Over my 10-year profession, I’ve labored in two of the main compositing packages within the VFX business: After Results and Nuke.
After Results is the Swiss Military knife of post-production, with a number of features, together with keying, monitoring, compositing, and movement graphics. It’s one of many first instruments I realized due to its low barrier to entry, affordability, and ease of use.
Nuke, alternatively, is extra like a surgeon’s scalpel — a devoted and exact bundle constructed to do one factor: composite. It’s the business normal for good cause, and it’s the software I take advantage of at Vine FX on initiatives starting from Warfare of the Worlds to The Vacationer.
As a result of Nuke is so ubiquitous, it’s vital to know the right way to use it when collaborating with post-production corporations or simply as a result of it provides you such a strong set of instruments for compositing.
Nevertheless, when adopting new software program, you possibly can simply fall into the entice of considering it’s only a case of studying a brand new format.
You then open Nuke for the primary time…
Instantly, you’re greeted with an unfamiliar format. Whereas After Results’ design shouldn’t be dissimilar to an NLE, Nuke begins virtually clean. There are related components, corresponding to a timeline, however importing information is extra sophisticated.
In Nuke, the ‘import media’ tab is known as ‘learn’, which differs enormously from most software program. When you deliver your footage into your timeline, you continue to can’t see something. You begin to ask your self questions like, “why can’t I see my footage?“ “What do all these results imply?” and “What is that this?”.
Sure, it’s a completely completely different mind-set, but it surely’s the identical as creating any new talent. It might take a second to relearn naming conventions to be able to function Nuke, however as quickly as you do, utilizing it is going to develop into second nature.
Layers vs Nodes
AE makes use of layer-based compositing. The idea is just like Photoshop or, in retro phrases, slicing out photos and sticking them on prime of one another.
In AE, you may have a base layer, and if you wish to add a component — like an explosion or a tree within the background — you stack it on prime in a brand new layer.
Nuke, alternatively, makes use of node-based compositing, the place as a substitute of a stack of layers, now we have a kind of circulate chart. Right here we join one aspect (a node) to a different to provide our remaining picture. The node tree you create known as a “script” – a procedural illustration of the ultimate picture. Easy sufficient, proper?
The explanation for this distinction is to do with effectivity. After Results is nice for easier compositions (not essentially fundamental when it comes to talent stage, however with fewer parts or results).
However the bigger the comp, with doubtlessly a whole bunch of components, the trickier it turns into to navigate. And the extra environment friendly you’ll want to be. For instance, in AE, for those who wished to rotoscope or masks an object, you’d have to use the identical form to each layer or duplicate the masks you wish to isolate via the Monitor Matte perform.
In Nuke, you create one node that accommodates the rotoscoped form after which join all different layers to it via the node tree. If you’ll want to make any modifications, you regulate it as soon as in Nuke, whereas in AE, you would wish to repair it in each layer you’ve used it in.
Nuke affords a extra visible surroundings, making compositing huge photographs with many components extra manageable. It provides you granular management, which implies you possibly can produce extra advanced compositions extra simply.
The place to start
Let’s begin small. Nuke has a plethora of nodes obtainable, with extra features being added on a regular basis. It could take perpetually to undergo all of them individually, so as a substitute, I’m going to provide the prime 5 nodes to start out with and what all of them do.
This shows the render output of any related course of within the viewer panel. It’s the one node already current inside Nuke if you open it, and it has a small pipe with the #1 protruding.
It doesn’t have an effect on the picture in any approach however allows you to see what you’re doing. That is the explanation why you possibly can’t see something after studying your footage into the script.
First, choose your file after which press 1. This can activate the viewer. The great thing about this node is that you would be able to join a couple of viewer to it by urgent completely different numbers. Personally, my favorite mixture is:
- What I’m engaged on.
- My earlier render for comparability.
- The unique plate.
- The ultimate output earlier than rendering.
Simply by clicking 4 buttons, I can see 4 completely different views with out transferring the mouse. That is very time environment friendly.
This allows you to mix a number of pictures or components collectively, it’s the equal of layering a picture on prime of one other. When utilizing this node, you select how the pixel values from one picture are calculated with one other in order that the merged picture seems seamless – like how a 3D mannequin of a cup could be positioned on prime of a desk. When merging pictures, you add a B pipe for the background (on this occasion, the desk) and an A pipe for the foreground picture (the cup).
You create this node by urgent M on the Node Graph.
This is a 2D tracker that allows you to extract information from the place, rotation, and scale of a picture. The final course of for doing that is to attach the node to the picture you wish to observe, place anchors on options, calculate the monitoring information, after which select the operation you wish to carry out — be it stabilise, match-move, or one thing else. Your pictures will then transfer in sync with each other.
Unsurprisingly, this one is for rotoscoping — primarily drawing spherical an object in a picture to chop it out of its background. This node options level choice, manipulation, and shape-creation instruments. To make use of, merely choose your software, draw your shapes, and use the management panel to fine-tune.
You’ll be able to create this node by urgent O within the Node Graph.
This is sort of a mixture of the Curves and Stage features used for color correction in After Results. At Vine FX, we use this for color matching and a basic grade if wanted. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have as a lot management as DaVinci or Lightroom. There are different color nodes to assist relying in your purpose, however grade is the primary one most artists begin with.
This node could be created by urgent G on the Node Graph.
Foundry affords loads of useful information on nodes, what they’re, and the way they work.
If doubtful, all the time examine with the corporate that made it.
Many compositors go their complete careers with out studying to code. Nevertheless, just a few traces of Python may give you larger management over Nuke. Even After Results has coded expressions (although not natively Python).
Python and expressions are broadly used scripting features built-in into Nuke. By studying some instructions and workflows, you possibly can management the person interface, shortly modify a number of nodes, and combine with exterior functions.
Expression instructions are completely different in Nuke and AE. For instance, a “wiggle” expression in After Results known as “random” in Nuke.
Once more, what might look like loads of relearning upfront will streamline your course of in the long term. You’ll be able to change Colorspace and body vary on a number of information with 2-3 traces of code. You’ll be able to completely survive while not having to know code when utilizing Nuke, however you’ll thrive by studying it.
The place to go subsequent
Utilizing Nuke for the primary time can look like a frightening prospect, however there are lots of helpful assets obtainable to assist. The very best factor to do, although, is observe.
Foundry affords a non-commercial version of Nuke so you possibly can see what working with it’s really like earlier than utilizing it on business initiatives. It’s additionally free, which is an enormous assist and goes some strategy to reducing the barrier of entry to Nuke.
Each After Results and Nuke have their place and are incredible instruments in their very own proper. Movement graphics artists will love AE and its toolset. And for these wanting (or needing) to stage up their compositing expertise, Nuke is the most suitable choice on the market.
In the end, by taking the time to make the leap from After Results to Nuke for compositing, you possibly can study to work extra successfully on bigger, extra advanced initiatives.
As Lead Compositor at Vine FX, Alesja is devoted to her craft. Combining her twin passions for artwork and arithmetic, she has develop into a useful asset to the group, notably in main sequences on The Witcher, Season 3.
Different key initiatives that Alesja has labored on embody Warfare of the Worlds Season 1-3, The Serpent, Thor: Ragnarok and RTS award-winning The Lazarus Mission.