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After Effects feature parity with Combustion

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Alan Okey
After Effects feature parity with Combustion
on Oct 22, 2009 at 9:33:26 pm

Some background: I've used Combustion (Mac version) for my compositing and visual effects needs for the past several years. When I first got into compositing, I chose Combustion over AE because I found Combustion's user interface and paint/roto tools to be far superior. Unfortunately, Autodesk stopped any real development on Combustion almost two years ago in order to focus on Toxik, which has recently become Maya Composite. Autodesk released Combustion 2008 at the beginning of 2008, but it was never certified to run on anything newer than Mac OS X v10.4 (Tiger). Combustion won't run properly on Leopard or Snow Leopard, and it looks increasingly like it's a dead product. I'm looking into switching to After Effects because it's supported on modern operating systems and appears to have a solid future ahead of it.

I have some questions regarding AE's capabilities. There are some features that I've become accustomed to having in Combustion that I fear I might have to live without in AE. Are these features available in AE either natively or with bundled plugins?

1. Interactive schematic (node) view - not just viewing, but building/connecting permitted. I already own dvGarage's Conduit Suite, so this may be a non-issue.

2. Simultaneous tracking of individual mask vertex points

3. Per-vertex mask feathering adjustment ("splines" mode in C*)

4. B-spline mask tools (not just Bezier)

5. 3D compositing environment with multiple lights/shadows

6. Vector paint tools

7. Warping/morphing

8. 10-bit color depth at the comp level

9. 3:2 pulldown removal/addition of imported footage within a comp

10. Live frame buffer preview to broadcast monitor via video I/O hardware (I use the AJA Kona LHe)


I'd also be interested in hearing what capabilities AE has that Combustion does not. The ones I'm aware of include:

1. Better support/integration of Adobe vector file formats

2. Broader plugin support

3. Gamma shift issue fixed when converting YUV Quicktime files to RGB color space (supposedly)

4. 64-bit version in next release


Any other opinions about what AE does better or worse than Combustion are welcome. Since it looks like AE is going to be my best option in the future, I'd like to know what I'm in for and how to address any potential shortcomings.

Thanks in advance.


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Todd Kopriva
Re: After Effects feature parity with Combustion
on Oct 23, 2009 at 4:00:04 pm

I'll try to get back to this thread and answer in more detail when I have time, but in the meantime I suggest that you try searching within After Effects Community Help for some of the key terms that you're curious about.

For example, this After Effects Community Help search for 'paint tools' brings up a page that says that "In After Effects, paint strokes are vector objects...", answering your question about vector paint tools. Or this After Effects Community Help search for 'pulldown removal' that indicates that, yes, 3:2 pulldown removal is a feature in After Effects.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
putting the 'T' back in 'RTFM' : After Effects Help on the Web
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If a page of After Effects Help answers your question, please consider rating it. If you have a tip, technique, or link to share---or if there is something that you'd like to see added or improved---please leave a comment.


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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Re: After Effects feature parity with Combustion
on Oct 24, 2009 at 10:28:09 am

[Alan Okey] "1. Interactive schematic (node) view - not just viewing, but building/connecting permitted. I already own dvGarage's Conduit Suite, so this may be a non-issue.

Conduit is the way to go.

2. Simultaneous tracking of individual mask vertex points

Checkout Matthias Mohl's TrackerViz and other mask/tracker related scripts.

3. Per-vertex mask feathering adjustment ("splines" mode in C*)

With RevisionFX PVFeather plugin. With Mocha AE.

4. B-spline mask tools (not just Bezier)

Mocha AE - bundled with CS4.

5. 3D compositing environment with multiple lights/shadows

Yes.

6. Vector paint tools

Yes but clunky.

7. Warping/morphing

Yes but not as intuitive as you would want. RevisionFX has a morphing plugin.

8. 10-bit color depth at the comp level

Yes. 8, 16 and 32 actually for your project/comps. Depending on your output format you get 8 or 10bit output.

9. 3:2 pulldown removal/addition of imported footage within a comp

Yes.


10. Live frame buffer preview to broadcast monitor via video I/O hardware (I use the AJA Kona LHe)

Yes but best to check with hardware manufacturers and your OS for compatibility.

I'd also be interested in hearing what capabilities AE has that Combustion does not. The ones I'm aware of include:

1. Better support/integration of Adobe vector file formats
2. Broader plugin support
3. Gamma shift issue fixed when converting YUV Quicktime files to RGB color space (supposedly)
4. 64-bit version in next release"

All good except for 3. There are stilll issues that even color management can't help. The video architecture (QT for example) and the CODEC used plus i/o cards all help to make this a mess. There's nothing like calibrating your monitor and knowing when and how to fix the shifts that occur ever so often.



HTH
RoRK

Sell your AEPs with broadcastGEMs' DVD series of templates. Click here for more


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Alan Okey
Re: After Effects feature parity with Combustion
on Oct 24, 2009 at 9:16:50 pm

Thanks, Roland. That's a great list of answers, very much appreciated.


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