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The Top 10 things you miss about Final Cut are in Autodesk Smoke Part I

By Brian Mulligan | April 02, 2012

Recently, Shane Ross wrote a post on his Little Frog in High Def Blog about the 10 things he missed from Final Cut Pro 7. Shane is a well-respected freelance broadcast editor in Los Angeles. He has edited numerous programs for The History Channel, the Discovery Channel, SYFY, and more. Since the reboot of Final Cut as FCPX, Shane, like so many others has had to find other more reliable tools for the type of work that he does. So Shane's list of things he misses from FCP is compared and contrasted with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5(.5) and Avid Media Composer 6. As I read through his list, I compared them to the editing features in Smoke 2012. Here is how Smoke fairs with the others in terms of the features that Shane misses in the same order that he presented.

1. Resolution Independence: Shane liked that in FCP7 you could add an HD clip to an SD sequence, and it worked fine. And that it would retain the original resolution of the clip for repositioning. Premiere Pro also does this, but Avid will conform it to the sequence properties. Smoke actually does both. When you put a clip that doesn't match the sequence settings, Smoke will automatically add a Resize soft effect to the clip to conform it to the sequence. This resize can be set to frame the clip to fit the sequence in many ways. An SD 4x3 clip in HD can be set to Letterbox, with pillars, or full frame, for example. Now if you want the full resolution of the clip, you can add a different soft effect called AXIS. This will mute the Resize settings and give you the freedom to pan and scan or reposition the video as needed.
2. Audio Mixing on the Timeline: Shane misses the ability to adjust audio levels on clips via the keyboard. Neither Adobe, nor Avid can do it. Smoke can, in a way. When you add a GAIN effect to the clip, the gain amount numeric input box appears, and you can click in the box and then use keyboard arrows to raise the audio by 1db (default) or by any factor you input, say .5db or .02db. Smoke also has some extensive audio controls both at the clip level and the track level. One nice nice feature in Smoke is it will show you the audio waveforms with audio effects applied. So when you raise or lower the gain, the waveform increases and decreases visually. So at a glance you can see your audio levels compared to other clips and tracks.
3. Number of Audio Tracks: Shane like all of us editors, are dong more and more sound mixing, even if it's temporary. So having 48 audio channels is not unheard of. Smoke has 32 audible tracks, with up to 16 channels of output via the AJA Kona card. If you needed more, you can mix down your audio on your timeline at any point. But Smoke has more than enough audio to fit your needs. As well as Audio Timewarps, EQ, Compression, Reverb and Modulation effects. I hope Shane would be happy with that.
4. Ability to work with picture sizes at full resolution on the timeline without plugins: In reading Shane's comments I feel that this links back to point #1.
FCP and Adobe handle images at their native size on the timeline and so does Smoke. And Smoke can go higher than the 4000 pixel barrier that apparently crashes FCP.
5. Clip enable/disable: It seems Smoke and Avid work the same way in how you can move through vertical layers to see clip underneath. Where FCP and Adobe can mute video clips. Smoke does allow you to mute both audio and video tracks. You can mute effects at the clip level, like Color Correct, Axis, Timewarps, and Keying. And muting them doesn't nullify your renders.
You can also view any effected media as original source via the viewer controls without having to mute and unmute anything.

Click here to see Part II

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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.


Andy: | April, 03, 2012

Nice post Brian

But at its current price point I rather suspect that Autodesk’s Smoke could incorporate every clever feature in FCP, Avid and Adobe combined (if and where they don’t have it already) ... and still pick up precious few of those customers. The broadcast industry has long grown used to a far far cheaper cost of entry.

The NAB2012 announcement sounds intriguing tho, theres certainly room for Autodesk to do something special.


Brian Mulligan: | April, 03, 2012

I agree. Autodesk is now teasing us with this.

So it does look like they have big plans for Smoke.
My point was to get people to look at Smoke as and editor, which I use everyday.  Since the FCPX debacle, I keep hearing Avid, Adobe, Apple. 
Even though the price point for Smoke is much different, I still think people should know that Smoke is an editor as well as finishing tool.

H L: | April, 04, 2012

Mite I suggest a look at Sony Vegas.

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