baselight Editions. If that is true, problem solved. Then all Autodesk needs to do is to do the same with Smoke. NAB is in less than two months, so will see...


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MichaelMaier
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Mar 11, 2013 at 9:50:16 pm

[Brian Mulligan] "The term Finishing is somewhat outdated. In the past it was low res offline edits done on Avid or Lightworks, or FCP back when thoses systems couldn't handle the Uncompresed files."

This is what I would call Onlining. To me at least, Finishing has more to do with doing things like Grading,sharpening, stabilizing, reframing, adding titles and then mastering. This is independent of resolution or compression, which is what offline and online refers to. Something shot on a compressed format still needs finishing. HDCAM is compressed and Star Wars still needed finishing. I hope I'm making sense here.



[Brian Mulligan] "But... there are more tools now, and Resolve is designed for color work and does it better and easier than Smoke."

Sure it's miles better than Smoke. But the workflow is much slower because you depend on round trip. Some would say that Resolve can be used to finish. But there are caveats.

[Brian Mulligan] "Smoke does all of it's processing at 16 bit float and 444. So even if you are working with Prores, each frame is unpacked to uncompressed, processed and repack to prores. Therefore you aren't compressing and compressing over and over."

This is one of the biggest reasons to finish on something like Smoke over finishing on something like a NLE. A lot of NLEs recompress and don't tell you. This makes a lot of difference.


[Brian Mulligan] "So Finishing now, just means a tool powerful enough to do Color, FX, Titles, and Conform.... and edit if you wish."

But it's not like we have a whole lot of programs that can do all that. Also, Smoke is really the only one affordable to us mortals. So finishing now is the same as it always was. An expensive proposition where you need an all-in-one application for more flexibility and best results, to which most programs are not, specially not NLEs. So the term finishing is not really outdated if you consider all the above. Can you finish in FCP or Premiere? Sure. But it will look like poopoo, unless you're doing low-end work. So I think it didn't really change much in the end.



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Matt Stoltz
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:36:55 pm

Hey Mike -I like your explanation but I had a question for ya

[Brian Mulligan] "Smoke does all of it's processing at 16 bit float and 444. So even if you are working with Prores, each frame is unpacked to uncompressed, processed and repack to prores. Therefore you aren't compressing and compressing over and over."

This is one of the biggest reasons to finish on something like Smoke over finishing on something like a NLE. A lot of NLEs recompress and don't tell you. This makes a lot of difference.


Is there any way to upload an example of video done on Smoke vs Premier to show the difference in compression? When you say this is the big difference... what is your FINAL destination for the video?????
If your destination is just back to the web (which for most of us) not working in the film industry are doing, would it really matter if a program compresses it over and over??

Yes I love to start at the highest res I can and compress from there. So can you explain this a little more or post some examples-I would love to see the difference.

Thanks

Matt


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MichaelMaier
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Mar 13, 2013 at 3:03:56 am

[Matt Stoltz] "Is there any way to upload an example of video done on Smoke vs Premier to show the difference in compression?"

Sorry, I use neither Smoke or Premiere.


[Matt Stoltz] "When you say this is the big difference... what is your FINAL destination for the video?????"

The difference will still be there regardless.


[Matt Stoltz] "If your destination is just back to the web (which for most of us) not working in the film industry are doing, would it really matter if a program compresses it over and over??"

This is something only you can answer.

[Matt Stoltz] "Yes I love to start at the highest res I can and compress from there."

Sorry, not sure what you need explained. Why less compression is better than more compression?



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Matt Stoltz
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Mar 13, 2013 at 2:30:33 pm

Hey Mike
Ok so your answer are very vague. Im a little confused. How can you say all these assumptions about Smoke and you dont even use it? Curious to what your choice of NLE system??

Brian M. if your still reading this could you expand on some of the questions I asked Mike-especially the compression part.

thanks

Matt


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Brian Mulligan
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Mar 13, 2013 at 2:52:24 pm

As good as many of the compression like DNxHD and Prores are, they are still compressed formats. So eventually they will degrade your video over time. So everytime you export, process in another tool, export again and then reimport there is a chance for degredation.

Export prores out of NLE.
Import into Resolve or After Effects.
Do some processing/effets/color
Export out again Prores
Import back in to NLE.

That's a lot of added compression that you shouldn't need.
I also hate the attitude of "it's only for the web". The web is the future and there is no reason that the web should look any worse than broadcast. Broadcast alone through cable and mpeg2 compression... more added compression to the final result... is bad enough.

I guess we can all say "it doesn't have to look goodbecasue it's all goign to look like crap on the air or on the web." But I am not sure that that is the attitude that will further us. I am not saying that you believe this way, but I have heard it from others. We as professionals should always trive to produce the best image we can.

Are you really going to see the degridation with the naked eye? Maybe not. But your keyers and color tools will see it and keeping the best qulaity throughout the pipeline is always best.

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Matt Stoltz
Re: why do they call Smoke a "finishing tool"
on Mar 14, 2013 at 4:16:24 pm

Hey Brian
Thanks for your explanation -makes more sense now -

Export prores out of NLE.
Import into Resolve or After Effects.
Do some processing/effets/color
Export out again Prores
Import back in to NLE.


I definitely see your point here -Its hard sometimes to remember to look at it like this because this is what I do sometimes-I try to use Adobes Dynamic link when I can when Im using Premier Pro CS6 but other times Im using FCP X


I also hate the attitude of "it's only for the web". The web is the future and there is no reason that the web should look any worse than broadcast. Broadcast alone through cable and mpeg2 compression... more added compression to the final result... is bad enough.

TOTALLY agree with you here and people think that "just because it is the web" it will look like crap-thats a pet peeve of mine as well-Depending on your footage -I do try to start with the highest quality out of the gate. Now thats hard to do when Im shooting a lot of DSLR stuff -then thats where your last statement

Are you really going to see the degridation with the naked eye? Maybe not. But your keyers and color tools will see it and keeping the best qulaity throughout the pipeline is always best.

is so true as well-if you find yourself editing DSLR footage -are you using it as is or converting to PROres or something. Some projects I have converted others I leave as is.

I do understand the point of Smoke -do everything in Smoke and only compress once.

Thanks Brian

Matt


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