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Chris Pettit
Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 15, 2015 at 4:41:53 am

A follow up to Riccardo's post. Just back from NAB. I didn't have time to look at Resolve improvements and being that I'm not an editor, wont comment at this point in that regard. However, quick additional thoughts regarding Blackmagic and Fusion 8:

Steve Roberts with Blackmagic (the creator of Fusion) was giving demos and on the floor in BM booth at NAB answering myriads of questions from myself and many others regarding everything imaginable. It was a truly stunning experience for me, I thought Fusion was largely a work in progress, I no longer do (pending the most important test of course: actually working with it in real world situations).

Some quick observations (with all the appropriate caveats about not having installed and worked with the software yet):

WAY faster than AE. GPU accelerated and CPU multi-threading. It's freakin' fast, and that was repeatedly demonstrated to me on machines that I insisted knowing the specs on (Mac and PC). It's unquestionably FAST. Fusion is not a new product, but it sure acts like one. AE feels slower by far in comparison (keeping in mind that trade show demos can be skewed). (BTW: more on what the Adobe people told me about speed issues at a later date)

The 3D environment is VASTLY superior. Cameras, perspective, movement of objects in 3D space is fluid and intuitive - fantastic. Appears very similar (in my limited time today) to the C4D environment, as opposed to the AE 3D camera and perspective that I've never liked, but never really got worked up about because my camera work is so often competed in C4D and then imported using AEC files.

Fusion does not appear to require a plug-in to see 3D objects in Z-space. It is capable of actually extruding text and other 2D objects and importing 3D meshes and then working with them in an intuitive and productive 3D interface. For me this means TONS in terms particles. 3D particles are native in Fusion unless I'm mistaken. Not just the particle cloud, the elements within them, repeatedly demonstrated in front of me. This appears to me to not just be "2.5D" like AE, but true 3D perception meaning your particles can actually by 3 dimensional and lit volumetrically.

Which leads me to one of the most suprising features I discovered. Fusion imports 3D scenes natively in FBX or Alembic formats. And then it allows you to move around the scene, in realtime, applying all the compositing and VFX, color power that is built in to Fusion. I have no idea how far this goes at the moment, or if there are any "gotchas" but WOW did this blow me away. This is not some quasi-capable pipeline between 2 specific proprietary apps like Cineware but what appears to be - empahsis "appears" to be a universal way to get 3D modeled, textured and lit scenes directly into your post solution / compositor and begin working with it creatively right away. I'm frankly unsure of how this impacts the 3D cameras and lights that you just imported as well, but looking forward to fining out as soon as work permits.

NODES: Big deal here. It's both the power as well as the source of apprehension for a lot of people, myself included. I cant tell you that my 2 hours with the Fusion guys have answered this completely. The only thing I can tell you is Steve Roberts demonstrated how complex projects can be organized using Nodes in a way that is VASTLY superior to endlessly madening nested compositions and lack of layer folders presented by AE workflow. I am so DONE with the needless complexity brought by the lack of layer folders in the AE timeline. So again, no real world testing of what I was shown today in my workflow, but it was amazing to watch the Fusion guys wrap up a huge level of complexity into a single elegant parent node, and then moving on the open up the complexity in another completely different area of the same peice of work. From what I say, this is a different spin on what I've wanted from Adobe for years but never got: organization of the individual elements of a peice of work instead of simply piling them on layer after layer...

Regarding the last observation: I asked the Adobe people when they might add layer folders or other organizational aides. The answer was essentially (we're working on it)...


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David Mathis
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 15, 2015 at 5:46:58 am

I was not able to attend NAB this year but from what I have been reading it is very clear that Blackmagic Design has been very busy. Everything from new cameras to Fusion and Resolve. Still waiting for the OS Xversion to ship. I like what I see. Fusion seems more responsive and looks a bit intimidating at first. Going to have to learn the node way of doing things but should be worth the effort.

Resolve looks insane, in a good way. Hoping the performance has improved in the edit page. No big change in the UI but the small improvements will help. Wish we did not have to wait until July for the release. Oh well, how the ball bounces.

