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April 2014
Issue: IBC 2007 - Day 2

AUTODESK ENHANCES ENTIRE LINE FOR 2008

By: Ken McGorry
AMSTERDAM - Autodesk (www.autodesk.com) has made upgrades to its entire product line for the coming year, as promised - product versions are named after their year. Flame, Smoke, Lustre, and Toxik are beneficiaries as well as CG programs Max and Maya. Systems now will offer standard file support to improve facility workflow allowing Autodesk systems and third-party apps to share clips without duplicating media and to work with native media or off a SAN or NAS device. 

Autodesk has enhanced concurrent workflow between visual effects editing and color grading. Software support for OpenEXR and Autodesk FBX allow for new interoperability between Flame and Maya. Flame can now import NURBS objects and compositing artists will be able to match their work with that of their CG department by exporting camera data as well as axis positions and 3D point clouds. What's more, Flame and Smoke are now 100 percent compatible, including a new UI, which will allow artists to switch between systems more easily. Autodesk's Maurice Patel says that the company's migration from the Irix to Linux platform two years ago has fostered lower prices and "democratization" for programs as esoteric as Flame and Smoke. Such strides are taking hold in emerging markets as well as in the US where prices are lowering and straight, plain-vanilla video editing is not enough for many producers seeking visual impact. 

VFX and color grading are where the high-value, high-margin work lies, he said, and the new Flame and Lustre are leading the way. Lustre is promising a DI-friendly multi-layer timeline and a Flame-like tracker meant to make the colorist's life simpler by adding the ability to track moving objects, says Autodesk's Marcus Schioler, product marketing manager. Lustre also embraces the ASC's CDL, a universal color decision list. 

Patel looks to stereoscopic production and post as a potential "next big thing," but wonders if it will ever become a production norm rather than a curiosity. As a buzz developed at IBC over "3D" production such as James Cameron's Avatar, Patel points to three ways stereoscopic production may be achieved: as fully CG-animated stereo; as "mono" footage from which stereo information is extracted by companies such at In Three; and as films such as Cameron's, which are shot in stereo with dual cameras. He sees that stereo is coming soon and adds that such post production work for a feature demands difficult, intensive work.