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Old March 16th, 2007, 07:38 PM   #1
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Compositing program decision help

Hello all! I am an independent filmmaker in the US. I am proficient in Premiere and Lightwave 3D, but have never used a compositing program before. I am looking to buy a program but would like some professional advice first. The programs I am considering are: Digital Fusion 5, After Effects, D2 Nuke, and Newtek VT4.

However, my budget is quite low. I really wouldn't want to spend all that much. So which of these programs would you recommend? Are they really worth their price? Can After Effects do a whole lot more than Premiere? And are there any other programs that I haven't listed that would be viable?
Thanks for the input!

Last edited by Jackson Carver; March 16th, 2007 at 07:39 PM. Reason: modification
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Old March 16th, 2007, 10:58 PM   #2
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Are you using PPro2 as your NLE? If so, AfterEffects will interact fairly seamlessly with it through Adobe Bridge. Have a read on the Adobe site for an explanation.

And yes, AFX does a lot that PPro2 doesnt. Whether its WORTH it depends entirely on what kind of projects you have in mind...
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Old March 17th, 2007, 12:46 AM   #3
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I echo Graham's comments - AE does loads more than Premiere, but not unless your projects need it. For what it's worth, I use it mainly for title sequences and DVD menu animations, although I'm sure I only scratch the surface...

I guess the best thing is to ask yourself whether you've wanted to do something in PP, and haven't been able to - then see if AE does it!

Hope this helps
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Old March 18th, 2007, 11:58 AM   #4
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These are the types of things that I want to do:

- Composite 3D animation into live action.
- Good color correction/grading tools.
- Create muzzle flashes, explosions, other particle effects.
- Be able to green screen actors.
- Rotoscope objects into live action.
- etc., etc.

I have done all of these things to some extent in NLEs, but never in a standalone program.

I really do not want that much to use After Effects. I love Adobe products but they are geared more for the ''prosumer'' instead of a pro. I.e., Discreet Combustion and D2 Nuke and Fusion 5 have been used for a vast amount more film work than AE. For the things I am looking for, at least.
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Old March 18th, 2007, 11:03 PM   #5
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We both recommended AE since it would allow you to leverage the learning curve you've apparently been through with Premiere.

I wouldnt describe AfterEffects as 'prosumer' myself - but by all means use something else!
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Old March 19th, 2007, 12:13 AM   #6
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Hi well I used the 4 mentioned below and in this order I would choose

Digital Fusion or DFX
After Effects.
Aura withthe VT4 is a little dated these days.

I've not used Nuke so cannot comment.

Once you start using nodes in DFX or Fusion you will NEVER go back to any of the others, you can for instance save complete node sets as a new tool so say you spend a few hours treating your green screen footage in a cirtain way E.G key, colour grade etc etc.. the next time you do a simlar shot needing a simlar setup go to your saved node tree and the job is done, very cool tool set IMHO.
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Old April 3rd, 2007, 09:11 AM   #7
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Fusion is awesome and my favorite compositor, but I would recommend AE. AE has great integration with Premiere, can do realistic effects, and a lot of us use AE as our budget online system.

Basically I edit my entire movie in FCP, then use automatic duck to send the entire movie to AE for titles, graphics, VFX, color correction, everything else, and then the final render is out of AE. Since you use Premiere there is no need for Automatic Duck.

This is something that can't easily be done in Fusion or Shake, because they don't handle the long format as well. Your AE timeline will be massive, but you can organize it.

For more information on onlining in AE I recommend Stu Maschwitz's book:

A great book on doing realistic visual effects in AE is "After Effects 7 (or 6.5) Studio Techniques".

Not wanting to use AE because it is not professional enough is not accurate. Here is a video of how AE was used to create some impressive effects in the big budget movie Van Helsing:

Stu Maschwitz and the guys at The Orphanage use AE for all kinds of stuff. Look at their list of credits and you might recognize a few.
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Old April 26th, 2007, 03:31 PM   #8
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Fusion is my favorite as well, but if you want this on any sort of budget I'd recommend AE. It's good enough for the things you listed without breaking the bank. But I would definitely recommend a look at Fusion. Andy is spot on when he says that the node system is far superior to layers. It is definitely different than a layers application, but it is very flexible and powerful once you get used to it.
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Old April 27th, 2007, 09:42 AM   #9
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I would also recommend AE Pro for your situation, especially since you are using Premiere.
AE is well beyond pro-sumer grade, used by many of the top visual effects houses for everything from major feature films through local TV ads.

Maybe it's market penetration and used by indie filmmakers may give the impression of it being a pro-sumer product. It can easily handle everything in your list plus do much much more.
Nick Jushchyshyn Matchmoving, Compositing, TD
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Old April 27th, 2007, 12:00 PM   #10
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I use PP2.0 and AE7 pro and LW9 to great effect. I think that describing AE7 as a prosumer product is not accurate. While it does lack node based compositing, it is still HIGHLY effective as a compositing, VFX and motion graphics tool.

To echo the sentiments of some of the other posters here, AE has been used in a LOT more features than you may be aware of.

Check out Stu Maschwitz's book as referenced above. Regardless of what you end up getting, it's a great book for indies. You can read my brief review of it on Slashdot here.

If you DO get AE, I would suggest reading Adobe Classroom in a Book to get started. Studio Techniques assumes you already know the app.

But, heck if money is no object, get Digital Fusion for $5k.
B-Scene Films
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Old May 3rd, 2007, 01:21 PM   #11
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My 2 cents,

I was also looking at AE vs DFX vs Combustion a couple years ago. AE could not compete back then, so I went with a copy of DFX (modules 1-visual effects, and 4-3d tools). I used it mainly for image stabilization, where it showed its class. I went for awhile without using it, then needed some stabilization, rotoscoping, and painting. Since my skills were rusty, I had some problems, plus I needed the paint module. Pigsfly is the largest community for support, where I posted a question as well as a WTB ad for the remaining modules, and received zero replies. I never was able to get it working correctly.

At NAB, Eyeon introduced Vision, DFX's replacement for 8 and 16 bit projects, combining the functionality of the modules with an emphasis on newsroom production needs. The Sales VP offered an upgrade price for moving from DFX, so just today I did some homework, looking at availability, capability, support, community activity, etc.

AE7 is ready to go now, with a seemingly limitless growth path toward the capabilities of Fusion or some of the Avid products. There are several active quality forums where support is available quickly and sympathetically (some of the high end crowds can be hard on entry level folks), i'm familiar with the interface and tools via work with Photoshop, plus as Adobe integrates further ala CS3, I'll be positioned to upgrade into a tighter toolset, although I'll stick with Vegas as the NLE. In terms of capability, it's solid for my needs, and will only continue to grow into higher end projects ala Van Helsing. The titling and graphics capabilities define the industry.

I do see the power of the node-based system, and always liked Eyeon's attitude, but I never did get it, probably because I didn't use it enough. I see Vision as having a great toolset but with its focus on the newsroom it may be limited in its mission, i.e. not really paying attention to indie filmmakers or event videographers.

Bang for the buck, I could not beat AE7. I decided to go with it for $350 off eBay.
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