One more observation, just updated FCP Xand Motion, nice improvements there. I am optomistic that Apple and BMD have viable alternatives.


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Chris Pettit
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 15, 2015 at 6:05:16 am
Last Edited By Chris Pettit on Apr 15, 2015 at 6:11:39 am

[David Mathis] "One more observation, just updated FCP Xand Motion, nice improvements there. I am optomistic that Apple and BMD have viable alternatives."

For the first time since this debate began 2 years ago, instead of trying to work to change (or fight) Adobe, I'm simply excited at permanently leaving Adobe. While there are plenty of people who find Adobe's new direction to be to their liking, there are now serious alternatives in the cross-platform environment, in addition to the robust Apple solutions you and others have reminded us previously of David.

I was worried. Still not free from worry. But optimism abounds that as THE CUSTOMER I actually matter to companies that want my money.

Even if Adobe thinks I dont matter.


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David Mathis
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 15, 2015 at 3:14:35 pm

I may very well migrate all the way over to Resolve for editing and finishing. I think this is the solution we have all been waiting for. On the flip side FCP X now offers masking tools and 3D text. Started playing around with that stuff, very exciting. An image mask is available as well.

This year has been exciting to say the least. Going to see what solutions there are on the Windows side of the fence. Exciting times ahead!


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 20, 2015 at 7:05:48 pm

[Chris Pettit] "For the first time since this debate began 2 years ago, instead of trying to work to change (or fight) Adobe, I'm simply excited at permanently leaving Adobe. While there are plenty of people who find Adobe's new direction to be to their liking, there are now serious alternatives in the cross-platform environment, in addition to the robust Apple solutions you and others have reminded us previously of David."

This is the win/win situation I was hoping would eventually come from CC. Many people lamented that Adobe's biggest competition was itself and the CC rift created a potential toe hold for new comers which means Adobe can't sit back and rest on its laurels.

Ironically, if Adobe *had* offered a perpetual license option then the fissure in Adobe's base wouldn't have happened and the odds of a true competitor showing up would be slim to none.


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Chris Pettit
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 20, 2015 at 7:13:15 pm

[Andrew Kimery] "Ironically, if Adobe *had* offered a perpetual license option then the fissure in Adobe's base wouldn't have happened and the odds of a true competitor showing up would be slim to none."

Yeah, probably. I certainly wouldn't be looking this hard for alternatives if Adobe hadn't gone this route. And wait until Affinity rolls out PC versions of their photo and designer apps. Could a motion graphics option eventually be an offering from them? And would they even bother if there wasn't a schism over subscriptions?

That said, the speed issue (AE) would have got me there eventually anyway. I'm surprised we haven't seen more improvements to AE in this regard, but my understanding is it would require a complete overhaul of the app(thats what I'm told anyway)


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 20, 2015 at 7:56:55 pm
Last Edited By Andrew Kimery on Apr 20, 2015 at 7:58:05 pm

[Chris Pettit] "That said, the speed issue (AE) would have got me there eventually anyway. I'm surprised we haven't seen more improvements to AE in this regard, but my understanding is it would require a complete overhaul of the app(thats what I'm told anyway)
"


Have you heard that the upcoming version of AE is much faster ? Based on the user response to Steve Ford's blog post last year the AE team spent the majority 2014 making AE faster. I also heard that this is phase one of a three phrase plan to improve AE's speed and responsiveness.


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Chris Pettit
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 20, 2015 at 8:08:33 pm

Well aware of what they've said. But when I talked to them at NAB about speed, and specifically GPU acceleration, I was told, among other things that it's hard to keep track of all the GPU cards. Premiere is accelerated, but as I understand it, AE is not, and they have no immediate plans to make it so. Have I misunderstood? Is AE capable of GPU rendering and acceleration like Premiere? My hardware people tell me that AE is behind, and that the speed increases seen so far are incremental. Is this not true?


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Walter Soyka
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 20, 2015 at 9:23:50 pm

[Chris Pettit] "But when I talked to them at NAB about speed, and specifically GPU acceleration, I was told, among other things that it's hard to keep track of all the GPU cards. Premiere is accelerated, but as I understand it, AE is not, and they have no immediate plans to make it so. Have I misunderstood? Is AE capable of GPU rendering and acceleration like Premiere? My hardware people tell me that AE is behind, and that the speed increases seen so far are incremental. Is this not true?"

