Editors will spend most of their day in the Timeline mode. This interface page is organized into the standard editing view with player windows at the top and a track-based timeline at the bottom. Smoke always loads at least two timelines — the edited sequence and the selected source clip. Effects can be applied to the source clip, as well as to clips on the timeline.
The browser displays all imported source clips for a project. It can be placed on the left, on the right or hidden entirely. Within it, clips can be organized into folders. You may have more than one sequence in a project, but only one project can be open at a time. As you select a clip, it immediately loads into the viewer and timeline window.
No double-clicking required. Smoke is a good, fast editor when it comes to making edits and adjusting clips on the timeline. There are some nice touches overlooked on other NLEs. For example, it uses track-based audio editing with keyframable real-time mixing. There are a set of audio filters that can be applied and the output has a built-in limiter.
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The edit commands include the standard insert, overwrite and replace functions, but also some newer ones, like append and prepend. While editing is solid, I would still categorize Smoke as a finishing tool. It lacks the control needed for narrative long-form, like detailed custom bin columns, a trim tool, multi-camera editing and more. The better approach is to do your rough cuts in another desktop NLE and then send it to Smoke for the remainder. Then import and link files in Smoke and you are ready to go.
Typically Smoke had difficulty in relinking media files when it was an Avid project, most likely due to issues in the AAF. The visual effects tools are the big reason most editors would use Smoke over another NLE. There are four ways to apply effects. Spark is the API for third party filters. GenArts Sapphire is the first effects package for Smoke When these effects are added to a clip on the timeline, a reduced set of parameters appears in a fly-out panel at the top of the timeline.
Axis lets you add text, lighting, 3D cameras, plus adjust surface properties and surface deformations. Once you enter any of the effects editors, the mode changes and you are in a new user interface specific to the context of that effect. The controls flow left to right and change options according to the selections made. The third way to build an effect is to select ConnectFX. An effect like Color Correction may be applied directly to the timeline as a single filter or as a filter within a ConnectFX build.
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One of available tools within the set is Action, which is a separate compositing method. It forms the fourth way to build effects. You can composite multiple media clips in an Action node, such as a title over a background. Once you step into an Action node, you are presented with its own schematic. Instead of a flowchart, the Action schematic shows parent-child links between layers of the composite, such as a light that is attached to a media clip.
Action is where you would make adjustments in 3D camera space. Some tools, like the 3D lens flare effect are only available in Action. Smoke detractors make a big deal out of the need to render everything. When rendering is required, the processing speed is pretty quick. If you export a sequence with unrendered effects, then all effects are first processed rendered before the finished, flattened master file is exported.
Smoke is likely to be one of the deepest, but powerful, editing applications you will ever encounter. Nevertheless, you can start to be productive without having to tackle those until you are ready. More price sensitive production companies can simply pay the license fee and learn how to take advantage of the tool on their own by experimenting, buying books, and watching videos. Larger shops will likely pay significantly more to Autodesk once they invest in additional support, upgrade programs, and official training courses.
Smoke is now a much more mass market product, but it's still not going to be for everybody. As always, it makes sense to take stock of your goals, type of work you do, and client demands before rushing out and purchasing a new tool set. So who does this work well for? First off you need clients that value quality, effects, compositing and color correction. People producing low-cost web video and bare bones corporate videos are probably best sticking to a tool like FCP or Premiere Pro. I think that Smoke is a great fit for companies that need to turn around effects heavy videos under tight timelines.
The ability to incorporate changes quickly and easily will be an important element of the purchase decision. This market includes those who do lots of work on broadcast television commercials, high-end corporate work, agencies who edit in-house, as well as, and large corporations with their own production groups. The curtains will be lifted very soon and we will get the chance to see if the software lives up to its promises. Will it be easy enough? Previous versions of Smoke were powerful, but very complex. Autodesk is building off a strong base, but the NLE is version 1.
Will the bins, media management, shortcuts, trimming tools, etc. Will the learning curve of the new version be easy enough to spur more mass adoption? Based on the feedback I've heard, the people I've spoken with, the demos I've seen, and the early reviews by Creative Planet , Scott Simmons , and Walter Biscardi , it looks like the software will live up to its disruptive promise.
Autodesk Smoke Visual Effects Software Review - Videomaker
The prolonged public beta is an excellent way of answering these questions, and it is a great marketing tactic. People will have months to use the software and see for themselves what the learning curve is like, and whether it makes sense to integrate the tool in their workflow. I think the release of Smoke highlights the changing dimensions of competition in the NLE world.
It's akin to the changes in the PC world where total cost of ownership became more important than the sticker price of a computer or the processor clock speed.
The various editing options will increasingly be evaluated based on their ability to shave time off the entire post production process. Reducing clicks, imports, exports, renders, and manual asset management will be the order of the day. Shrinking budgets and tight timelines will dictate this.
Premiere Pro will have to get better at media management, because this is where time is wasted in collaborative workflows. While Avid has made strides in opening up the front-end, Walter Biscardi's post highlights that it has lots of work to do in terms of opening up its back end so that people can efficiently export projects into other tools.
If tools are going to be measured based on their overall ability to increase an editors efficiency over the entire post production workflow, then suites or super applications are the easiest way of delivering this. Because everything inside of a suite can be controlled by developers.
You can try all you want to work well with external products and don't get me wrong, I think this is important , but diverging corporate goals, development priorities, interface decisions, and release schedules mean that it's going to be harder to offer a streamlined experience through a collection of third party tools than it will be within a single tool or suite of tools. Bottom line, I think that this market is going to be increasingly about suite vs.
Taking this speculation a bit further, if Autodesk's approach is successful and if it starts encroaching on the share of the other NLE vendors, it could prompt some changes or consolidation in the industry. Could this pave the way for Avid and Blackmagic to find a way to combine Media Composer and Davinci Resolve into their own "super app"? It looks like there is a new major contender in the NLE ring, and that it has the potential to be disruptive to the industry.
If you are at all in the target market described above, it's definitely worth checking Smoke out when the preview is released. With a prolonged public beta period it should be usable until the commercial release in the fall , people will have the opportunity to test it for free themselves and make up their own minds. For post production professionals, it's nice to see a road-map laid out in advance so that they can see if the product lives up to the hype, test it, and make plans for the coming year.
We really like where Autodesk is going and the approach it is taking. This is the first time they've opened up a tool for a prolonged public beta period to get feedback and improve the product. While it's hard releasing something before a product is completely done, the public feedback helps make a better product faster. We hope for the best, because it will spur more innovation in this market. Every tool, new or old, must empower you to craft better stories, better quality videos and better results. Tools that do this are ideal for you and your production company.
Is your business running you, or are you running a business? Here's a guide to when it's time to grow from a single-person producer into a production team. Here's how. Smoke: Reducing Round-Tripping and Increasing Efficiency With Smoke , Autodesk is trying to help editors and video production companies reign in the complexity and wasted time associated with using multiple single purpose tools and plugins on a project.
Efficiency Isn't a New Focus For Smoke, It's Just Being Taken to a New Level Giving post production professionals an integrated set of tools that is designed to minimize clicks and reduce time spent round-tripping material isn't a totally new thing for Autodesk. How much time can be saved through integration? Questions About the New Smoke Will Soon be Answered The curtains will be lifted very soon and we will get the chance to see if the software lives up to its promises.
Once you've got Smoke in your hands, let us know what you think in the comments below. Feb 5, Your Ideal Production Tool or Asset. Nov 17, Oct 2,
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