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Shake/AE/Combustion?


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#1 peter orland

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 08:11 PM

Hi. I'm not sure where to post this so I've posted here.

I'm a camera operator by day, and a rabid movie buff/independent filmmaker by night (and weekends).

I would like to learn one of the composting programmes to add to my existing skills, mostly for keying (greenscreen), but also for all the other things that these programmes do, that I, as a novice, am unaware of at this stage.

The guys I work for have PC's running Premier and Avid Xp, and Mac's running Final Cut Studio which I can access whenever they aren't used and I'm not working. I have a basic knowledge of all three programmes for what that's worth.

The cost factor of buying the software (Shake, After Affects, Combustion) isn't that big a deal to me as they are all available at education prices, and I'm not learning it to become an operator for hire or anything along those lines.

So, if anyone could shed any light or opinions of the pro's and con's of these three in regard to usability, ease of learning, or anything else that I should know, please post away.

Thanks.
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#2 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 09:46 PM

Hi. I'm not sure where to post this so I've posted here.

I'm a camera operator by day, and a rabid movie buff/independent filmmaker by night (and weekends).

I would like to learn one of the composting programmes to add to my existing skills, mostly for keying (greenscreen), but also for all the other things that these programmes do, that I, as a novice, am unaware of at this stage.

The guys I work for have PC's running Premier and Avid Xp, and Mac's running Final Cut Studio which I can access whenever they aren't used and I'm not working. I have a basic knowledge of all three programmes for what that's worth.

The cost factor of buying the software (Shake, After Affects, Combustion) isn't that big a deal to me as they are all available at education prices, and I'm not learning it to become an operator for hire or anything along those lines.

So, if anyone could shed any light or opinions of the pro's and con's of these three in regard to usability, ease of learning, or anything else that I should know, please post away.

Thanks.

Any compositing app will have a steep learning curve. If you're familiar with Photoshop, After Effects might not be too difficult for you to learn. Combustion is roughly on par with AE. Both of these programs can be used for compositing, but they're probably better for motion graphics.

Shake and competing products like Fusion and Nuke are node-based, rather than layer-based. They're a totally different way of working that's much more oriented towards compositing than motion graphics. It can take a while to get into them, but they are very powerful.

I'm familiar with AE, Combustion, and Fusion. Combustion vs. AE comes down mostly to preference. If you're doing hardcore compositing work, you'd want a node-based app. I like Fusion a lot, and find it very easy to use. I haven't used Shake or Nuke yet, but I hear that Nuke has some extremely advanced tools and a not-so-great interface.
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#3 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 12:39 AM

the answer really depends on what you want to eventually be doing, compositing-wise.

do you wanna move into compositing for film vfx, post house/broadcast/commercials, experimental cinema, live action personal projects, or lowish budget industrial/commercial work?
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#4 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 01:45 AM

There is a reasonable amount of post work available in Combustion and more for Shake in the UK Post industry.

The price difference should tell you which package is better

You get what you pay for...

thanks

Rolfe
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#5 peter orland

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 01:50 AM

Thanks for the input guys.

the answer really depends on what you want to eventually be doing, compositing-wise.

do you wanna move into compositing for film vfx, post house/broadcast/commercials, experimental cinema, live action personal projects, or lowish budget industrial/commercial work?



Like I said in my original post..."I would like to learn one of the composting programmes to add to my existing skills, mostly for keying (greenscreen)"..." I'm not learning it to become an operator for hire or anything along those lines."

It is hard for me to be specific when I don't know enough about the subject. I am mainly interested in live action/drama and the use of keying to create and manipulate backgrounds and enviroments etc...

Thanks.
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#6 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 04:21 AM

Thanks for the input guys.
Like I said in my original post..."I would like to learn one of the composting programmes to add to my existing skills, mostly for keying (greenscreen)"..." I'm not learning it to become an operator for hire or anything along those lines."

It is hard for me to be specific when I don't know enough about the subject. I am mainly interested in live action/drama and the use of keying to create and manipulate backgrounds and enviroments etc...

Thanks.


well, the more specific you can be, the more concise of a recommendation i'd be able to make, but here's some general points...

AE is by far the most versatile of the bunch. it has the most quantitive and diverse selection of third party plugins, and the newest version has the option of working in native linear color space and floating point color (the two biggest flaws it used to have for compositing). it is more widely known (and used) for its broad and diverse animation capabilities, but it is used for compositing more often than most realize, especially in the last few years since workstations have gotten so fast.

shake is the most powerful compositing tool of the three, though it's fairly limited when it comes to other uses. it has the least number of third party plugins of the three, and i believe they are more expensive. probably 90% of the time shake is used, it's for film vfx.

combustion is somewhere in the middle. plugins available, can do a lot more than compositing, but not as much as AE. combustion's bigger siblings flame & inferno are intended as realtime tools designed primarily for compositing while a client sits behind you on a couch, paying by the hour. combustion can't really work in realtime, and in my opinion is really only worth learning/buying if you're looking to eventually be a flame/inferno operator.

if you wanna do just greenscreen stuff in an environment with no client present, then shake would be good, though buying/learning shake just for pulling greenscreens is kinda like killing a housefly with a bazooka. also, its keyers, (both third party) keylight and primatte are also available for AE (keylight is included with the AE production version, primatte you'd have to buy). if you think you might wanna dabble into other stuff beyond just popping in a background plate and don't plan on working with stuff beyond HD res, then i'd suggest AE.

