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Autodesk Offers All-In-One Solution with NLE Suites Part II

Smoke 2012 for Mac offers an all in one solution to save you time and money

By Clint Milby | March 16, 2012

Basic Training
Now that I steeled myself to learn Smoke, I was ready and determined to get down to business. Fortunately, Autodesk has provided several step by step tutorials which through the most basic aspects of her in the software which helped me on my way. Again, Smoke doesn't look or feel like any other OS app I've ever used, so I started from the beginning: importing clips into the project. Start by loading the folder that contains your clips. Select clips you want to import into the project window. Then you just highlight a clip and using the 'Source Layout' and select the 'standard screen'.

Then a player shows up. Simply hit the play button to play the clip in the timeline.

Hints To Help
The first thing to noticed when utilizing Smoke was to make sure I was not running any other programs in the background. For this reason I would stay away from Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari and especially Google Chrome. This is tough in the beginning because the tutorials which Autodesk provides are actually streamed online from the Autodesk website. To counteract this, I recommend loading these tutorials into a laptop of secondary workstation. This will also allow you to take advantage of the Smoke wiki, forums and other support on the Autodesk website. Also, when Smoke is engaged, you'll notice that Dock no matter where it's placed at the bottom, sides or top will not be available. You'll have to get out of Smoke to take advantage of any of the Dock functions.

Try Before You Buy
As amazing as Smoke is, the cost and learning curve might prove to be a deterrent. However, Autodesk is making it easy for you to try Smoke risk free. Right now, you can try a full version of Autodesk Smoke for thirty days. With that you'll get all of the online tutorials as well as access to Autodesk's support community and wiki to help you along your way. It's true, this self contained post workflow may be tough at first, but once you spend just a few hours with it, I bet you'll fall in love as your fears go up in Smoke.

For more information about Autodesk Smoke 2012 for Mac OS X go to their website at:


Click here to see Part I

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Disclosure, to comply with the FTC’s rules 16 CFR Part 255 This article was either written by Autodesk employees or for Autodesk by an outside contractor. It is intended for the Autodesk Channel on ProVideo Coalition, which Autodesk sponsors.


davidjahns: | March, 16, 2012

As a new Smoke user, I can second the notion that the workflow is quite hard to wrap your head around.  It is MUCH different that the usual FCP/Avid/After Effects way of working, if that’s where you’re coming from.  it is quite a powerful app, and once you “get it”, it’s great.

I come from an Avid/FCP background, and I’ve been doing in-house finishing on our low-to-mid-level TV spots (and non-broadcast) for a couple of years.

I can’t imagine going back to my convoluted finish process of FCP/Color/CinemaTools/After Effects, etc… - all of that bouncing around between apps for different tasks.  I can pretty much do everything in Smoke.  Some of Smoke’s Modules can still feel a bit clunky to me, but it’s nice to have all your tools in one app. (If 2013 has a planar tracker, I’ll be all set!)

The 30 day trial is great - if you have 30 days to devote to it! As a working pro, I didn’t have enough time to get into it, but then enrolled in a Smoke 101 training course, which came with a 90 day trial.  After the 90 days, I was hooked, and convinced our facility that we should invest in Smoke to be our in-house finishing tool.

So, it’s been about 6 months, and I now feel comfortable doing client supervised sessions, and I’m reasonably confident I can pull off whatever is necessary - but it takes a while!  At first you can spend a lot of time trying to figure out something that seems like it would be quite simple - flopping a shot, or adding a drop shadow, etc…  Kind of embarrassing if a client is on the couch!

You just have to learn how Smoke thinks.  For example, there’s not a simple “Flop” filter - you have to understand that Smoke would think of that a 180 degree rotation of the Y axis in 3D space.

An analogy that makes sense to me is that FCP & banks of filters/presets is kind of like shopping for pre-made frozen foods, and Smoke is like being a chef in the produce store and butcher shop - you have all of the ingredients you’ll ever need, but you have to know how to put them all together to make a great meal. 

Grant Kay’s video blogs are great, but everything is always over simplified - so it’s usually enough to get you started on a particular topic, and I’m often digging into the 2600 page PDF user manual.  Scary!  And it’s not written with the beginning user in mind.  Here’s one of my favorites: 

“Archive Structure: The first entry of an archive is the archive itself. The archive entry is the parent entry for all other entries. Entries within the archive are structured in the same way as entries in a clip library.”

Umm - ok!  There should be an Autodesk to understandable English translator app!

But it’s worth it.  $15K sounds like a lot (and the high-end Mac & graphics cards & Raid storage will add another $10k), but compare that to a Flame system, and it’s a pretty damn good value! 

David Jahns
Joint Editorial
Portland, OR

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