The Foundry is releasing NUKE 9, the latest version of its wildly popular compositing software that includes NUKE STUDIO and updates to NUKE and NUKE X. STUDIO, in particular, will allow users to access NUKE in a timeline environment. To get a feel for what users should expect from the upcoming releases – which have been in beta for a few months – we asked three NUKE experts about their thoughts on some of the new features.

Grant Miller – visual effects supervisor, Ingenuity Engine

Grant Miller.
Grant Miller.

VFX background: Grant Miller is a creative director and visual effects supervisor at Ingenuity Engine. Their work spans TVCs, music videos, animation, idents and some film effects.

New NUKE features to look out for: “The new planar tracker is fantastic,” says Miller, “especially compared to the old one. It seems like I have very rarely needed to go into say a Mocha or something else to get a really good planar track. But before that, it was a big part of my workflow to use Mocha and go back and forth.”

Going deep: After testing the NUKE 9 beta for the past few months, Miller believes one of the best advancements is its improved deep compositing abilities. “Six months ago when I started using the NUKE 9 data,” he says, “I just started loading a bunch of scripts side by side on two boxes and the render times are about twice as fast in NUKE 9 on our stuff.”

– Watch a breakdown of Ingenuity Engine’s VFX for a Western Digital spot. Deep compositing in NUKE 8 and also point cloud re-construction was used for the work.

“Deep is the area they’ve sped up the most,” adds Miller. “It was unusable in 8. It was very bad. You could load up a deep comp and it just took forever – the scanline just sits on top of the screen hanging out – is this working? In 9 it’s certainly not real-time responsive by any means, but it’s at least you can chug through the comp. With regular comps a 2x performance bump is certainly welcome but on the deep side of things it feels like a 10x performance bump. We’ll honestly use deep most of the time now.”

NUKE Studio in the pipeline: Ingenuity Engine has traditionally used Smoke for finishing, occasionally pushing things back to NUKE artists for fixes. Miller suggests that having NUKE Studio in the pipeline will certainly help in managing that process. “I’m excited to sit with NUKE Studio have the whole thing in the timeline and be able to mess around with the whole edit.”

Alex Fry – freelance visual effects supervisor

Alex Fry.
Alex Fry.

VFX background: Alex Fry is a visual effects supervisor and senior compositor with experience at Animal Logic on films such as The Great Gatsby and The LEGO Movie. He’s also worked at Rising Sun and Dr. D Studios and is currently a freelance compositor in Sydney.

Why NUKE Studio matters: “It’s a program I’ve wanted to exist for a long time,” states Fry. “Not since Tremor, way back in the old Shake days, has there been a full-on hardcore node compositor with a timeline and a play button that works. It’s been a long time but I’m glad it exists now. It just means you can use NUKE in ways you couldn’t use it before. If you were to start up a big facility right now you wouldn’t build all those ingest scripts and some kind of weird hack, you would start from NUKE Studio and build it up from there.”

Alex Fry talks to fxguide about NUKE in this video.

You can hear more from Alex on NUKE 9 and NUKE in general in a full length interview as part of the Background Fundamentals course over at

Looking to the future: As a major NUKE user, Fry notes that he is looking forward to continuing developments with the software, especially ones that might involve more support for spherical video – ie. for VR work. “There’s a lot of situations where you’re going to want to conform something with 6 or 14 different cameras in a timeline and bake them down into a single clip that you work on a spit out as a stereo project,” says Fry.

Ludo Fealy – visual effects supervisor, nineteentwenty

Ludo Fealy
Ludo Fealy

VFX background: Ludo Fealy is one of the founders of visual effects studio nineteentwenty, having previously worked at Rushes, Glassworks and MPC. Handling predominantly commercial work, nineteentwenty has collaborated with directors and agencies such as Jonathan Glazer, Michael Gracey, Seb Edwards, Chris Palmer, Saatchi and Saatchi, JWT and Adam and Eve.

“Our USP is the use of our Bristol office, where the majority of the work is done,” says Fealy. “The London and Bristol office are connected so that as shots are rendered in Bristol, they appear in the timeline in London, hence the excitement over NUKE Studio. We pass on the savings from having a Bristol office to our clients, whilst maintaining a high standard of quality.”

Looking forward to in NUKE 9: “The new Planar tracker is really cool, much improved,” notes Fealy. “I think that the whole area of camera tracking and planar tracking is what makes the difference in successful compositing today, and it looks like NUKE 9 is continuing with the high standards that it has set out on this area.”

He also identifies the ability to annotate onto clips in NUKE with a separate dedicated node as a key new feature. “It may sound like a trivial thing, but we use this style of communication a lot, so to have a simple solution built in is a bit of a God send for us.”

– nineteentwenty recently worked on this Canon spot for director Jonathan Glazer.

Using NUKE Studio: “We have used Nuke Studio on a couple of jobs, and we are itching to get it into our production pipeline permanently,” says Fealy. “It has so many good features, particularly those built into the timeline, that it will save us an enormous amount of time from start to finish. We made the decision when starting up nineteentwenty to use solely Foundry products, so we’ve been using HIERO/NUKE for about a year now. The guys at the Foundry worked really hard to get HIERO into a place where we could be confident about using it with a room full of clients, issues mainly to do with playback. NUKE Studio is the next natural step. One program, without any need for round tripping, that will version and deliver too. We can’t wait.”

Alex Fry, Grant Miller and Ludo Fealy are speaking at The Foundry’s NUKE 9 live event taking place on Tuesday, 21st October at 7.30pm British Summer Time.