If you are anything like myself, since Autodesk released the news at NAB this year, it has seemed like like a long wait for the pre-release trial of Autodesk Smoke 2013 to land.
Well it’s finally here, and I am sure you were quick off the mark to download the beta when that email finally came through. If you haven’t yet downloaded the beta, head over to the Autodesk website and download it here.
The initial impression the revamped user interface gives me is a sense of familiarity, like I have already sat down and spent some time with it. Having used various versions of Smoke and Flame over the past 10 years or so I guess that’s where some of that feeling comes from.
But a lot of the credit of this familiarity must also go the excellent move on Autodesk’s behalf of releasing a huge amount of learner tutorials over at the Smoke Learning Channel on youtube prior to the release. The amount of effort that has gone into preparing these tutorials has got to be a good indication of how much Autodesk want Smoke 2013 to succeed.
Even the most ardent of Smoke artists from previous versions would have said that the learning curve is somewhat steep. What this new user interface brings is a sense of being able to jump in and get straight to work.
Now don’t get me wrong, Smoke has definitely not been “dumbed down” to target the masses. Yes, the learning curve beyond basic editing and effects is still quite a hill to climb. Therein lies the beauty of this release from Autodesk. It’s powerful toolset has now been made so much more attainable through it’s interface re-design and of course it’s substantial reduction in price.
The vast toolset that Smoke possesses is all still there from previous versions, but now there is a much more user friendly way to integrate your editing, grading and visual effects into your timeline. Connect FX is the new way of accessing your effects from your timeline and visualising it all in a node based compositing environment.
Now a lot of editors that are making the switch from other edit systems, such as FCP 7, will I’m sure be a bit daunted at first when using a node based compositing environment. Well let me tell you, with Connect FX it makes so much easier than it was previously.
So jump in and have a play, as the beta looks set to be available to us for a while to test out. The most important piece of information I can pass on, Autodesk are a company that are listening actively to it’s users. Post your comments on the Creative Cow Smoke forum, and over at the AREA Smoke forum.
Help shape Smoke 2013 into something even more powerful than it already is.