PRICE Free or $299 for the Studio Version | Company Blackmagic Design | Website www.blackmagicdesign.com
Is it a worthwhile upgrade?
With Fusion 9, which Blackmagic Design first released during Siggraph earlier this year, much more has been updated than a port to another OS. There are new planar and camera trackers, a new colour difference keyer, GPU acceleration, Apple-licensed encoding to Prores on both Windows and Linux, and even a VR toolset. Perhaps most excitingly – especially for those indie production companies out there – there’s also been a very competitive price drop for the full Fusion Studio from $995 to $299 per seat.
Going to any CG event over the past few years, you can see how much of an impact VR has, so it was interesting to see Fusion 9 announced with a toolset specifically for virtual reality projects. With it, users have access to a full 360-degree 3D workspace along with a new panoramic viewer and support for popular VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Having a proper stereoscopic VR camera built in means you can simply plug it into a 3D merge node and suddenly, if you’ve got a headset and a suitable GPU, you can work directly in the VR environment within Fusion in real time.
While VR in Fusion does present an exciting novelty, for many VFX artists the more immediately useful tools will be the planar and camera trackers. In Fusion 8 there was some tracking ability, like the capacity to track a pattern rectangle or search area, but version 9’s trackers are more efficient, accurate and professional tools that can create a massive impact on daily work.
The planar tracker is quick to set up with consistent results and allows users to track subjects and regions in a live-action scene for anything from corner pinning an image to stabilising footage.
Meanwhile, the new camera tracker analyses the motion of a live-action camera, then reconstructs the identical motion within Fusion using a 3D motion path. Users can change camera settings such as focal length and aperture within Fusion to better reflect real-world cameras and modify individual track errors after the solve is complete to ensure that the results are as accurate as they can possibly be.
With my tests on an NVIDIA K6000 GPU, Fusion 9 calculated solves in real time, even with tricky shots involving foliage in a forest – great news for anyone, particularly small outfits like mine, who wants to achieve
“THE PLANAR TRACKER is quick To SET up WITH Consistent RESULTS AND Allows USERS To TRACK SUBJECTS AND Regions in A live-action Scene”
exterior shot composites without having an extra person running around on set sticking gaffa tape to trees first!
Another very useful new feature for Fusion 9 is the delta keyer. With the delta keyer, users can plug in footage, pick a colour using a normal colour picker and achieve a clean key while preserving fine image detail like hair. There are matte finesse controls, which can blur the edge of the key, for example, to refine this further.
Last but not least is Studio Player, which Blackmagic have introduced as a replacement for Fusion’s previous standalone app, Generation. Integrated into Fusion’s preexisting bin system, Studio Player has been built for multi user collaboration with a playlist, storyboard and timeline for playing back shots, along with options to track version history, display annotation notes and more.
There is definitely a lot to love about Fusion 9 from the overall workflow to the new tools and, considering that the studio version has come down to such a fantastically low price, there really isn’t any reason for a serious artist not to take a look, no matter what field they work in.
Having multiple viewers helps focus on task specific attributes while keeping an eye on the end result
the interface is clean and logical but allows for customisation to suit any given workflow or project