Ben's Comp Newsletter: Issue 023


Here is your bite-sized chunk of comptastic knowledge for the week. I hope these tools & tips save you some time & energy!

Quick Tip: If you've done it more than twice, template it!

Classic financial advice tells us, "to save a dollar, you first have to save some cents". The same can be said about your time. Those extra few clicks per shot might only cost you 5 seconds. Although 3 shots per day = 15 seconds per day = 1 minute, 15 seconds per week = 1 hour, 31 minutes and 15 seconds per year. Share that with your 10-person compositing team, and the results are obviously ten-fold! The numbers add up quickly, so as you can see, it pays dearly to create your own tools & save time and clicks wherever you can!

My rule of thumb is as the title says: If I do something more than twice, I know I need to template it. Templating could mean a collection of nodes that I save as a toolset (e.g. a 3D projection setup on a ground plane), or it could mean creating a gizmo to automate a particular effect (e.g. an exponential glow, made up of lots of Blur nodes).

This advice isn't limited to Toolsets or Gizmos. It also extends to setting knob defaults via your For example, if you find you're always adjusting your Blur node's value to 10, why not set that as a default, and save some manual labour!

Do you have a unique way you save time every day? Please let me know!


Every studio has that one awesome atmospheric smoke element that's 1000+ frames long, and has characteristics that you just can't find in the rest of the elements library. But adding atmosphere to your shot is never as easy as just slapping one element in and calling it a day...

I found a tool, created by Simon Bjork, which simplifies the process of grabbing random clips of time from that one brilliant element, so you're able to rapidly prototype your shot. sb_RandomTimeOffset can be run on a selection of TimeOffset nodes, and asks you for a minimum and maximum value to be sure you constrain your elements' frame range to the usable area.

If you need to place each of the element's instances in 3D space, consider using a simple Nuke Particle setup to randomly place them!
Click here to download sb_RandomTimeOffset

Wiener Deconvolve

After you've finished giggling at the name, think about potential uses for tools like this! Wiener Deconvolve is a tool written by Jeremy Peacock, which uses the Wiener filter to un-defocus your image.

From Wikipedia, "The goal of the Wiener filter is to compute a statistical estimate of an unknown signal using a related signal as an input and filtering that known signal to produce the estimate as an output". 

The results aren't perfect, but given how complex this problem is to solve, I think it's doing quite a good job! It's a great solution for shots where you may have to reduce how defocused your plate is (removing defocus completely and then re-adding a smaller amount would ensure you don't see any artefacting).

Click the button below to head over to Nukepedia, and read more about how this tool is working, alongside a couple more example images...
Click here to download Wiener Deconvolve on Nukepedia.

Free PDF of The VES Handbook of Visual Effects

This book, now in its second edition, is a great reference whether you're just starting out, or already have some experience in VFX and want to know more. If you're interested in taking a look but would prefer not to fork out the money, you're in luck; The first edition is now available online, for free!

I know you're curious what the second edition covers that the first edition excludes, so I pulled a list from the VES' website to explain:
  • On-set stereography
  • The Academy Color Encoding System (ACES)
  • Whether to shoot or convert to 3D
  • Virtual productions
  • Editorial workflow in an animated feature
  • 3D matte painting
  • General geometry instancing
If you find the downloadable first edition version of this book useful, I encourage you to buy the second edition, and support the writers who gave their time to write this book!
Download the First Edition of The VES Handbook of Visual Effects here!

Did you find this newsletter informative?

Have you created, or do you know of any outstanding Gizmos, Python Scripts or Tutorials that you would like to share with the community? Please send me an email, and I will do my best to include it in a future issue of this newsletter.

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Premium Contributor: Seb Tran
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