Autodesk User Group and Party Podcast

Wrap up of Sunday’s user group and our first NAB 2007 podcast, a “Live” podcast from the Autodesk Pool Party at Caesar’s Palace. Let me tease you with these words – Standard Filesystem Volume. Not enough? How about batch in Smoke… or multilayer timeline in batch?

Autodesk tried something new this year – a shorter (90 minute) user group meeting. It was fast faced and focused and packed with lots of great new features across all the products. We’ll cover the highlights in this article and then in the podcast we talk with several members of the Autodesk team. There are some big items in the later part under technology demo!

Marc Petit starting things off after a very well done show reel – there was great work on there and assembled very well.

The first demo was designed to show interoperability. They had a Conform, a Smoke, a Flame, and a Lustre. They digitized from VTR on the Conform, but wrote directly to the Smoke framestore. Then Lustre connected via wiretap, did a grade and rendered the result back to the Smoke framestore. This was all done seamlessly using Infiniband as the networking technology. The system they used to present this to the crowd was very slick, they could display thumbnails at the bottom of the projection screen with each system live, then zoom any one full screen or split the screen into two, three or four ways. At one point they had 4 machines all playing the same clip from the same framestore in real time in a split screen and all four maintained playing without errors.

Lustre Color Management

Philippe Soeiro did a quick introduction to a new color management process that was done as a collaboration with ARRI.



Chris Vienneau called Toxik “Maya’s best friend” and then led a demo that bounced between Maya and Toxik. Showed some cool stuff in Maya 8.5 with semi-rigid objects and playing with the rigidity and pressure controls – the example they showed was a car that they switched out the materials for cloth. Then they were able to raise the rigidity, take some geometry from the scene (a rock) and bash in the car… then use pressure to blow and lift he car. These multi-pass openEXR renders were then opened in Toxik for final comping.

Showed a new “Modulated Blur” node and a “Vector Blur” node for adding better motion blur using the data from Maya. Also a new Lens tool and grain mangement.

The Technology Demo

Autodesk did the now standard crowd pleasing “technology demo” – this is always preceded by the usual disclaimer that these features are NOT in the release now and may or may not make it into future releases. Everything listed here was shown as part of the technology demo and should be viewed as such – we may see these things next week – or never.

Started showing some gorgeous images were shown in HD 60P captured from a new Sony deck that apparently plays this new format, HDCAM, DigiBeta.

16 x 9 UI

Here is a cool one – redesign of the User Interface to be 16×9 instead of 3×4 – way more screen real estate – a major UI upgrade. Finally get to use those grey areas on left and right and it looks, at a quick look, that there is some good use being made of this space.

07Apr/nab/timelinebatchAnd back to interoperability… Flame and Smoke are destined to share projects more and more so…. this is big… MULTILAYER TIMELINE IN BATCH…. and how about BATCH IN SMOKE? Designed so there is 100% setup and clip compatability between the products. This was elegantly done. You can promote a soft timeline effect to an action setup. They will merge DVE and action to provide compatability and give flame users a DVE layer object.

They showed a new preference per clip as to how media acts on a timeline… does it act as it does now that it holds the last frame or would you prefer that layer become inactive when video runs out (like After Effects).

07Apr/nab/dupeA new magic node called Duplicate that builds layered expressions automatically for instance type effects.

A few new batch nodes for Flame were demoed. Motion Analysis creates a 16 bit float image that is the data of a motion analysis. This can be fed into a Vector Viewer node to see little arrows map out the motion – and a new Motion Bour node that uses that data to do motion blur. Same as Toxik. And there will be a Mental Ray shader as well.

Standard Filesystem Volume

That is not a typo (!) – you will NOT HAVE to use Stones for storage. This is Huge for Flame and Smoke users. The Filesystem Volume will behave like a Stone used to, with wiretap and all.


Philippe came back to talk about FBX – some may recall he recently explained some of their problems on flame-news with FBX and promised thet were working on it. He showed samples with a long list of things that will work when that work is complete. He made the point that they are in the same building as the FBX team so they have no excuse.



Started by pointing out that all nominated films for Cinematography last year in the Oscars were graded using Lustre.

07Apr/nab/lustreTLLustre is going to get it’s own multilayer timeline. You can conform to a layer so if a new sequence of visual effects shots for example come in with an EDL you can conform them right into place on a new layer. You can then select which layer is active, so keeping older versions or grades is simple.

There is a new colorist timeline option – where it disables any ability to move a clip in time – greys the optins right out, to avoid changing an edit by mistake.

Showed new use of GPU with HD 10biit playing with 9 secondaries and 5 plug-in effects – while still remaining real time playback.

Shape tracking…. showed two demos – first he just drew a shape around the guy on the bike and it automatically figured out that was what you wanted followed. The second one was more impressive as it followed the guys face and even dealt with when he was partially occluded by foreground actors.


Toxik had a technology demo too… Grain Management, Image Infielding (for dust or wire removal), working with 3D Studio Max getting multichannel open EXR files. In Toxik you can remap any of the multichannels to R, G, B or A.

A new bicubic tool in Toxik and a python based tool in Maya 8.5 to drive Toxik.


Then it was off to the pool and the fxguide cabana. The cabana poolside was our home base right in the midde of the party. We talk to a bunch of long time flame users about their experiences over the years as well as getting the direct scoop from key Autodesk people.

Special thanks to the fxphd post grads who helped us manage the madness at the cabana, and to Jimmy our hard working editor, to Autodesk for letting us podcast the party and our two sponsors – Genarts and Sohonet.

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