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View Full Version : Suggestions On Compositing Software To Use Along Side Lightwave



finenance
03-19-2007, 03:18 PM
Hey guys I saved some money and im looking for any suggestions on a good composting software. Please tell me what you use or what do you think is good. I would be using the software package on a Mac of course.

Sekhar
03-19-2007, 03:30 PM
Adobe After Effects is a great one. Get the Pro version if you can.

archiea
03-19-2007, 03:51 PM
Get Shake. Its cheaper, it supports float quite easily, and its cheap, and its great for assembling mulitple CG passes, and its cheap, and it runs on a mac... and its cheap... and most important, is that it comes in a kewl black box with a chrome apple logo.


http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/6104000/wo/UX2efeOKwQNZ2btjJS419l3yDQd/2.0.21.1.0.8.12


If you are a student you can get it for like $250.00...

MysteryMonkey
03-19-2007, 09:09 PM
[QUOTE=. . . . im looking for any suggestions on a good composting software. . . . [/QUOTE]

I like Final Cut Express for the money.

http://www.apple.com/finalcutexpress/

Final Cut Express HD. Just $299 or Educational $149

Along with powerful DV editing tools, Final Cut Express HD offers high-definition video capability to beginners and advanced editors alike. When I got it last year at the educational price it came with full versions of LiveType and Soundtrack. They will let you create animated graphics, text effects and custom soundtracks. I assume they are still packaged that way. Sound track is fun to play with all on its own.

mlinde
03-19-2007, 09:21 PM
If you are JUST doing compositing, and you don't need a motion graphics app (because you already own something like Motion or After Effects) Shake is a great choice. You should also look at Combustion. But if you need a broader tool than JUST a compositor, AE is the way to go.

Darth Mole
03-20-2007, 02:18 AM
AE's learning curve isn't too harsh (I've not used Shake but it looks scary). AE interacts nicely with Photoshop and Illustrator and has a wealth of cool plug-ins and training material. My only issue with Shake is where it's going next now it's been end-of-lifed by Apple.

jeremyhardin
03-20-2007, 09:23 AM
Shake is the cheapest pro compositor and by far the best, IMHO. I use it on everything from freelance gigs to films. Fast turnaround and slow. Working in anything else now just feels like sitting on my mouse hand for a few hours and tieing the other behind my back. Pointlessly slower and encumbered.

Of note, Final Cut Express is not a compositor...it's a video editor. If you want a video editor...don't get shake over Final Cut Express. But by all means...if you want a compositor, get shake over FCE any day.

dsol
03-20-2007, 09:53 AM
I use both, having bought Shake and After Effects (pro). Shake is certainly very powerful, but I do frequently find it a bit of a pain in the buttocks to use. Maybe I'm just not as used to using it as AE, which seems to me to be far simpler to understand and work with. AE has far better timeline and animation tools than shake from what I've seen. Plus it has the added bonus of similar colour correction tools to Photoshop, which a lot of people are familiar with. It might be irrelevant to some people too, but the After Effects (7) interface is really nice and a genuine boost to productivity. The Shake interface is functional, but a bit clunky and dated. It doesn't even support scrollwheels on mice which is surprisingly irritating!

For high-end compositing, Shake is great (good roto tools, excellent fine-grained support for keying/generating mattes), but I use AE 99% of the time personally. The pro version comes with a really good set of 3rd Party plugins too - Cycore, Synthetic Aperture (Color Finesse is an awesome colour correction tool) - I heartily recommend it over the standard edition. Plus the motion tracking ain't half bad. Not quite as good as Shake (but then again, shake's tracker is inferior to Combustion's).

Actually, Combustion isn't a bad bet either - it's kind of a halfway house between Shake and AE. It's really quite good. It's got a really nice particle generator too (AE's built-in one is pretty slow and basic, and Shake doesn't even have one).

Another major reason for using AE though is the 3rd party plugin support. The Trapcode plugins for example are amazing. Particular rocks! I think combustion supports AE plugins too - though they may not behave as well (or at all) in another app

dsol
03-20-2007, 09:59 AM
And just to overload everyone with options...

Motion - from FCP Studio - is interesting. Particularly when you use it with Conduit (a realtime node-based editor)

FCP studio is cheaper than AE pro, and you get Motion, FCP, Soundtrack Pro and DVD Studio. Not too shabby. Though I must admit I just don't "get" Motion. I find it an odd app and have barely used it (I bought FCP studio for Final Cut & DVDSP)

finenance
03-20-2007, 10:02 AM
Well actually Im looking to do some compositing and video editing. Im working on my first 3D animation short. And I want to take all my 3d renders and put them all together. As far as my sound I use my favorite Music software DP5/ motu Digital Performer 5 for all my scoring and voicing. Im just looking for advice on something that can handle this work load. Final Cut Pro is defenitly out of my price range.

Thanks for your advice so guys, keep them coming I am in no rush Im still rendering.

