Autodesk should bring Flame to Windows - but they won't
After years of not knowing what direction they want to take with the Smoke/Flame/Lustre thing, right now Autodesk have currently decided on Smoke 2015 on Mac and Flame or Flame Premium on a linux system. Neither solution is great.
For 99% of us, the Flame systems are way out of our budget and quite frankly hugely overpriced for what you get. The facility where I am at now bought a Smoke 5 years ago and has just been upgraded to Flame 2015. Trouble is, it can't do half the things it should as it is running on 5 year old hardware. The GPU ranks at about one hundredth on this list http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html. This is an 80k system? It crashes when it tries to render particles and takes an age to render simple things such as motion blur. So, are we expected to pay another 40-50k for new hardware to run it properly? We already pay an extortionate subscription fee (which for my money should include a new GPU every year). Plugin support is terrible as is codec support for both ingesting and outputting. Clients don't like using it because it costs twice as much as After Effects and everything takes twice as long.
Then there's Smoke, now only on Mac. I've heard Autodesk's reasoning that only a Mac port has come was that porting to Mac was easier than Windows, yet there are several Autodesk programmes that run on both platforms. There must be another reason? The Windows market is far too big to ignore just because a port will take some time. The reason being is that Autodesk don't want us to build mammoth systems that are far superior in CPU and GPU power to a Mac and the overly priced Linux systems that they peddle to the larger post houses, who's clients clearly have more money than know-how if they're happy to pay 2k a day to get into these suites. Ok, right now the current crop of MacPros just about hold up to a Windows self-build, assuming you don't mind paying about 30% more for what you get. But what about in 3 years? The firepros will be outdated, as will the Xeon CPUs, which are slower than similarly priced i7s. As editors/colourists/fx artists we don't even need Xeons - they are for 24 hours continuous use ie servers. I just want the most speed for my money. An overclocked i7 will give 5 years of life and even at the end you can just pop another one in for a few hundred quid. GPUs are doubling in speed every two years. I like the option of popping in a new nVidia GTX when a faster one comes out. Simply put, I don't want to have to spend 6-7k+ on a new Macs every 3 years to keep up with the game. Personally I also think software wise that Smoke 2015 is weak. It is an editor that can do a few things, it is not a complete finishing system. It lacks the plugin support and it's inbuilt effects are not complete enough to be a standalone workstation. No particles?
The time of the turnkey system has come to an end, yet Autodesk are still holding on to the mythical box concept as long as they can to keep their profits high, rather than providing us artists with solutions that we really want. They are going to be in big trouble after the launch of NUKE studio and when After Effects eventually switches to disk playback rather than from RAM. Blackmagic are lading the way with Resolve and Avid are heading down the software only route as well. Why would anyone pay 80k plus subscription when you can build a superior system for 10k and have it running a full suite of software?
Bring Smoke/Flame to Windows and give us the full Flame toolset. Let us build our own hardware so we're always able to work on the fastest hardware available. Do it because it will give us the best combination of power and creativity. Will Autodesk do it? Will they heck.
You could organise a Facebook flashmob outside of IBC ;)
A slice of color...
Resolve 10.1.4 - Smoke 2015
Colorist / VFX / Aerial footage nerd