Nuke – How customizing, and python scripting made me enjoy using it

I have been using Nuke by the Foundry for a long time now as a freelancer.  Having used After Effects for a large majority of my career it took a while to fall in love with Nuke.  It was not the fact that Nuke was node based ( I had used Shake before) nor that it had a limited timeline, I just felt you had to spend a lot of time as a single user homing your gizmos, toolsets and to create the experience you personally wanted.  I started to enjoy using it once I got into doing this.  I started small,  just setting up node defaults in my  I progressed to adding a user tab to some nodes that automated certain actions, for example shuffle node to set all the RGBA channels to be all Red or Green.  My next step has been jumping into python.  I can not count the times I have been working on a job where at some point I have turned to someone and said ‘I wish this would work this way, or I know this could be sped up with a small bit of python’.  I joke with a good friend of mine Tim Bacon that we send Dear Mr. Foundry letters, pointing out why on earth does something work like this.  Well with python that can all change!

I had one of those conversations this week about something that was annoying me.  We are doing a lot of Nuke 3d and I felt it would be better looking in the node graph if the nodes spread around the scene node…and there it started.  I started to write something simple that would just place dots in an arc that had a start and end angle, then this moved into selecting some nodes and moving those into an arc.  If we move those though what about the nodes above?  Well we best move those into there new place also.  I soon realized that you might want the two angles not to go left to right, and you might want to reverse the order of the nodes.  This all works great as a function.  I have yet to make a dialog box to interface with it, but I could write a function that is attached to a shortcut to make it run in the GUI.  I realized that I would probably rather in this instance select my main node and have any nodes above that to move, and this is where I am at.  A weekend of coding and a nice tool to position my nodes.  I think it is just the start of this problem as pressing “L” in Nuke just does not cut it, it needs to be improved and I am sure it could be.  this is just the start of me writing python code to fix my day to day issues.  I am going to test this some more in production and once I get a GUI made to allow users to interface with all the options release the code.  I am sure the code is not pretty and could be improved but it does the job!  You can see a video below of it working.



Dancing Dissolve Tutorial

“Dancing what?? You say it’s an After Effects blend mode…I have never used it”
This is often the thoughts that comes to mind when dancing dissolve is mentioned. In this presentation I talk about a creative use I have found for the dancing dissolve blend mode. I demonstrate a method using it to age some footage. I should state that I do not explain much about the process of applying effects but more the idea and rough setup, seeding an idea for using this blend mode that can be adapted and pushed further to create a really nice aged film process all with in after effects.

I have got some more ideas along a similar line that I have tested to create other elements that are useful for aging film, look out for these videos soon to come.

Hopefully you’ll find this useful and some ideas spring to mind for further uses. Please comment and share.

Channel ID selection/ Color ID Passes in After Effects

I have been working more and more with compositing full on 3D adverts, and was quite happy extracting matte runs from so called ID passes with the usual methods that most people have seen online before, for example Channels – Shift Channels effect to move the green channel into the alpha.  When you have been given also Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow in the color channel things can get a little more tricky.  Some might be tempted to use the keying tools found in AE to extract the colors, other might extract the channels once, and then precomp to extract again to reach one of these other passes.  What I have proposed is using the Channel Mixer effect and some simple expressions to allow a slider that lets you flip between the 6 Channels.  This workflow also allows Masks to be drawn so you can further adjust the mattes that have been extracted.  I spent the time to set this up as an animation preset as it is much faster than building each time the effects needed to extract the channel you want, plus if you decide later to change the channel you want to use you have to adjust your work.  With the slider this is a breeze.  I found also if you stack various layers above each other you ought to set the transfer modes to Alpha Add this will tighten the alpha channel where there are joins.  This is normally due to anti aliasing on the edges

You can download the animation preset from here and also watch a demonstration of how you might deal with color ID passes, starting with ones that just contain red, green, and blue moving onto all 6 colors (the extras being Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) I finish with the animation preset being used.

I hope this preset is useful to speeding up your work, and becomes something you use frequently I know myself I do.

Download the ColorID pass slider animation preset – click here
Follow this link to see the video tutorial and how to use the preset


Windows 64bit and Quicktime problems

I recently got a new system for my work, and for the first time I am running a 64bit operating system.  Now I have been using 64bit on many machines at various studios that I have worked at, one thing always annoyed me was QT being broken in firefox.  You may have seen videos playing and no seek bar, or play/pause buttons, only a black strip along the bottom.  You can click in that area still but you will be working blind and could be hitting any button.  I was told from friends that it is just because there is not a version for 64bit Windows, and it is broken.  Well for me running 64bit, it being broken is not good enough :-P.  I had read of alternatives to quicktime, and I do use of players VLC, Mediaplayer classic for example, but when you are watching videos in the browser you really want it working correctly.

I got thinking why not run my browser in compatibility mode, then maybe the QT plugin will think it is in a 32Bit OS and work as I expect.  This work around does indeed work 😀 SUCCESS!!

For those out there who have not seen or adjusted the settings I have spoke about above I recommend that you check out the screencast I have made.  I am thinking that this method would work for any other instances where QT is not playing nicely in 64bit.

Click here to watch the screencast