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Independent filmmakers considering Smoke

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Ian MacLean
Independent filmmakers considering Smoke
on Feb 28, 2015 at 2:02:04 am

I'm leaving Autodesk, and thought I'd share my experience in case there are any independent filmmakers who were considering Smoke.

To be clear, it's a very good program, and I'd like to use it. I simply can't afford it. And while the Autodesk webpage has gotten clearer about the pricing structure ($1600 with support but no render nodes), it's really the corporate management that have converted me into someone who won't be a customer in the future. Ever, really.

It's simply that I was suckered in to a sale price on Smoke about 26 months ago of $2800 bucks, and since then Autodesk has sucked a total of over $4200 from me, and I don't get much for that. I'd probably have to give them another $1600 in January, and they won't let me use my old 8 core mac pro as a render node.

I'm going to put that money towards a 5K iMac.

If, like me, you've also considered Adobe and Blackmagic, those two options feel like the corporations are offering hot chocolate and hugs compared to Autodesk, who by comparison feel like they're shooting at me with those bean bags out of shotguns the riot police use. All they seem to understand are lawyers negotiating contracts for effects houses, not little guys.

Possibly by the 2015 NAB show Blackmagic will offer Fusion on the mac platform. My workflow is, instead of Smoke, going to be FCP X, Blackmagic Resolve, and Blackmagic Fusion (Photoshop and Lightroom as well). I'm sorry I got grifted by Autodesk's $2800 bait, but excited about moving forward and having my big 2008 mac pro continue to be a great working render partner. Adobe and Blackmagic encourage you to use your old hardware. Autodesk (incomprehensibly) eliminated it as an option.

Should they leave this post up, don't bother starting a debate. I've previously gotten zero sympathy from anyone on this sub forum. The people here don't work for themselves, so don't care what they're clients get billed for subscriptions and don't sympathize with independents who have to pay for things out of their own pockets. I'm out of here, and will see you in the Blackmagic sub forum.

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Sascha Haber
Re: Independent filmmakers considering Smoke
on Mar 3, 2015 at 12:29:44 pm

We are very much looking forward to your charming ways asking questions about free programs from people who actually make a living with this.

Resolve 11.2 - Smoke 2015 EXT1SP2 - Sapphire 8
Colorist / VFX Guru / Aerial footage nerd

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Ian MacLean
Re: Independent filmmakers considering Smoke
on Mar 3, 2015 at 6:32:29 pm
Last Edited By Ian MacLean on Mar 3, 2015 at 7:29:41 pm

Exactly! Thanks for proving my point. You take pride in being more technical than me, and making a living as a Visual Effects contractor. (I asked, in a previous post on this forum, for anyone who wasn't getting paid to use Smoke to speak up. Crickets... no response at all)

You can't identify AT ALL with someone who's actually trying to get their own vision in the can, but who can't afford a big crew or post houses and is scrambling for funds. So I'm sorry you don't think I've paid my dues, and that I don't qualify for your little club, and that a sucker is born every minute and I deserved to be suckered out of $4200 by Autodesk. But I'm leaving anyway.

Again, I post for that prosumer / independent filmmaker: IMHO, don't let yourself get grifted by Autodesk with any enticing offers. You'll regret it soon. And tread lightly on creative cow. There's a smuggy snarkness here for beginning filmmakers who don't qualify in their eyes. I actually got a telephone call from one of the founders of this site and he was supremely sarcastic and self satisfied as he cancelled my user account.

My crime? Defending myself when experienced lighting pros told me it was idiotic to use green light to light a green screen (some of these 'experts' also made arguments / explanations which were completely wrong in their physics. This was a few years ago. These days, you'll get the following from the internet (and I post it in the interest of sharing valuable VFX information that might help filmmakers get better footage for keying):

"If you can, try to source some super green tubes for Kinoflo. These enable you to get VERY VERY green light but at very low levels to light your backgrounds with. Low light on your green screen, means less is reflected into your subject and contaminating your foreground. Kinos are a softer light and they have a magical way of also reducing creases and flaws in your backgrounds too.

I just did some sim-travel shots in a studio yesterday and I was lighting 12'x12 green screens with a SINGLE supergreen tube. I often have the green sitting at below 30% on a waveform."

