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ConnectFX the winner already for Smoke 2013?

With the imminent release of the beta trial of Autodesk Smoke for Mac 2013, one particular feature of the revamped Smoke editing and effects application is already receiving a  lot of the attention.

Is it the redesigned editing interface, that at first glance will enable editors to get down to work straight away? …No.

While this is a welcome edition to new users of Smoke, this is hardly ground breaking technology.  Autodesk have changed the timeline interface of smoke to match that of more industry standard NLE applications such as Final Cut Pro 7.  The timeline is something that does not need to be reinvented.  Of the main professional NLE applications, they all work on a very similar track based style.  In making this change, Autodesk have perhaps conceded that legacy versions of smoke was difficult for new users to master.

Autodesk Smoke 2013 - Redesigned Editing Interface

This change in itself will lead to many more users taking a look at Smoke 2013 to see if it suits their production workflow.

When the Smoke 2013 trial download arrives, editors will be able to download the software and start editing straight away.  That is something that just didn’t happen with legacy versions of Smoke for Mac.  It would be common for people to download the software, have a play with the built in tutorial media….and then find that they never returned to it again as it was either to confusing or different to what you would expect from an editing application.

The one area where Autodesk Smoke 2013 will outshine all it’s competitors is with the introduction of what it calls “ConnectFX”.

The underlying technology behind ConnectFX is not new.  This is the “Batch” compositing technology that has been available on Autodesk’s higher-end finishing systems like Flame and Smoke Advanced.

What is different with the technology is how it is entirely integrated within the timeline environment.  You can apply effects to your clips  in smoke just as easily as you would with any other NLE.  When you have multiple effects applied to a clip you can tell Smoke to “create Connect FX” which will automatically build the node based compositing environment with all the effect nodes that you applied to the clip.  The power of node based compositing is being able to quickly re-order the effect processes by simply dragging them to a new part of the compositing pipeline.

This may not sound ground-breaking, but this is where the technology opens itself up to a completely new segment of users. As an editor you may have previously sat in on a Flame session and seen the Flame artist building a complicated node tree of effects.  Many flame / smoke artists have been using the systems for years and still feel like they are only using a small fraction of the creative toolset.

Autodesk Smoke 2013 - Smoke Compositing EnvironmentPreviously you would have to build your node based composite from a blank canvas, and you would generally need some sort of idea of what you wanted achieve as you went about building your effect.

With ConnectFX, Autodesk now puts it’s powerful effect toolset in the hands of many more users.  Perhaps people who mainly would have done editorial work now have the ability to easily integrate advanced color correction and effects directly into the timeline for the very first time.

No handing off to another department, No out-sourcing of VFX shots.  The whole edit started and finished within the one application.

ConnectFX …Will it be Autodesk’s master stroke in the domination of the editing and effects market?

 

IMAGE CREDITS: Autodesk

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