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Old December 25th, 2005, 07:08 PM   #1
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Best Software for Composting/Effects?

Which is the best software for special effects?

Is it Adobe After Effects? Or Combustion? Or Shake (sadly only Mac now)? Or Digital Fusion? Or Toxik?

Which is considered the most powerful and best overall?

Also, what is the point of Lustre or other Digital Grading software when the above can do all the color correction, etc, right?

Thanks.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 03:43 PM   #2
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The point of lustre or systems like da vince etc... is more flexibility, more options, better workspace and real time correction.
For example - lets say you want to make the eyes of a character's face a little brighter without touching anything else. In NLE's or compositors, you would need to create a new layer, a mask, rotoscope that and perform your corrections.
In programs like lustre, I believe you just create the mask and corrections and the rest is performed automatically. And it will play back in real time.
It's like asking what the point of Avid Symphony Nitris when you can use Avid DV for free. You just get more ;)

As far as the best compositor - I know Shake is used a fair bit in the film industry, but I think they are pretty similar. I use combustion for most of my compositing and after effects for most of my animated graphics.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 05:07 PM   #3
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Matt - thanks for your input. How would you compare Combustion and After Effects? Both are priced in the same ball park...

Which do you prefer? Is one better than the other at anything? Which is more powerful? Or easier to learn?

Is there anything you can do with high end packages like Shake and Tokix that you can't with Combustion or After Effects?

Thanks again.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 05:42 PM   #4
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I think each program has something the other doesn't, but with a plug in or two they probably all match each other. So if you bought combustion over shake, I don't think there would be much, if anythng at all that you'd miss out on.

I prefer combustion because of the interface - I did find it quite difficult to learn but once I did, I find I can work very quickly and things like keying, rotoscoping etc.. I find much better than after effects.
I guess AE is easier to learn because functions of what effect you're using can be found in it's twirl down menu, so you are not searching for things. Combustion and AE kind of have a different language - things that are named something in AE, are called something else in combustion.
Anyway...

I see it this way - for motion graphics, you can't beat after effects
for compositing, combustion is king.
(this is of course for PC and software based only - once you get into hardware based systems, then it's a different ball game).

So if you are interested in motion graphics and content creating, maybe AE is for you, but if you work more with visual fx and compositing etc... then combustion would probably suite you more.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 06:17 PM   #5
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I don't think the Lustre performs things automagically for you... you probably need to manually define the mask and the key to isolate specific things in an eye.

The point of a Lustre is that it's designed solely for color grading. It has other minor improvements like having a control surface.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 07:15 PM   #6
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Speaking of Lustre, why would Peter Jackson buy loads of Lustre, when he already has loads of Shake?

I believe that Weta uses Shake and Maya for all the effects and now also Lustre for Grading pre-Post. Basically as soon as the film is developed it is scanned and graded, before anything is even done. The cinematographers job is becoming easier and easier...

Of course if effects are added, then it will probably be graded again after that. So three digital passes in all.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 08:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
I don't think the Lustre performs things automagically for you... you probably need to manually define the mask and the key to isolate specific things in an eye.

The point of a Lustre is that it's designed solely for color grading. It has other minor improvements like having a control surface.
Of course you need to manually draw your masks - what I meant was that when you create a mask and grade it, you don't then need to go about the usual technique of making sure the mask follows it's subject. Create a mask and it automatically tracks.

Like Glen said, Lustre is purely for colour grading, where Shake is for compositing. Shake has colour correction tools but I strongly doubt it could come colse to matching the abilities of a dedicated suite like Lustre.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 06:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hse Kha
Which is the best software for special effects?
With software for vfx as with anything, it's the artist and not the brush. All the applications you listed have been used on big-deal effects films. But you know that.

As for which is best for a specific task, it depends what you're trying to do. And on your budget. And on your workflow.

One advantage of After Effects is the great collection of training books, videos, and seminars.

Covering just a couple:

The AE books by Chris and Trish Meyer are aimed at the motion graphics crowd, but they're justifiably great...and will give someone more interested in vfx a good grounding on the basic concepts and use of the application. Disclosure: I used to work with the company that publishes these books and consider the Meyers friends.
<http://www.cybmotion.com/training/books.html>

The Total Training for After Effects DVDs from Total Training are expensive, but worth it. The DVDs will give you a good grounding in the application. A different style of learning than with the Meyers' books, but that's better for some people.
<http://www.totaltraining.com/prod/adobe/aftereffect65_pro.asp?mscsid=>

Mark Christiansen's Adobe After Effects 6.5 Studio Techniques book from Peachpit focuses more on visual effects techniques. Disclosure: Mark's a very good friend of mine. But he makes his living doing vfx.
<http://www.peachpit.com/title/0321316207>

There are also other good training aids for AE and some good training aids for the other applications, but I think there are more for AE.

Once you've mastered one application, then you'll be in a position to know if another will serve your needs better... There's a reason many companies use more than one on a project...

Sorry if this is all too elementary.

Jim
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Old December 27th, 2005, 06:45 PM   #9
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I am surpised that After Effects is so highly rated. I always thought that it was an entry level app and no match for Combustion and the like, especially for Motion Graphics...
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Old December 27th, 2005, 06:56 PM   #10
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Like Glen said, Lustre is purely for colour grading, where Shake is for compositing. Shake has colour correction tools but I strongly doubt it could come colse to matching the abilities of a dedicated suite like Lustre.
You know if there were a color grading version of Shake it would absolutely rock. It has all the really nice trackers, as well as good rotoscope abilities to let you nicely isolate parts of an image. But it certainly doesn't have the full set of color tools you'd want, and is lacking in real-time performance.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 07:23 PM   #11
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Now there is good inspiration for a full blown, high level plugin typre colour grading package for something like shake
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Old December 27th, 2005, 07:37 PM   #12
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Why add grading features to Shake? Why not use a task-specific tool? If you really want to stay on the Mac, you could look at something like FinalTouch.

http://www.siliconcolor.com/

No, AE isn't low end.

Jim
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Old December 27th, 2005, 10:20 PM   #13
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I'm just being a dreamer here. :)

The isolation features in Shake are nice, as it's got nice motion tracking and rotoscoping. And then you can take those masks and limit effects with it, so you can grade foreground elements seperate from the background.

The way the effects can be combined is nice, so that you can create new effects. Some combination of Shake and Final Touch would be neat.

2- I did try Final Touch, and it's alright. I like Vegas better. FT has some flaws so that sometimes its output quality is not as good as it can be.

Anyways, I think I've gone off-topic here.
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Old December 29th, 2005, 11:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
I did try Final Touch, and it's alright. I like Vegas better. FT has some flaws so that sometimes its output quality is not as good as it can be.
Interesting. What flaws have you found in Final Touch? Also, how were you using it?

Jim
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Old December 30th, 2005, 10:31 AM   #15
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"Which is the best software for special effects"

that depends on the effects you want to create ..

if it is just compositing then i would go combustion ..

you will find that 95% of professional special effects persons use more then one application ...

here i use combustion 4, commotion 4, AE 6.5pro, Ultra2 ... so that's 90% combustion , 8% AE , 2%commotion , 0% ultra2 .... when i go to film/video shows ( NAB, DV expo etc) i still look at other apps/plug in's = always looking for a new tool/app that is either better or easier/increases workflow ... a place that i consult with uses AE 90% for the same effects that i use combustion ( they have combustion) .. the employees can use either and it just seems to be AE is what they learned on (i started on combustion) ..
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