Notice the total absence of the sarcasm and superiority demonstrated by Mr. Haber, who is very much NOT the independent filmmakers this post was addressed to:

Re: the new smoke sibscription model
by Sascha Haber on Apr 9, 2014 at 7:35:55 am

This is what i was waiting for....
I work in a studio that has the licence , but does not hire people anymore.
We are all freelancing...
We are, on the other hand, able to take the project with us.
This enables me to rent Smoke for a month and chance a logo or extend a shot i already did without the client or myself being bound to the studio.

I am loving it...!

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Sascha Haber
Re: Independent filmmakers considering Smoke
on Mar 4, 2015 at 10:55:25 am

Exactly...thanks for repeating this.
Yow know, i do not really understand what ordinary people these days think it requires to make independent films.
Back in the time when we started doing this we talked to the pros and tried to skim a little cream of their wisdom and experience.
We all worked our balls of changing tapes, carrying cables, cleaning up Flame projects, running behind DOPs, producers, directors, lighters, gaffers, grips and dollies.
Software was outrageously expensive, only suits offered Flame access, or DaVinci or Pablos...first with the release of Softimage 2.5 on NT the crowd had access to 3D.
Warez were the only option for so called independent filmmakers, or being at the grace of a studio which means knowing people.
Today you get a free Resolve, a Smoke for 1500 a year, Plugins that do the job of 150 roto "artists" and render power to realise dreams for out of this world over night.
Times for the inspired ones havn't been better...ever.
Good luck with your endeavours, film is rock'n'roll , you kinda like to shake your hips a bit :)

Resolve 11.2 - Smoke 2015 EXT1SP2 - Sapphire 8
Colorist / VFX Guru / Aerial footage nerd

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Thomas Mathai
Re: Independent filmmakers considering Smoke
on Mar 5, 2015 at 2:09:37 am

So why don't you stop spending money and find people who can actually do this work, and want to help you.

Independent filmmaking is still collaborative, you can't do it all alone, and frankly unless you are really good at visual effects, it's going to take forever and will never live up to expectations.

All software/hardware is only as good as the person using it.

After reading all the threads, the only logical conclusion is you suckered yourself into spending money you can ill afford for software you assume will make your vision come to life without effort.

There are indie filmmakers who have experience in post, so using Smoke isn't as big a challenge as someone who's completely new to it.

Why don't you find software tailored to yours skill level like HitFilm. It's designed for the beginner indie filmmaker.

Instead you plan to use Fusion and Resolve, which despite being free or cheap, are professional level and complex. I expect you to have just as much trouble wrapping your head around those as much as Smoke.

Since since cost is an issue, why are you even getting a 5k iMac? Surely you can find a well stocked PC for half the cost and use that money for other production needs. Everything you plan to use, except for FCP X, will run on it.

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Ian MacLean
Re: Independent filmmakers considering Smoke
on Mar 7, 2015 at 6:56:37 pm
Last Edited By Ian MacLean on Mar 7, 2015 at 7:06:53 pm

"the only logical conclusion is you suckered yourself into spending money you can ill afford for software you assume will make your vision come to life without effort." by Thomas Mathai on Mar 4, 2015 at 6:09:37 pm

Wow. That's a stunningly clueless statement. You seem totally ignorant of the Supermeet in Vegas, Autodesk's keynote presentation there to thousands of people which was EXCLUSIVELY on how Smoke could make your vision come to life with ease, and Autodesk offering a brand new version of Smoke, from the Autodesk website, without any caveats that they'd terminate ownership upgrades or that future updates or upgrades would run at equivalent costs, for $2750.

I 'suckered' myself? Autodesk didn't play any part in suckering me? Wow...

And somehow, I don't think there's a real cost argument to be made in not spending a few thousand on software (Fusion / Resolve / FCP X) vs hiring someone to do that work for you. That buys you a few hours work, or maybe one short project, and then you have nothing, and have learned nothing. Your argument is fundamentally flawed / clueless. Mr. Haber seems to get it a bit more in that every year, it is getting possible to do it all yourself, even on my budget. Anyway, I'm trying, and I don't think I'm the only one.

Mr. Haber, I liked and agreed with the end of your last post, thanks.

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