GPU acceleration is not the only way to make Ae faster. There is a lot of CPU performance left untapped by the current release of After Effects.

GPU acceleration is also not a silver bullet. I know that any client request that starts with "Can't you just..." is an indication of an incoming unrealistic request. For us to say "Can't you just accelerate this on the GPU?" to the Ae team is no different. Certainly there may be good reasons to move to GPU acceleration, but there are also good reasons to stay on the CPU.

The current version of Ae is very inefficient because everything -- the entire UI and render pipeline -- happens within a single process. Ae's multiprocessing feature was an attempt to try to squeeze more performance out of an old architecture that was never designed with any awareness of the multiple CPUs that dominate computing (and even cell phones!) today.

The next version of Ae will separate the rendering from the UI. This is not the whole answer, but it's a very significant step.

I'd point you to this blog post:
http://blogs.adobe.com/aftereffects/2015/04/after-effects-cc-spring-2015-up...


And this remark specifically:

"When we asked you, our customers, a year ago what you’d like us to focus on in After Effects, the response was enthusiastic and nearly unanimous: You wanted us to focus on making After Effects respond more quickly and smoothly as you carried out your creative work. We listened. The great majority of the After Effects team has been hard at work for the past year on a fundamental re-architecture of the application that lays the groundwork for performance improvements of many kinds, and this major update that we will be releasing soon bears the first fruits of this effort." (emphasis mine)


Ae's a 20+ year-old application, and a lot of the original architecture design considerations are no longer appropriate. The next release is a major re-architecture that's more in line with the way computers work today, but -- and as far as I'm concerned, this is the best part -- it's still Ae, just modernized.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Chris Pettit
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 20, 2015 at 9:43:46 pm

[Walter Soyka] "GPU acceleration is not the only way to make Ae faster. There is a lot of CPU performance left untapped by the current release of After Effects."

Yeah, but the problem is the whole world is heading towards GPU rendering (or at least thats the theory). The future of 3D rendering is GPU at this point I belive. I resisted Octane for C4d for 2 years because I wasn't convinced that it was worth the workflow changes and was worried it was just flavor of the month instead a real change to how things get done. But now its impossible to avoid.

As a result, my new machines are likely to have a lot more resources put into Titan X cards then in more and more CPU threads. Not to say I'm going back to an i7, but I need to know the software is in sync with what my hardware consultants say it should be.

[Walter Soyka] "The current version of Ae is very inefficient because everything -- the entire UI and render pipeline -- happens within a single process. Ae's multiprocessing feature was an attempt to try to squeeze more performance out of an old architecture that was never designed with any awareness of the multiple CPUs that dominate computing (and even cell phones!) today."

Same thing I've heard from other people. Unless I'm mistaken you're saying the same type of things.

Thats the whole point, you guys seem to be trusting that this will get fixed, but it hasn't happened yet. In the meantime, because of subscriptions I'm moving on anyway...


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Walter Soyka
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 20, 2015 at 10:08:47 pm

[Chris Pettit] "Yeah, but the problem is the whole world is heading towards GPU rendering (or at least thats the theory). The future of 3D rendering is GPU at this point I belive."

Not the whole world. Processing on the GPU is an aberration in compositing. 3D rendering offers a very different set of computational problems than compositing does. Not every problem has a good massively parallel solution that's suitable for GPGPU.

I'd love to have faster rendering, too, but I don't care how they do it as long as it gets done. In the meantime, the Ae design workflow is still the fastest for me, even with today's inefficient renderer.

And as it stands today, any effect is free to use the GPU. Even if Ae were to go to the GPU someday for core compositing, separating rendering from the UI as they are now would still be the first step.


[Chris Pettit] "Same thing I've heard from other people. Unless I'm mistaken you're saying the same type of things. Thats the whole point, you guys seem to be trusting that this will get fixed, but it hasn't happened yet. In the meantime, because of subscriptions I'm moving on anyway..."

