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October 2014
Issue: January 1, 2013

Post Script: Reinventing Autodesk's Smoke

By: Marc Loftus
On December 17,  Autodesk “finally” released Smoke 2013, the latest version of its Mac-driven editing and visual effects tool. I say finally because it was supposed to come to market in September, but ran into “some snags,” says senior product marketing manager Marc Hamaker. The extra time, however, allowed the company to take in even more user feedback — over 31,000 downloads were made during the beta period — enabling Autodesk to deliver an end product that’s “more aligned with what the market needs,” he notes.

Smoke 2013 is aimed at editors that need to do more than just edit. The redesigned release combines new editing workflow tools along with Autodesk’s proven VFX capabilities, including tools for keying, masking and compositing. Its timeline has a look that editors will find familiar, and the UI has been redesigned to be more “Mac-like.” Pricing has also been restructured, and collectively, Autodesk believes the changes will ultimately extend the product’s reach.



Smoke 2013 is priced at $3,495, very close to what the company charges for its 3D applications. Earlier Smoke on the Mac releases cost close to $15K. 
During its pre-release, Autodesk gained useful insight via surveys. While their user base was found to be primarily editors, compositors were a near second when it came to using Smoke, and the title of “artist” followed in third place. The survey also found that 44 percent of users were employing Smoke for VFX, while 29 percent were using it for editorial and 27 percent for conforming. Users’ favorite features include the node-based ConnectFX, the editing capabilities, the new timeline and UI, and the Action compositing tool. Props also went to the app’s ability to allow users to drag and drop from the source viewer, and the collapsible FX pipeline.

While Smoke 2013 is now more powerful and affordable, Autodesk wants to make sure prospective customers aren’t intimidated by its learning curve. The company is committed to making learning easy via the Smoke Learning Channel and its Website, autodesk.com. They are also working with third-parties to help expand training opportunities.