Tom Wood
03-20-2007, 10:15 AM
I actually use Mirage as a compositor but my needs are different than most. I work with very short (six seconds) segments with lots of repetitive tasks. Mirage is a bit-mapped video paint program that comes with a powerful FX stack that saves sets of tasks, a reasonable particle generator, and a hook that puts it in the Switcher for VT4, which I use for editing. I render uncompressed .TGA image sequences from LightWave, then uncompressed .RTV animations from Mirage for use in VT4.

dsol
03-20-2007, 10:15 AM
Another consideration is that AE & Combustion currently are not universal binaries. Shake, FCP & Motion are.

Damn, I hope Adobe pull their fingers out and get a UB of After Effects soon. Right now, I'll be stuffed if my G5 Quad blows up and I have to replace it with an IntelMac :(

finenance
03-20-2007, 10:22 AM
But it does look like im stuck in between Shake in AE, downloading the demos now

finenance
03-20-2007, 10:29 AM
I actually use Mirage as a compositor but my needs are different than most. I work with very short (six seconds) segments with lots of repetitive tasks. Mirage is a bit-mapped video paint program that comes with a powerful FX stack that saves sets of tasks, a reasonable particle generator, and a hook that puts it in the Switcher for VT4, which I use for editing. I render uncompressed .TGA image sequences from LightWave, then uncompressed .RTV animations from Mirage for use in VT4.


I actually owned Mirage at one point in my earlier experiences and was a little affraid of it. Maybe because I was a newbie at the time. I got fustrated and sold it. But Im a little patient now.

Tom Wood
03-20-2007, 10:44 AM
I actually owned Mirage at one point in my earlier experiences and was a little affraid of it. Maybe because I was a newbie at the time. I got fustrated and sold it. But Im a little patient now.

Heh, I know the feeling. It was -not- making any sense to me until I finally grokked the video -paint- concept. "Process these images this way and then put them HERE." Being very specific about the HERE part in terms of the video frames involved.

jeremyhardin
03-20-2007, 11:02 AM
Heh, I know the feeling. It was -not- making any sense to me until I finally grokked the video -paint- concept. "Process these images this way and then put them HERE." Being very specific about the HERE part in terms of the video frames involved.

Shake is really the evolution of that concept. (And it includes paint tools with animateable stokes). :D And the scroll wheel does indeed work in shake. It's just the Mighty Mouse scroll ball that doesn't work. I've used a microsoft USB 3 button just fine and scrolled, and a wacom tablet/mouse scroll wheel.

As to AE vs. Shake, I'll not say that Shake is easier to learn. But I will say it's a more powerful tool by far. Just the simple fact that you can't mask a filter or effect in AE is a deal-breaker for me. You actually have to apply a mask or filter to an entire layer, then mask the layer? That's just sad. And as a result you end up with 5 times as many layers as you should have, each with too many filters and effects, and 5 times longer render time than you need and should have.
And I actually prefer Shake's animation to AE's. I started out on AE and worked in it for years before using Combustion, then Fusion, and now Shake. I'll never go back.
The fact that I've just written a macro that allows me to have a distant light...right in shake...is a testament to it's power. Not to mention you can actually UV map (http://www.digitalartform.com/archives/2005/07/uv_map_now_or_u.html) right in Shake.

Premultiplication of renders isn't an issue in Shake (unlike every other compositor). Data isn't destroyed and thrown away in shake (unlike AE and most other compositors). Expressions are as simple as typing right in the numeric entry. If I want "A" to follow "B" parameter, then I type "B" right in "A"'s number entry. Bingo. Following set up. And I can turn on enhanced node view to see all those expression dependencies. I can also create custom parameters ("C" for example) that can then drive "A" and "B" with expressions. So if I've got 5 blur nodes on 5 different pieces of footage that are always the same, I can just create an empty node, give it a custom parameter called "5_Blurs", and have all the other blur parameters follow this one. You just can't do that type of thing in AE.

You can also attach mask points to trackers on footage and have the masks intelligently redraw themselves on every frame. That alone would have saved me hours of masking of moving people I had to do on thousands of frames a few years ago. And Shake is also the only compositing app in my knowlege to have a professional re-timer built right in (way better than AE's frame-blend retimer) AND 2 professional Keyers. Plus math nodes so you can write your own filters right in the text fields. I've already written improved zDepth compositors and Difference Keyers. Just simple if-then statements really. Yet another thing not possible in AE.

Did I mention that in AE, there's no one color corrector? So to color correct extensively, you end up needing 2 or 3 filters. A bit inefficient.

But I could go on and on (as indeed I have). For easy, sure. Use AE. It's photoshop on wheels. But for power and efficiency...use Shake. And once you get it's mindset, you end up doing things in 1 step that took you 5 in AE.

mlinde
03-20-2007, 07:39 PM
I'll chime in again - it depends on what you are doing. If you are doing raw compositing (which doesn't require a timeline, and could be hindered by a timeline-based system), Shake or Combustion, hands down. If you are composing pre-existing footage and files and music, and motion graphics, you need a timeline based editing system, like after effects (or FCP) –*based on what you are saying, you need a timeline based system like FCP or AE, not a nodal system like Shake.