It is happening now.

I do also trust that the Ae team is doing what they've said they'd do, and I while I hesitate to rehash this argument, I do think that a performance-focused release is easier on subscription than as a paid upgrade.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Chris Pettit
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 20, 2015 at 10:44:50 pm
Last Edited By Chris Pettit on Apr 21, 2015 at 1:34:50 am

[Walter Soyka] "I do also trust that the Ae team is doing what they've said they'd do, and I while I hesitate to rehash this argument, I do think that a performance-focused release is easier on subscription than as a paid upgrade."

I didn't mean to imply otherwise regarding the AE team. I know they're working on it, and doing everything they can. (My only question is whether Adobe management is limiting development resources for money reasons, but thats another discussion)

But just like our conversations regarding cloud services that don't yet exist, it is ,at the moment, faith based. When there are demonstrative and bench-tested speed increases, then the discussion will change. At the moment what they're saying is: "preview can now continue as you make changes that modify the item being previewed". OK, cool, but NOT what I'm talking about. Nowhere near.

I'm seeing render time efficiencies in the order of 10X by switching to Octane in C4d, and thats with a moderate investment in a couple of GTX980 cards. Its real messy, there are serious road-blocks, some that I've hit at 100MPH like the lack of texture stacking, but these are the kind of advancements in render speeds that I need. When an AE release boasts these kind of improvements, then people like me are going to have trouble arguing that its smarter to go with someone else.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 21, 2015 at 6:45:37 pm

Ah, I understand. Yes, I do have faith that Adobe is headed in a good direction for my business.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Walter Soyka
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 15, 2015 at 4:37:30 pm

Chris, I'm glad you found something you like. I started learning Fusion, too, last year (right before Eyeon sold to BMD). I see Fusion and Ae as complementary more than competitive, but I am very much looking forward to hearing about your experiences.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Chris Pettit
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 15, 2015 at 6:18:59 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Chris, I'm glad you found something you like. I started learning Fusion, too, last year (right before Eyeon sold to BMD). I see Fusion and Ae as complementary more than competitive, but I am very much looking forward to hearing about your experiences."

Thanks Walter, a lot to learn, and there will be a lot of pain while migrating over. And I may hit a roadblock or 2 that will force me backwards. We'll see.

The only problem I have is I have 4 long formats projects now already in the AE space, so the learning has to happen extra-curricular until I can find a break long enough to migrate over.

Its the same challenge I'm having now regarding Octane for C4D. I started a recent project convinced that Octane would get it done, only to discover half way through that it wont stack textures yet. So I had to go back to the native C4D render, right in the middle of a deadline. Knowing the limitations is everything, and in my experience you can't know them until you pull the switch and try,

I'm sure there will be similar moments with Fusion, but I really feel like I have an alternative now.


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Chris Pettit
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 15, 2015 at 6:29:24 pm
Last Edited By Chris Pettit on Apr 15, 2015 at 6:29:49 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Chris, I'm glad you found something you like. I started learning Fusion, too, last year (right before Eyeon sold to BMD). I see Fusion and Ae as complementary more than competitive, but I am very much looking forward to hearing about your experiences."

BTW if you had time at some point, could we talk about what your experiences have been?


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Walter Soyka
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 20, 2015 at 1:14:41 pm

[Chris Pettit] "BTW if you had time at some point, could we talk about what your experiences have been?"

I had hoped to learn from you! I was using Fusion a bit last summer, but I've barely touched it in the last few months; Adobe's design tools and workflow make Ae my first choice for most projects.

I was looking to Fusion for the things that are "easy" there -- particles, volumetric/atmospheric effects, fast 3D. But the fact that it's really shot-based, is a workflow island (for me, at least), and has a small base of knowledgeable freelancers have made integrating it into my studio more cost than benefit so far.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Chris Pettit
Re: Fusion 8 NAB
on Apr 20, 2015 at 7:15:10 pm

[Walter Soyka] "But the fact that it's really shot-based, is a workflow island (for me, at least), and has a small base of knowledgeable freelancers have made integrating it into my studio more cost than benefit so far."

OK, as I move forward I'll let you know what I discover


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