Yesterday The Foundry announced features that would be included in the next version of Nuke. The two main features that they're touting are 'Smart Paint' and a 'Ray Render' node which is a new renderer that will use Raytracing.
The Foundry previewed Smart Paint back at Siggraph and live streamed a video showing examples of its use. It uses motion vectors to drive deformations and tracking of paint strokes. To achieve similar results I would have to attach Spline Warp pins to trackers, so I'm excited to see any tools that will speed up my workflow. Of course, I'm more interested to see how far this can be pushed before it breaks. Seeing it on demo footage is one thing, using it on shots is another.
I remember using Nuke's paint when I first starting using it (somewhere around version 5, after The Foundry bought it and refreshed it's UI) and I was shocked at how bad the paint was. I was used to Combustion's paint system, which in my opinion, was the last good desktop compositing paint software. Nuke's was a huge step backwards. Version 6 brought the paint system as we know it today (in terms of features). It was a huge improvement from V5, but it was plagued by dog-slow performance and stability issues. I think it has been rewritten again after that (maybe multiple times, I can't remember exactly but I think I remember talk around Nuke 7 that RotoPaint was rewritten to produce smaller files).
Even though it's been much improved since Nuke 6, I still avoid Nuke's paint unless I have no choice. I'm hoping that Nuke 10 will change that.
Adding Raytracing to Nuke's 3D system is interesting. The Foundry have been showing raytracing inside of Nuke for a while with their VR suite of tools that are still being developed. I've wanted the option of having at least one-bounce raytracing to produce accurate reflections for a long time. Being able to produce ambient occlusion passes is interesting as well. They mention that this will reduce memory overhead and also make more accurate motion blur. My main concern is if this will slow down my comps. Nuke's 3D system seems to be showing it's age, whenever I bring in semi-heavy geometry it slows down a lot. I think the whole 3D engine needs to be refreshed to allow for heavier assets.
I was relatively happy with the updates to Nuke 9, there was a focus on adding tools that the average compositor uses on a regular basis. The new Kronos has been a lifesaver for me, (the updated Planar Tracker, not so much. I still use Mocha when I need to planar track something, I still find Nuke's a bit jumpy). I find it so useful whenever they focus on improving the tools that I use every day. Hopefully that continues with this latest update.
Very nice compositing demo reel by Toronto artist Guillermo Ramos.