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I’ve been hem­ming and haw­ing for the last cou­ple of years since Black­magic De­sign ac­quired the com­posit­ing tool Dig­i­tal Fu­sion and re­branded it as Fu­sion. I’ve con­cluded that I’ve been wait­ing on this be­cause, out­side of the mind-blow­ing an­nounce­ment that there would be a free ver­sion and a pro­fes­sional ver­sion for un­der $1,000, there ac­tu­ally weren’t many ad­vances to dis­cuss.

This was my er­ror, be­cause Fu­sion does not and has not got­ten the recog­ni­tion it de­serves, and I should have been a voice — al­beit a small voice — to help along what is, in fact, an in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful com­posit­ing sys­tem.

I started com­posit­ing with Eyeon’s Dig­i­tal Fu­sion at Image­works way back in 1997 — yeah, back when Nuke was still pro­pri­etary un­der the roof of a vis­ual ef­fects house in Venice Beach named Dig­i­tal Do­main. I adopted Fu­sion for my own lit­tle ef­fects bou­tique for years. I also used it while at Blur Stu­dios and Un­charted Ter­ri­tory — both of which still use it in their pro­duc­tions. And they’ve done some pretty darn high-pro­file stuff. Not to men­tion that VFX guru Dou­glas Trum­bull ( 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close En­coun­ters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Mo­tion Pic­ture) has made it his com­pos­i­tor of choice as he con­tin­ues to push the tech­no­log­i­cal bound­aries with stereo and high frame rates.

For a rel­a­tively un­known prod­uct, it still has a pedi­gree.

So, why hasn’t it grown in leaps and bounds af­ter Black­magic ac­quired it? Well, Black­magic has been hard at work tack­ling a prob­lem that has kept the Fu­sion com­mu­nity so small: It was lim­ited to Win­dows. And now, as of Fu­sion 8, the plat­form has ex­panded to live on OSX — as both free and stu­dio ver­sions. And, hot on its tails, there is word of a Linux ver­sion (as a stu­dio ver­sion). Fu­sion for OSX opened up the user base to the mo­tion-de­sign houses that like their Macs. But I feel it will be the Linux ver­sion that opens the doors to the wide world of fea­tures films, whose VFX stu­dios al­most ex­clu­sively run on Linux.

I will keep you all ap­prised of fur­ther de­vel­op­ments from here on out. But let’s start the dis­cus­sion by say­ing that if you are a blos­som­ing com­pos­i­tor or a small one-man show do­ing free­lance work, Fu­sion is def­i­nitely a way to dive into ro­bust node-based com­posit­ing. The

PremierePr­o got a nice lit­tle boost with its lat­est up­date, which was an­nounced at NAB this year, but just re­cently went live.

The in­creased use of Ul­tra High Def­i­ni­tion footage like 4K and 6K com­pounded with the more fre­quent use of lap­tops and mo­bile de­vices by editors re­quire us to be a bit more dili­gent with our me­dia man­age­ment. So, Adobe has thrown in a process for eas­ily ingest­ing footage: copy­ing, transcod­ing and prox­i­fy­ing (is that a word?) footage all at the same time. When you drag footage from the Me­dia Browser into you project, your in­gest set­tings are en­acted and Me­dia En­coder be­gins to work in the back­ground to pre­pare the dif­fer­ent rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the footage. Better yet, the in­ges­tion can take place — get this — while you are edit­ing. You have im­me­di­ate ac­cess to the full res­o­lu­tion footage, and you can be­gin work while the prox­ies and such cook away. When in­ges­tion is done, you can swap to your other ver­sion at will. Also, you can save your set­tings as eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble pre­sets, and you can even set a water­mark for prox­ies.

The Lumetri color sys­tem has re­ceived some newer fea­tures that re­fine the abil­ity to con­trol and ma­nip­u­late color with sec­ondary HSL con­trols. You can iso­late par­tic­u­lar color ranges in your shots, and then shift the hues within that range. This pro­vides a re­ally in­tense level of con­trol over the col­ors in your scene. Frankly, it’s get­ting more and more like SpeedGrade isn’t even needed in the Adobe suite — yeah, you col­orists out there, I said it — as ig­no­rant as that prob­a­bly is.

And an­other larger fea­ture, amongst a laun­dry list of fea­tures and fixes, is in­cor­po­rat­ing 360-de­gree vir­tual-re­al­ity footage and edit­ing with it. Like the team over at Mocha Pro, look­ing into VR is look­ing into the fu­ture with so many un­pre­dictable pit­falls that I don’t even like to think about it. But as long as we’re here, let’s do it any­way. Be­cause edit­ing VR footage is a new beast. But Adobe has pro­vided tools for cut­ting the new footage to­gether — in fact, you can change your viewer so that you can see what the re­sult will look like — watch­ing the cut footage in a view that you can spin around in. Met­tle tools are avail­able to work within Pre­miere for ma­nip­u­lat­ing and con­vert­ing the 360-de­gree footage. And, as if that isn’t enough to wrap your head around, there are tools to view or sep­a­rate VR stereo­scopic footage. Yeah. Crazy, right? Any­way, keep your eyes on this tech­nol­ogy. I don’t know how it’s go­ing to play out, but we’re all learn­ing about it to­gether.

