I woke up this morning to find that Blackmagic Design has released a free version of Fusion. Blackmagic has a history of aggressively reducing prices of their products, they're a very disruptive company in this way. If you look at the pricing of their cameras and how they've handled Resolve once they purchased it, you'll see the pattern.
There are now two version of Fusion, Fusion 7 which is free and Fusion Studio which costs $995. Fusion 7 is limited to Ultra HD resolution (which I'm guessing is 4K?) and has Stereo, Optical Flow, Network Rendering and Generation stripped out of it.
It's a very compelling package and price. It's a dramatic move, but as a product it needed some dramatic moves in order to gain market share. I just get a bad feeling when a company cuts prices this deep, products that don't generate a lot of revenue don't have a history of sticking around for long. Look at when Autodesk bundled Toxik and Softimage with Maya and 3DS Max. Now, this isn't the same situation, but it's similar enough to make me think.
To their credit, this move will likely make me download it at home, and perhaps get a copy installed on my workstation at the studio. I used Fusion for years when I worked at CORE, although I haven't touched it since 2009. I remember when they were putting in so many resources and new tools into the 3D workspace and at the time I was thinking; 'I don't need this 3D stuff, I need a keyer that's really good'.
To me, that was the biggest difference between Fusion and Nuke (in 2009 when I switched). While Fusion was developing shaders and very nice 3D rendering (for a compositing package), Nuke offered very intuitive projection setups and 3D tools like Reconcile 3D and Points to 3D which I would use very often. I never found myself wishing for a better 3D renderer, but I often find myself wanting the core tools to work faster and better.
For the comp work that I do, I don't need to use 3D to generate renders, I need 3D that helps me with tracking and placement of elements. Would love to hear from artists who disagree with me, just to know if I'm missing something.
And who is Blackmagic fooling with the pictures on their website? I don't know anyone who comps sitting up straight like that. Everyone I know comps slouching down as if they're going to slide under the table ;)
Douglas Trumbull on the Future of Cinema
One of the nice things about living in downtown Toronto is that the Toronto International Film Festival runs programming all year. Right now they’re in the middle of a Kubrick retrospective, and as part of that they invited Doug Trumbull to present his latest movie. Trumbull is probably best know for being one of the FX artists on 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Trumbull has long been an advocate for higher frame rates and large resolution formats. In the 80’s he came up with a 60 frames per second, 70mm film projector called Showscan which never took off.
TIFF brought Trumbell in for a special presentation of his latest short film, UFOTOG. It was shot in 4K stereo at 120 frames per second. I thought that the film itself was kind of uneven, but the tech used in the presentation was interesting. There was a special projector brought in which was very bright. Watching the film it didn’t suffer from the dimming that usually accompanies 3D films. I’ve never seen 4K projected in a theatre, and it did make a difference. The sharpness was quite stunning.
As for the frame rate, I guess I’m old fashioned, but I didn’t enjoy it. It was the nicest stereo I’ve ever seen, but I just didn’t find it that compelling. It was too real. I found myself looking at the pores on the actor’s skin more than the performance.
From a selfish point of view I hope this doesn't take off. VFX is hard enough without multiplying the frame rate by five, doubling the resolution and dealing with stereo.
Al Franken use to be a writer on Saturday Night Live, and it’s no surprise that he was reelected to the US Senate with commercials like this. Great communicator.