The Foundry's latest release, Nuke7, has a lot of new features that promise to improve on your day-to-day compositing needs. While Nuke continues to be the industry standard for compositing, I'm glad to see they continue to streamline the workflow for the average user’s everyday needs as well as for the complicated big stuff.
One of the main improvements has been to the 2D tracker. It has been revamped almost from scratch in order to address a lot of artist feedback and concerns. One main concern, or more of a pet peeve, was the lack of a stop button. Now you can start and STOP a track using the new toolbar provided at the top of your viewer. There's a cool new Zoom window that lets you take a closer look at where your points are without having to zoom in and out of the plate for every track. You can add an unlimited number of tracks now, instead of just 4 like before. This allows you to track multiple features and, depending on your needs, you can create a track or corner-pin based on various selected tracks. You can also create a result based on the average of multiple tracks.
Nuke has implemented the "export" feature from the planar tracker, so you can now export numerous tracks or corner-pins with the option of having it baked or linked. The toolbar also includes some cool extras to help you along with each track. You can set keyframes throughout the clip and track between those keyframes. This is immensely useful when you just need to fine-tune those problem areas without having to set the in-and-out frame range. There's also a "traffic light" feature that helps identify problem areas within your track: green being a good solve and red being not so good. Through their research and development, the Foundry has also reworked various algorithms in order to improve tracking results, making them faster and more accurate.
Earlier releases of Nuke relied on OS disk-buffering, which gave you less-than-desired results when it came to playback. You would expect it to playback at the specified rate, but it would still have some hiccups now and then. In Nuke 7 though, they have switched over to your system’s RAM in order to give actual real-time playback. They have included a green bar in the timeline that indicates what frames have been cached for your viewing pleasure.
In combination with the improved playback feature, the roto and paint nodes have been improved to handle larger amounts of shapes and/or paint strokes and are capable of playback due to their reduced file sizes. You can now better manage a group of shapes within the dope sheet as well. Each shape shows up as an individual line, which shows its corresponding keyframes.
With the new TimeClip Node, you can create multiple instances of a tree and offset it in time via the dope sheet. You can just drag to where in time you want it to be, as well as adjust the in-and-out points. This makes it easier to reuse an effect (part of your tree) multiple times within your comp and enables you to keep better track of them using the dope sheet.
The latest improvements to Primatte are pretty useful as well. The auto-compute function has been revised in order to give you better results, or at least a good place to start. You can then use some of the new features, such as the "adjust lighting" check box which does the job of balancing the shadowy areas in the green screen.
There is also a "hybrid render" check box which helps fill in your matte. Both have sliders to fine-tune your results, should you chose to enable them. With the new check boxes, you now have the option to output a hybrid-core matte. You can adjust the core matte to dilate or erode as needed, as well as blur. You can also output a "hybrid edge" matte that gives you better results for edge details.
For those of us who are familiar with basic 3D modeling, the "Model Builder" feature is a pretty cool new addition. It allows you to create basic geometry for camera projections that require a little more than just flat cards, without having to switch over to a 3D package. You can set up your basic geo and line it up easier, using the zoom window provided. Once you have basic geo in place, you can go in and carve away or extrude those surfaces in order to add detail where needed. Move points around and select faces, as you desire, in order to recreate your set.
Some of the other 3D improvements include a 3D scale manipulator, 3D alpha shadows and create-camera option. These are pretty handy additions to the 3D workflow. You can now scale 3D objects like you normally would in a 3D package. You can also create a camera from the current view, which comes in handy when you stumble upon the camera angle you like: You won't have to create a new camera from scratch. It's a nice, little timesaver.
In case you do need to import 3D geometry into Nuke, they have implemented the latest FBX2012 support. You can still use any previous version, as well, if need be.
These are some of the new features you can look forward to in this latest edition of Nuke. Along with all the new upgrades and a few other new features, Nuke 7 promises to be a well-rounded update. It has all the key ingredients for compositors who are just starting out with the program, as well as the senior artist who regularly uses the power of Nuke, but wants that little extra boost. This boost packs a punch! These powerful additions should prove to be helpful time-savers as well, which is a real, big help, since deadlines always seem to be getting shorter and shorter.
Daniel Molina is a digital compositor at LOOK Effects in Los Angeles where he has worked on films such as Life of Pi, Underworld Awakening, Captain America, Fast Five, Limitless and Black Swan. His television credits include: “Lost,” “The Pacific” and “V.” Before LOOK, Daniel worked at Zoic Studios, MX Productions, Digital Dream vfx and Lieberman Productions. His credits there include: Old Dogs, Crazy On The Outside, Amusement, Nims' Island, The Mist, Rush Hour 3, Spiderman 3, Next, Wild Hogs and The Nativity Story. To see Daniel’s reel, go to http://www.danmolina.com/demoreel.html.