After Effects vs Autodesk Smoke
by Martin Thygesen on Aug 18, 2011 at 11:44:53 am
So my boss said he heard someone saying that the colors and the way that smoke treats images results in 10 - 15 % better images, how can i dispute that in the most "professional" manner, without just getting angry ?
Re: After Effects vs Autodesk Smoke by Walter Soyka on Aug 18, 2011 at 2:40:21 pm
[Martin Thygesen]"So my boss said he heard someone saying that the colors and the way that smoke treats images results in 10 - 15 % better images, how can i dispute that in the most "professional" manner, without just getting angry ?"
That's a very strange claim to make. It doesn't make any sense.
First, Smoke and AE aren't really comparable -- this is the old apples-and-oranges cliché. Smoke is a finishing system: an NLE with compositing, tracking, keying, coloring, paint, and graphics tools. AE is a motion graphics and compositing system, with no NLE or conform tools. There are many things that Smoke will do faster or easier than a combination of AE/FCP (or AE/PrP, or AE/Avid), but with AE's huge third-party developer ecosystem, there are many things AE can do that Smoke can't do as easily, or some cases, can't do at all.
With that out of the way, we can talk about image processing.
Smoke's image processing is very high quality, and it's fast.
AE's image processing is very high quality, too, though, and its performance scales with hardware capability. Both AE and Smoke process natively in RGB (which many somewhat nonsensically call 4:4:4). Both can process floating-point images (32 bpc in AE, 16-bit fp or "half float" in Smoke).
The notion that Smoke's images are 10-15% better than AE's suggests that either Smoke is automatically improving the images, or AE is degrading them. Neither claim is true. Both applications leave control over the image in the hands of operator, so the final quality is dependent on you and your knowledge, skills, and available time.
I'd argue that Smoke's long-standing reputation for image quality comes from the fact that it was always intended for online work and has always used an uncompressed RGB framestore, whereas other NLEs have historically been used for offline work with compressed media.
Even if the 10-15% claim were true, with color management in AE, you can see exactly what you will get on screen (subject to the limits of your display and output format). If you need it 10-15% "better" (whatever that means), you can make it better and accurately monitor what you will get.
I don't say any of this to tear down Autodesk. I've been learning Smoke, and it's a really impressive application. If I do ultimately invest in it, it will replace some of my AE use, but certainly not all, and probably not even most. I see Smoke and AE much more as complimentary systems, not competitive ones.
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