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11 Posts
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Registered: ‎08-22-2006

Flame in the Future...

187 Views, 5 Replies
12-22-2012 09:41 AM
Hello all- I've been using Flame on and off for more than 10 years, and have always been a bit frustrated with how Autodesk "thinks" about how compositors work.

I'm a big fan of the new 20th Anniversary edition - while the new UI might be a bit confusing, and the keyboard shortcuts have become very "Mac" like - I'm glad to see all the excellent conform and editing tools finally available with the brilliant Reels and Batch environment - a true merge of Smoke and Flame!

I'm also a long time Nuke user - and frankly, I find the actual COMPOSITING environment in Nuke much more conducive to working on VFX shots. Nuke is completely lacking an integrated contextual timeline and editing environment, as well as a robust video I/O system - it's VERY much designed for working on a single shot or element of a sequence, and can't be easily set up to send playback to an external monitor for client presentation / revision. But all that being said - when I'm working on a shot in Nuke, EVERY element and process that goes into that shot is available to me in the node tree - nothing is "hidden" inside of an Action node, or pre-rendered/comped with a Desktop tool.

Since Batch is now so "immediate" in Flame 2013/20 and CFX existing in Smoke For Mac 2013 (SMAC 2013) - I've been wondering- do we really need Action anymore?

It's a radical concept- Action is the CORE compositing "system" of Flame and Smoke - it's where everything actually happens! I've always seen Batch as more of an image processing environment to feed into Action, or process Action outputs. I've just always been frustrated with the fact that as I work, I'm constantly bouncing between Batch's Schematic, several different Action schematics, perhaps an MK schematic here and there- at least three different "worlds" of node views. But what if all of the functionality of Action was "pulled out" into Batch nodes? You could add Camera, Axis and perhaps "Layer" nodes to Batch (along with all the other Action nodes- lights, particles, surfaces, etc.).

Yes- there would have to be a pretty considerable UI overhaul to handle all the new nodes with their attendant UIs - and I'm sure many Flame ops would be hesitate to tackle such a radical shift in usability - and I won't even begin to assume that this is a "trivial" coding exercise!

I do believe that this would make for a VERY powerful, competitive compositing tool. I have yet to find another VFX tool that combines editing, video I/O, versioning, AND compositing like Flame. But it DOES seem hobbled by a UI and workflow that doesn't fit in today's pipelines. Nuke has rapidly expanded from being a premiere feature film compositing tool into a tool being used by several facilities on commercials and other projects (my company has several licenses of Nuke along with our Autodesk products...) - it would great to see Flame have a radical evolution and compete with the "new guys"!

Comments? I'm fascinated to hear the reactions of this idea from the community!
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Registered: ‎04-27-2009

Re: Flame in the Future...

12-22-2012 12:43 PM in reply to: vfxjokir
Well, we just saw the new evolution. Maybe on the 30th aniversary? I think Nuke + Smoke on Mac its a great combination. For less than 10k!
Smoke 2013 Ext1 SP1
17" Mac Book Pro
OS X 10.9.2
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Registered: ‎03-08-2011

Re: Flame in the Future...

12-23-2012 05:17 AM in reply to: vfxjokir
I suggested the same thing earlier this year. All that's needed is axis nodes and a couple of comp nodes - a layers node for simple a ove b 2d stuff and a 3dcomp node to be what zdth and camera that action offers.

Doubt we'll see it soon though.
All's well that ends. That's why its called finishing.
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Registered: ‎04-19-2008

Re: Flame in the Future...

12-27-2012 01:21 PM in reply to: vfxjokir
While I've got no objection to having cameras outside of Action, I don't see much of a bonus to them.

Action's's a nice way to keep things organized. It allows you to re-order layer stacks quickly. It's either that or a huge chain of Logic Ops. Then there's the ability to concatenate transformations, something Nuke presents as a feature; Flame's been doing it for around 20 years now. Instancing: also damn sweet. Bicubics, Projectors and Camera displacements... In a way you are right: with so many great tools in Action, the rest of Batch can be thought of as a prep area.

I'd argue Action is the key reason flame can stay relevant despite Nuke's huge composting land grab.
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Registered: ‎11-19-2011

Re: Flame in the Future...

12-27-2012 11:43 PM in reply to: vfxjokir
For me the great thing about flame are powerful nodes like action and the MK. It keeps the process tree clean and organised.
It doesn't make any sense to put a camera or an axis in a process tree. In nuke everything is mixed and for me that's just a big mess.
To do the same comp in Nuke instead of Flame means 2 times as much nodes. That makes Nuke very complicated and you always end up with a huge tree that is hard to work on and even harder to share with other people. Especially if you're sitting with clients right next to you.
Nukes scanline renderer makes it impossible to shuttle through your comp to get a rough idea about your animations.

You don't have to use action if you don't want to. You can make your comp "Nuke style" with lots of 2d transforms and LogicOps. Everything that is inside the MK is also available in batch.

I think the only real advantage of Nuke over Flame is the price.

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Registered: ‎03-08-2011

Re: Flame in the Future...

12-28-2012 08:06 AM in reply to: andy__dill
Yes for the existing user base... Having said that I can't think of one nuke guy coming the reverse direction so I guess no need to change!
Concatenation only became a big deal because Ron made a fuss about it in his file format book which made shake people aware of it...
All's well that ends. That's why its called finishing.