NUKE 8 is coming: here’s what you need to know

A new version of The Foundry’s flagship product will be shipping in 2013, with the company announcing at IBC that NUKE 8 is set for launch later this year. The Foundry’s timeline tool for NUKE, HIERO, will also be upgraded to version 1.8 this year.

fxguide speaks exclusively to NUKE Product Manager Jon Wadelton about the changes – see below. But first, just what are the main upgrades in NUKE 8?

New Dope Sheet functionality.
New Dope Sheet functionality.

Dope Sheet – artists will be able to see and move keys around in the context of a timeline style view. They will be able to see the results and each property of a node accurately displayed in context. The Foundry says the new viewing capability will make working with any scripts that involve time manipulation a much more simple process.

New Text node – lets artists compose, edit and animate directly in the viewer.

Color grading and correction – the NUKE UI has been updated to include an in-panel color wheel to control hue, saturation and value, with an automatic precision mode or optional absolute mode for finer tweaking. There’ll also be a new Pixel Analyser and a Match Grade node.

New scope tools – can be used to analyse the picture like Waveform, Vectorscope and Histogram viewers.

Camera Tracker – this is being updated to add to add to the set solve functionality and will let artists track and solve cameras from reference stills. The Model Builder will also feature UV creation.

Camera Tracker.
Camera Tracker.

New 3D tools – includes Viewer Capture to allow users to flipbook images from the 2D and 3D Viewer, a new Edit Geo node, a Particle Cache node and the Wireframe Shader node for various visual effects and increased control over projection mapping.

Deep Output to the Scanline Renderer – part of the Deep Compositing workflow.

Open source – OpenEXR 2.0 multi-part image read and write support and Alembic 1.5 support.

In-context help system – this is a new feature for NUKE 8.

Developer tools – developers will be able to write their own image processing operations inside of NUKE using the new Blink Script node, which utilizes the GPU. Developers will also be able to rely on the new Import NUKE function to use NUKE as a module in any Python interpreter, and developers of C++ plugins will be able to output planar data via the new Planar Rendering Framework.

HIERO updates – changes include improved playback performance, color handling controls, and editing audio controls that will give users access to Per Track and Per Item Volume Controls.

NUKE Product Manager Jon Wadelton on NUKE 8

fxg: The Text node – how far will this go in allowing NUKE a greater role in solving graphic design style projects. Is this a stepping stone or do you believe you have a killer text node now?

Wadelton: We are really happy with the capabilities of the new Text tool. We believe it will make most graphic design projects much easier than before. We have common features such as typing in the viewer with cut/copy/paste, per character kerning, per character transform animation, group animation and more. It’s a huge step forward from the previous tool, but of course we never rest in the NUKE team so no doubt it’s still not the final iteration of the tool and it will evolve further in the future.

WireFrame Shader node.
WireFrame node.

fxg: The issue of colour grading has been a big deal for some time now with the Foundry not having a colour grading option. NUKE is aimed more at a shot than an entire edit…so how do you see this being used? Is this a path forward for HIERO – to adopt GPU colour grading?

Wadelton: We’re certainly making NUKE and HIERO work much more closely together. NUKE 8 for instance has adopted all the colour scopes tools from HIERO. We have been playing around with the idea of the reverse of this which we will be showing in our IBC The Foundry Labs demo this week.

As for the updated grading and colour correct tools in NUKE 8, we still see that as something you’d use to match individual elements or plates. We have a much more friendly colour wheel interface for all the colour tools, the new match grade tool, colour analysis scopes and options such as maintain luminance on the hue-correct and more.

fxg: How does the new Match Grade node compare to the old Furnace MatchGrade and/or the match grading algorithms of OCULA?

Wadelton: The new match grade allows you to analyse a sequence to give you a stable LUT that will grade one plate to match another. This differs to the old match grade that could only generate a grade from one frame. The new match grade also has options to export to the LUT to a file (e.g csp, cube etc). The algorithm has also been updated since the original furnace MatchGrade based on research used in OCULA.

ViewerCapture node.
ViewerCapture node.

fxg: The NUKE Camera tracker…any interest in accessing the i/tech (i/tech squared) data from Cooke and other lens companies being shown at IBC? PF Track will access the inertial guidance data and of course lens data/zoom etc

Wadelton: We have discussed accessing more camera metadata with Cooke and some camera manufacturers. This data could be used to lock off or restrict parameters to improve the camera solve. So it’s something we’re looking into for the future.

fxg: How much will the Particle Cache node speed up rendering? Have you benchmarked it?

Wadelton: The particle cache can considerably increase render speed and increase interactivity in a heavy script. The node caches out the particle simulation to disk. So once the artist is happy with the simulation it can be committed to disk eliminating the simulation time from overall render time.

Depending on how heavy the simulation is, this can save considerable time. It also really helps in the render farm situation where independent render slaves are each rendering a frame each. Without the cache these slaves would need to ‘run up’ the simulation to the frame that they are rendering, with the cache this is not necessary.

Above: NUKE Product Manager Jon Wadelton outlines the new features in NUKE 8.

fxg: Can you expand on what you can now do in the EditGeo node that you could not do before please?

Wadelton: The EditGeo node is a new node that allows you to move vertices and faces of geometry flowing down the node graph. It can save a round trip to a 3D application when your geometry is not quite right. For instance you are doing a projection and the geo and some verts are not quite in the right position. With the EditGeo you can quickly correct this in the comp.


fxg: Could you explain for people who don’t know what the Planar Rendering Framework is please?

Wadelton: It’s a new API for C++ developers who need to develop Planar or Tile based rendering plugins. NUKE is a scan-line based render system but not all algorithms fit to this style of rendering. Developers who need to render in tiles or planes can use the API rather than writing their own system to convert from scan-lines to tiles. The advantage for developers is much reduced complexity for implementing tiled rendering along with NUKE taking care of all the memory management. NUKE internally now uses this API for tile based rendering such as OFX, Blink based nodes and EXR files that are compressed into tiles. For the artist this will give them speed increases, reduced memory use, and more stability.

fxg: Could you discuss the adoption and success for Deep Comp pipelines that has lead to the scan-line Deep Output please?

Wadelton: Deep comp is becoming more widely used across film pipelines worldwide especially since more renders are starting to support the Deep EXR 2.0 format. A good example was MPC Vancouver’s work on Life of Pi for which they won them the VES outstanding compositing in a feature motion picture last year. That sort of shot would have been very difficult and time consuming without the deep compositing tools at the artist’s disposal. Part of the feedback we’ve had is that it would be great to integrate NUKE 3D elements into an existing deep scene, whether that be the NUKE particle system or just simple 3D elements to act as holdouts. That’s what we’ve added in NUKE 8. The NUKE internal scan-line render can now produce deep data directly to integrate with your existing deep elements.


fxg: How extensive has the beta process been? When can people download NUKE 8?

Wadelton: We have been in closed beta for several months and the feedback has been really positive. We will be opening this up very soon.

fxg: The Dope Sheet is a great advance – can you discuss the user feedback – from Beta or other – that shaped its development please?

Wadelton: NUKE has always had powerful procedural ways of moving and retiming elements around in time. The feedback we had was that you were very much shooting in the dark as to where all your elements had been moved to, so you could get lost fairly easily. The new dope-sheet solves this by showing all the keys and all the elements at their time shifted locations in a context sensitive way. So if you view keys before a node that moves them in time, you see them at their original time. If you view after the time manipulation, you also see them where they’ve been shifted too.

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