also keep in mind that 99% of greenscreen mattes in bigtime projects (studio features, national ads) use some sort of rotoscoping, whether it be simple, sectioned garbage mattes or full-on roto. so if your projects will demand that kind of quality, i'd try and do some research/testing to see if you feel comfortable with the respective software's spline/mask capabilities & options.

hope this helps.
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#7 Aaron_Farrugia

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 04:52 AM

i use after effects and its awsome easy to learn just follow tutorials and its easy to pick up, i came in from using flash to after effects and found it easy to pick up,

cinevex the film processing place in melbourne use shake for all their FX ive heard some very good things about shake , but i think it will be the hardest to start with
and i have a good friend who works at complete post who swears by combustion believes its real good at keying

so its up to u which ever one u pick up i guess they are all very good

i use after effects and its awsome easy to learn just follow tutorials and its easy to pick up, i came in from using flash to after effects and found it easy to pick up,

cinevex the film processing place in melbourne use shake for all their FX ive heard some very good things about shake , but i think it will be the hardest to start with
and i have a good friend who works at complete post who swears by combustion believes its real good at keying

so its up to u which ever one u pick up i guess they are all very good
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#8 peter orland

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 09:20 PM

Thanks again, your advice has not fallen on deaf ears. Should I choose to go After Effects does it matter which platform (mac or pc) as work has both?
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#9 Aaron_Farrugia

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 11:13 PM

yeah there is after effects for both mac and pc
they are both the same

Edited by Aaron_Farrugia, 18 June 2006 - 11:14 PM.

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#10 peter orland

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 02:17 AM

It seems that Shake has been radically reduced in price.

http://store.apple.c...rnMore=MA434Z/A
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#11 timHealy

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 05:03 AM

for what it's worth, They have been talking about the price drop for a few days at:

http://forums.macrum...ad.php?t=210328

Best

Tim
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#12 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 06:44 AM

at that price Shake wins

You can order it now - I just called Apple Regent street - cause I did not believe it (over 80% discount!!!)

I don't work for Apple either

thanks

Rolfe
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#13 peter orland

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 10:47 PM

Hello all.

I have downloaded lots of demo clips of combustion/AE/shake just to get some idea of how they look etc...after the various input from you guys.
There was an interesting clip from the combustion site covering the G buffer builder, it showed how you could seperate different parts of a still image (the z depth?) and selectively define which areas would be in focus, and how if you tracked into the still the focus would shift perspective. I couldn't work out whether AE or Shake are cabable of doing this sort of thing (maybe they all this feature but call it something else).

Is this something that is common to all these kind of compositing programmes, or is this something that is unique to combustion? It seems like a very useful feature.

Sorry if this is really basic.

Thanks.
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#14 Chris_Burket

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 01:48 PM

You can also download a trial version of Shake so you can play with it and see if you like it.
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#15 Will Earl

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 01:53 AM

There was an interesting clip from the combustion site covering the G buffer builder, it showed how you could seperate different parts of a still image (the z depth?)


Unfortanely this only applies to CG renders - which can hold all types of extra channels of information besides R, G and B.

Alpha(A) and Depth (Z) are the two most commonly used.
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#16 Matt Workman

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 11:00 AM

I vote for Shake. Its an industry standard and is capable of working with Cineon files (log to lin conversions etc.) Its has all of the plug-ins you'll need for keying (ultimatte, keylight, many more) Plus there are plenty of training programs for shake out there.

If you ever start doing motion tracking, 3D, shake is the only OSX program that can handle the job. On PC there is Digital Fusion but its harder to learn, less documentation. I've seen both used for similar shots.

SIDE NOTE: I'm selling my Gnomon Workshop - Apple Shake 6 DVD Training Series. I worked through these in a few months and it really gives you a good start in compositing. If you want to learn real green screen techniques this is the way to go. Much more powerful than then AE filters.

http://cgi.ebay.com/...1QQcmdZViewItem
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#17 Thomas Worth

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 04:16 PM

Unfortanely this only applies to CG renders - which can hold all types of extra channels of information besides R, G and B.

Combustion's G-Buffer Builder is not limited only to CG elements. You can use it on any type of footage you want. You can connect the output of any grayscale / alpha source in the project (including an entire composite) to the input of the G-Buffer Builder. The alpha source does not have to reside within the footage you're effecting.

Just for the record, Combustion can import Cineon / DPX files, do log / linear conversions, has built in motion tracking and 3D support. It uses ParticleIllusion for its built-in particle engine. It is basically a software-only version of a Flame or Inferno, and shares the exact same color correction tools as well as the Diamond Keyer. It also supports After Effects plugins.

I prefer it to After Effects, but use both.
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#18 Will Earl

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 03:51 AM

Combustion's G-Buffer Builder is not limited only to CG elements. You can use it on any type of footage you want. You can connect the output of any grayscale / alpha source in the project (including an entire composite) to the input of the G-Buffer Builder. The alpha source does not have to reside within the footage you're effecting.


I stand corrected. Sorry I haven't used Combustion since version 2, and I haven't bothered to check up on it. The G-Buffer Builder looks like an interesting feature. Although that being said I still prefer the flexiblity of rendering out seperate passes - instead of bundling everything into one file.
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