As for the comment about Shake's EOL - the core application hasn't changed significantly in a few years, and would be used and useful in it's niche, as is, for a long time, due to the robust nature of the tool. A nodal compositor isn't something where you discover a "latest and greatest" need very often that isn't already handled in some way.

avkills
03-20-2007, 09:32 PM
Can't AE do all those linking things you've explained Jeremy by using Expressions and parenting?

Regardless I am real tempted to get Shake before it poofs away. I'd like to start fooling around with OpenEXR and my ancient version of AE just can't do it.

-mark

jeremyhardin
03-21-2007, 01:02 AM
Can't AE do all those linking things you've explained Jeremy by using Expressions and parenting?

Regardless I am real tempted to get Shake before it poofs away. I'd like to start fooling around with OpenEXR and my ancient version of AE just can't do it.

-mark
Not all, but some yes. But this video (http://forums.creativecow.net/articles/rabinowitz_aharon/Expression_Controls_Pt1/Tutorial/index.htm) shows the workflow for using expressions in AE. About as intuitive as building a car from scratch.
In shake, you can use expressions easily without even knowing what an expression is. :D This is a perfect example of why I said that working in anything else now just feels like sitting on my mouse hand for a few hours and tieing the other behind my back. I can do a lot of the same stuff in AE and other packages...but it's pointlessly slower and encumbered.

avkills
03-21-2007, 02:45 AM
Not all, but some yes. But this video (http://forums.creativecow.net/articles/rabinowitz_aharon/Expression_Controls_Pt1/Tutorial/index.htm) shows the workflow for using expressions in AE. About as intuitive as building a car from scratch.

Yeah I know that is true! I never ever use them because you almost need a degree in who knows what to make any sense of the way it works.

Motion is interesting, but I really don't care for the way it wants you to move stuff around. Motion would really be awesome if they just made it keyframe based from the start. Oh well. I find myself exporting stuff from Livetype and Motion with alpha channels and comping in AE.

-mark

Sarford
03-21-2007, 07:32 AM
Well, here are my 2c.

I've never used AE so I can't speek of that, but I do work with shake and I must say it's one of the most easy packages I've used ever. Once you understand nodes (wich was pretty fast for me), you understand that practicaly anything you want can be done quite easy.

One other great thing of shake is that you can build several node trees in one script (or project). You can even have multiple outputs and multiple formats from one tree. I don't know if AE can do this as well.
Simple editing is also quite easy but I wouldn't advise to use shake for editing.

dsol
03-21-2007, 09:01 AM
Once you understand nodes (wich was pretty fast for me), you understand that practicaly anything you want can be done quite easy.

The layering approach of AE is definitely easier to understand for Photoshop veterans. I've seen a Shake node script which emulates PS layering with blending modes too. But AE's layer and timeline display remains far superior in my eyes.


One other great thing of shake is that you can build several node trees in one script (or project). You can even have multiple outputs and multiple formats from one tree. I don't know if AE can do this as well.

AE can output rendered frames to multiple formats simultaneously from one project. You can add any number of output modules to items in the render queue (though most AE users I've met don't seem to know about this!)


Simple editing is also quite easy but I wouldn't advise to use shake for editing.

I wouldn't really recommend using AE to edit either, but I have done it in the past - and it is possible (thanks to it's excellent timeline display and controls). I don't think it's really feasible to do so in Shake though, but would love to be proven wrong! FCP can export edits as Shake scripts, so perhaps Apple didn't see any advantage in pushing Shake for editing :)
Combustion has edit operators, which are pretty useful for long-ish projects.

finenance
03-21-2007, 09:58 AM
Well last night I download Shake and AE demo fooled around about 40 minutes on each application. I started out with AE and picked up on it right away because of the relation with photoshop. After I installed Shake demo, and for some reason I had no clue where to begin, but 15 minutes in I started to really get into it, I really like the nodes. 30 minutes in the application just seem a little more user friendly than AE. Im kinda feeling Shake it seems like im headed in that direction. I still will fool around with AE and give a shot.

Maybe a combo of Shake and Final Cut Hd Express will do me justice.:thumbsup:

jeremyhardin
03-22-2007, 04:44 AM
of note to you shake owners, I've been toying with UB LW and Shake's commandline to integrate the two. I have a working render viewer Lscript that takes an F9 and opens a standalone shake viewer for viewing renders. I like it much better than image viewer. a is to view the alpha, c is to view the color, r,g, and b are to view the red, green, and blue, l is to view the luminance. Middle-click to drag the image around in the viewer window. And clicking anywhere in the image still gives you the RGBA value for that pixel.

PM me if you guys have shake and UB LW handy and I'll send it your way.