I’m gen­er­ally a vis­ual ef­fects and an­i­ma­tion per­son, do­ing things for films and stuff, so, out­side of cin­e­mat­ics and pro­mos for E3 and such, I haven’t re­ally dipped my toe into the game in­dus­try or the tools that sup­port it. But, I sup­pose it’s been long enough that I need to face the fact that our tech­nol­ogy is merg­ing as games be­come faster and higher fi­delity, the same tech­nol­ogy that drives that also ben­e­fits the artist in the post-pro­duc­tion world.

My first mini-re­view and in­stal­la­tion is for a thing called NeoFur. Well, tech­ni­cally, NeoFur is my sec­ond game in­stal­la­tion — be­cause I had to in­stall Unreal first. Then I could get to the NeoFur.

NeoFur perked up my ears be­cause I know how in­ten­sive hair and fur is when we have to cal­cu­late it for Rocket Rac­coon or Shere Khan or Richard Parker (maybe those are the same cats). So to see some­thing cal­cu­lat­ing fur in real time is some­thing wor­thy of at­ten­tion.

NeoFur is easy to in­stall, easy to learn and easy to use. Know­ing how hair works in VFX isn’t a bad thing ei­ther. The meth­ods are very sim­i­lar, but with the Unreal en­gine driv­ing things, the de­vel­op­ment and tweak­ing are in real-time. Any­one fa­mil­iar with any 3D pro­grams will slide right in and start mak­ing things. The in­ter­face feels like de­vel­op­ing ma­te­ri­als or shaders — driv­ing pa­ram­e­ters with maps or slid­ers. But ad­di­tion­ally you can use meshes to de­ter­mine the vol­ume of a hair struc­ture, and with con­trol splines con­trol the groom.

The physics en­gine dy­nam­i­cally and flu­idly moves the hair and re­acts to changes as you work with it. The char­ac­ter can even cy­cle through an­i­ma­tion to show you how the hair will work in mo­tion. And many of the NeoFur pa­ram­e­ters are open to Unreal’s Blue­print, so you can get cus­tom re­ac­tions driven by what might be hap­pen­ing in the in­ter­ac­tive plat­form.

Now, the fi­delity is nowhere near fea­ture film simmed and ren­dered hair. So don’t ex­pect to throw mil­lions of hairs through Unreal and main­tain re­spon­sive­ness. But that’s not the pur­pose of NeoFur. You are de­vel­op­ing sim­u­la­tions that work in game sit­u­a­tions, and with that comes a cer­tain struc­ture and econ­omy. And within those re­stric­tions, NeoFur per­forms in­cred­i­bly.

NeoFur is ab­so­lutely within the bud­get of peo­ple who just want to play around ($19), or a small de­vel­oper mak­ing an in­die game ($99), or if you are a larger game com­pany ($349 — or cus­tom pack­ages). Todd Sheri­dan Perry is a vis­ual-ef­fects su­per­vi­sor and dig­i­tal artist who has worked on fea­tures in­clud­ing The Lord of the Rings: The Two Tow­ers, Speed Racer, 2012, Fi­nal Des­ti­na­tion 5 and Avengers: Age of Ul­tron. You can reach him at todd@tea­spoon­

no pact with the Devil re­quired. The smartest in­vest­ment would be to score a Lim­ited Edi­tion copy of Cine­li­cious and Hat & Beard’s book, Bel­ladonna of Sad­ness: A Com­pan­ion to the 1973 Cult Ja­panese Anime Film, which comes pack­aged with the Blu-ray and good­ies and lets you re­ally pore over this en­chant­ing, un­ex­pected mind-bender that is both way ahead of its time and a unique win­dow on its age.

[Re­lease date: July 12] and bro­ken hearts), the DVD in­cludes “The Mak­ing of Only Yes­ter­day,” “Behind the Scenes with the Voice Cast,” in­ter­view with the dub team, and trail­ers and TV spots. The Blu-ray ver­sion ($34.98) also has exclusive fea­ture-length sto­ry­boards. Tis­sues and nos­tal­gia-sup­pres­sant not in­cluded.

[Re­lease date: July 5] the hu­man spirit.

The DVD and Blu-ray ($34.98) re­leases in­clude “The Mak­ing of Boy & the World” fea­turette, mu­sic video by Brazil­ian rap­per Emi­cida and theatri­cal trailer. Enough to tide you over while you wait for Abreu’s next stroke of in­no­va­tion.

[Re­lease date: July 5]

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