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

By Brian Mulligan | April 02, 2012

6. Simple compositing on the timeline: Even though Shane likes the vertical compositing in FCP and Premiere, and feels that Avid is lacking, I have to say that Smoke beats them all. This is where Smoke moves from being and editor to being a finishing tool. So all of the tools you need to composite on the timeline are there. And they are easily accessible as soft effects. So they can be easily changed and copied from clip to clip via drag and drop. Smoke has advanced Color Correcting with secondaries, and multiple keying tools including freehand drawn garbage masking tools (Gmask) and blurs. You can also put clips in Containers which act like Nested timelines or like precomps. If you need more, then there is Smoke's true 3D compositor called Action, that you can easily take your timeline shots into. Text is also available as an easy timeline tool. Not only can you composite with effects on clips. But you can also use effects on empty areas of the timeline called Gaps. When you place an effect there, it will act like an adjustment layer through all the clips below. And when it comes to keyframing, nothing beats the Keyframe channel editor in Smoke with its ease of adjusting keyframes via realtime animation curves.

7. The wide variety of Plugins: Smoke doesn't have many plugins available for it. The most popular would be the Sapphire Plugins from Genarts. The thing about plugins on an NLE, is that they are created to fill in gaps that are not available natively in the software. Mainly these are effects plugins. Smoke doesn't really need plugins because it has many many built in tools for effects and compositing. Smoke has 8 keyers built in. It has 2 Color Correction/Grading tools, it has a collection of tools and effects called FlameFX, which contain tools for analyzing Motion and creating motion vectors and motion blurs, DOF blurs, Film/Video Damage effects, Stylized sketch and drawing looks, AutoStabilize tools, Denosie tools, Glows and more. And Action contains true 3D Lens Flares, Blooming, Lights, Shadows, and 3D Text and Geometry. Smoke is a Swiss Army Knife. Every tool you need is included.
8. Organization of Materials: FCP and Adobe both link to your media where it's at, be it neatly organized in folders or just laying on the Mac Desktop. This puts the organization burden on the operator. Avid works best when you transcode everything and then Avid manages the media, and stores it as it sees fit. Well, Smoke can work in either way. You can import your media and leave it linked to its original location, and then you can organize your project libraries as you see fit. So you can create a folder for graphics, and one for stills, and one for camera clips. Or you can import them with their current folder structure.
But if you want Smoke to manage some or all of your media then Smoke will transcode that media and place it on Smoke's framestore. You can still manage the project clips in libraries and Source areas (Bins). One cool thing about Smoke's media management is that at any point you want a piece of media that was linked or unmanaged to now be managed, then it's a simple click or two. Alternately, you can release a managed framestore clip to link back to its original location just as easily. This is a great feature for updating clips or graphic elements that may be still being worked on by a 3rd party. Just replace the original file with a new one and Smoke will update the clip across the software.
9. Exporting a Quicktime file with multiple channels of discreet audio. Smoke has no problem exporting various Quicktime codecs with multiple audio channels. Smoke can also export proper Broadcast .wav format files.
10. The ability to import only portions of tapeless media via Log and Transfer. Yes. Smoke does this with any tapeless media it can read including .r3d, Quicktime, and .mxf. media like P2. You can scrub the media, mark in and out points and drag and drop the clip into the library. You can also import just certain layers from multilayered .PSD files with Smoke. As well as just video or audio tracks from file based media.

Now I am not trying to say Smoke is the best editor out there. I respect Shane. I have listened to his podcasts, and we have talked on Twitter. So I am not belittling his post by saying that "You should be using Smoke." My point is just to show you that Smoke is an editor like FCP7, Premiere Pro, and Media Composer. Everyone thinks of Smoke as a finishing tool, and it is, but it is also has great media organization and timeline tools to make it a great editing tool. What editor wouldn't want to do the creative cut and have all of the tools and quality needed to polish it and do the finishing? So when you compare and contrast tools from the big A's, being Apple, Adobe & Avid. Be sure to include another big A. Autodesk Smoke.

Special Note: There is rumor on Twitter and on the web that there is a big special announcement regarding Smoke at NAB 2012 in April. In 2010 Autodesk brought Smoke to the Mac platform and created quite a buzz because a high end finishing and editing tool was available to the market as a software only system at a reduced cost.

It will be very interesting to see what Autodesk has planned. There is a special showing at the CPUG Supermeet during the convention that is being billed as "Autodesk Smoke is changing. Everything." That's some big talk. As a Smoke user myself, I am glad to see continued support by Autodesk in the Smoke software, and look forward to seeing what's coming for Smoke when I am at NAB. Autodesk will be my first stop.

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.


crimefighter: | April, 02, 2012

Smoke is amazing. No question. Learning curve aside though:

FCPX $299
Premiere Pro $799
Avid $2500
Smoke $15,000

Not for the indy guy/girl

coffeeandcelluloid: | April, 03, 2012

Everything in #8 you can do in FCPX. Either leave the media where it’s at, or have final cut manage it which would pull it into the Final Cut Events folder on the hard drive the event is located at. You can also do a mixture of both. Final Cut creates a reference file for media left in its original location.

Brian Mulligan: | April, 03, 2012

I am hoping that the NAB announcement will bring a different price structure to allow Smoke to be more of an option for more people.  We will soon see.

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