Over my 10-year profession, I’ve labored in two of the main compositing packages within the VFX trade: After Results and Nuke.
After Results is the Swiss Military knife of post-production, with a number of capabilities, 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, however, is extra like a surgeon’s scalpel — a devoted and exact package deal constructed to do one factor: composite. It’s the trade customary for good purpose, and it’s the instrument I take advantage of at Vine FX on initiatives starting from Battle of the Worlds to The Vacationer.
As a result of Nuke is so ubiquitous, it’s necessary to know find out how to use it when collaborating with post-production corporations or simply as a result of it offers you such a strong set of instruments for compositing.
Nevertheless, when adopting new software program, you possibly can simply fall into the lure 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 comparable parts, reminiscent of a timeline, however importing recordsdata is extra sophisticated.
In Nuke, the ‘import media’ tab is known as ‘learn’, which differs significantly from most software program. When you convey 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 very totally different mind-set, but it surely’s the identical as creating any new talent. It might take a second to relearn naming conventions in an effort to function Nuke, however as quickly as you do, utilizing it’ll turn into second nature.
Layers vs Nodes
AE makes use of layer-based compositing. The idea is just like Photoshop or, in retro phrases, reducing out footage and sticking them on high of one another.
In AE, you could 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 high in a brand new layer.
Nuke, however, makes use of node-based compositing, the place as an alternative of a stack of layers, we now have a type of move chart. Right here we join one ingredient (a node) to a different to provide our remaining picture. The node tree you create is named a “script” – a procedural illustration of the ultimate picture. Easy sufficient, proper?
The rationale for this distinction is to do with effectivity. After Results is nice for easier compositions (not essentially primary by way of talent stage, however with fewer parts or results).
However the bigger the comp, with doubtlessly lots of of parts, the trickier it turns into to navigate. And the extra environment friendly you have to be. For instance, in AE, should you needed to rotoscope or masks an object, you’d have to use the identical form to each layer or duplicate the masks you need to isolate via the Observe 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 have to make any adjustments, you regulate it as soon as in Nuke, whereas in AE, you would want to repair it in each layer you’ve used it in.
Nuke affords a extra visible atmosphere, making compositing massive photographs with many parts extra manageable. It offers you granular management, which suggests you possibly can produce extra complicated compositions extra simply.
The place to start
Let’s begin small. Nuke has a plethora of nodes obtainable, with extra capabilities being added on a regular basis. It could take endlessly to undergo all of them individually, so as an alternative, I’m going to provide the high 5 nodes to begin 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 whenever you open it, and it has a small pipe with the number one protruding.
It doesn’t have an effect on the picture in any manner however lets you 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 may activate the viewer. The fantastic thing about this node is that you may join multiple viewer to it by urgent totally 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 totally different views with out transferring the mouse. That is very time environment friendly.
This lets you mix a number of pictures or parts collectively, it’s the equal of layering a picture on high 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 can be positioned on high 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 lets you extract information from the place, rotation, and scale of a picture. The overall course of for doing that is to attach the node to the picture you need to observe, place anchors on options, calculate the monitoring information, after which select the operation you need 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 instrument, draw your shapes, and use the management panel to fine-tune.
You may create this node by urgent O within the Node Graph.
This is sort of a mixture of the Curves and Degree capabilities 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 principle one most artists begin with.
This node may be created by urgent G on the Node Graph.
Foundry affords a whole lot of useful information on nodes, what they’re, and the way they work.
If unsure, at all times verify with the corporate that made it.
Many compositors go their complete careers with out studying to code. Nevertheless, a couple of traces of Python can provide you higher management over Nuke. Even After Results has coded expressions (although not natively Python).
Python and expressions are extensively used scripting capabilities built-in into Nuke. By studying some instructions and workflows, you possibly can management the consumer interface, shortly modify a number of nodes, and combine with exterior functions.
Expression instructions are totally different in Nuke and AE. For instance, a “wiggle” expression in After Results is named “random” in Nuke.
Once more, what might appear to be a whole lot of relearning upfront will streamline your course of in the long term. You may change Colorspace and body vary on a number of recordsdata with 2-3 traces of code. You may 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 appear to be a frightening prospect, however there are various helpful assets obtainable to assist. The best possible factor to do, although, is observe.
Foundry affords a non-commercial version of Nuke so you possibly can see what working with it’s truly like earlier than utilizing it on business initiatives. It’s additionally free, which is a giant assist and goes some technique to decreasing the barrier of entry to Nuke.
Each After Results and Nuke have their place and are unbelievable 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 abilities, Nuke is the most suitable choice on the market.
Finally, by taking the time to make the bounce from After Results to Nuke for compositing, you possibly can study to work extra successfully on bigger, extra complicated initiatives.
As Lead Compositor at Vine FX, Alesja is devoted to her craft. Combining her twin passions for artwork and arithmetic, she has turn into a useful asset to the workforce, notably in main sequences on The Witcher, Season 3.
Different key initiatives that Alesja has labored on embody Battle of the Worlds Season 1-3, The Serpent, Thor: Ragnarok and RTS award-winning The Lazarus Venture.