boujou 5 Review: Matchmoving Enters its Maturity
Developed for film and television post and VFX facilities, boujou has long been the industry standard for matchmoving, allowing users to add computer-generated effects seamlessly into film or video footage. When boujou was first introduced in 2001, it provided a completely different approach to motion tracking. Before boujou, matchmoving was an expensive and highly skilled process, adding significantly to post-production costs. Everything had to be done by hand in key-frame animation, or with laborious point-based camera tracking. boujou, with its ability to track hundreds, if not thousands, of points automatically, changed all that.
Despite its groundbreaking status, boujou was still very much a hit-or-miss proposition when it first came out. It either worked, or it didn't. An artist would bring in the background plate to be tracked, enter the lens data and hit feature track, and boujou would try to come up with a solution. When it worked, it worked well, and when it didn't, it was often easier to move to a manual solution. As the versions have progressed, boujou has added more and more functionality, giving users the means for increased refinements. It started out as very easy to learn, with just a couple of buttons to push. Now it still has that basic functionality, but it's been expanded with a lot more depth. Advanced users can do a lot more with it and take shots further than ever before without moving to a separate package.
Vicon recently released boujou 5, with a host of new features and improved functionality that will help the software continue to earn its reputation as the industry's leading matchmoving solution. Overall, I'm happy to see the changes in boujou 5. I've used pretty much every major matchmoving program that's come out over the last 13 years, and one of the great things about boujou is that it tries to exploit processing power and nicely crafted algorithms, and utilizes a large data set to come up with the perfect camera solve. With each version of boujou I'm finding fewer reasons to have to go to external tools, and boujou 5 is no exception.
There's always room for improvement with any software tool, and there are a few things I imagine will be incorporated into boujou in the future, but boujou 5 does just about everything I could wish for right now. This latest release represents the fulfillment of some of the most frequently requested features from boujou users, including an Automatic Sequential Solver, Reference Frames, a new Target Tracker and a fully functional Graph Editor, and they've been addressed quite well.
The Automatic Sequential Solver now available in boujou is a huge time-saver. Previous versions of boujou took the entire shot into account before delivering a solve. boujou 5 has the ability to look at a single frame at a time, enabling the user to intervene as needed and making the entire process significantly faster. This is perfect for users who want to sift through a problem area one frame at a time without having to create a solve for the entire shot.