Ben's Comp Newsletter: Issue 050
This issue of Ben's Comp Newsletter is a special one -- It marks the 50th issue, and two years of sending out useful, curated and created content to the global VFX community!
First, I love stats and wanted to share some with you. Ben's Comp Newsletter's readership grew 267% this year and support on Patreon skyrocketed by 633%! If you enjoy Ben's Comp Newsletter and want to keep it going, contributing a small amount every month is the best way to support the project.
As there have been so many new readers this year, this week's newsletter is a round-up of 2019's best & most popular tools!
Most downloaded tools.
SSMesh from MJ Tang provides a neat way to create geometry using position, depth or deep data.
DeepC, which is a suite of new Deep nodes for Nuke. It introduces extra flexibility into your Compositing workflow by providing more controllable grading & matte-creation options in Deep.
SpinVFX's Collection of Gizmos was generously released online for everyone to benefit from. There are plenty of useful gizmos in this package, including:
- Erode_Fine, which erodes an image with subpixel accuracy, as opposed to Nuke's default Erode node which can only erode full pixels.
- Morph_Dissolve, which allows you to morph between two moving plates.
Most popular tutorials.
Make A Custom Advanced Keyer Using ST Map by Erwan Leroy gives a brief but insightful look into how keyers work, and how we can create our own.
My Python for Nuke 101 course continues to be super popular -- thank you if you have already signed up! If you haven't, don't be left behind, and join lots of other Compositors in levelling up their skills!
Back to Basics: A Brief Lesson on Image Filtering & Node Concatenation. It's easy to take the fundamentals as a given, although every Compositor comes from a different background, has learned different things, etc. These concepts are super important to understand to maintain image fidelity as you comp!
Most popular interviews.
These interviews are always the highlight of Ben's Comp Newsletter each time they're shared. I've had the pleasure of connecting with so many knowledgeable people this year, who have all shared such valuable advice, that it's personally hard to choose any favourites. Thankfully, the readership statistics could determine this for me!
João Sita // VFX Supervisor
João is one of those rare people who is the trio of super talented, humble & incredibly inspiring all at the same time. His long and diverse career in VFX spans a variety of Commercials, TV and Film projects, and has taken him from his home country in Brazil, all the way to Canada, where he now works at Framestore Montréal.
MJ Tang // Senior Compositor
MJ Tang started working in visual effects in Hong Kong, circa 2003. Throughout his career, he has worked with a handful of different studios from RodeoFX to Atomic Fiction (now Method Studios), and is currently a Senior Compositor at ScanlineVFX in Montreal. He has provided our global Compositing community a ton of useful tools this year (including SSMesh, above), and provides a fascinating interview.
Falk Hofmann // Compositing Supervisor
"I am Falk Hofmann and a compositor for roughly a decade. Since a couple of years also TD and recently I joined RISE FX | Berlin as Compositing Supervisor. Besides that, I like to play around with my Raspberry Pies, occasionally writing Android apps and be outside in the garden. A personal aim is to bring these three together and enjoy them all at once."
I frequently revisit all of these interviews as they can offer different insights depending on where I'm at any given time.
Most popular articles.
This CG Cinematography Book, by Christophe Brejon de Lavergnée, is a free book, which provides an in-depth look at the theory and principles Christophe has learned spanning his 8-year career as (primarily) a lighter working in film & animation.
In his article, The Learning Curve – Chasing Stars, Xavier Martín shares his thought process behind learning & adapting to new technologies, and how that translates to a tradition of pushing his own boundaries and creating a new CG Sun every year. Super inspiring!
Back to Basics: Common errors when creating a gizmo, a recent article I wrote, highlights things to watch out for when creating new gizmos, so you can make them bulletproof!
Ben's favourite tools in 2019.
Whenever I, or someone on my team faces a problem in Nuke, I'm always excited about the opportunity to find new and creative ways to solve it! Luckily there are so many cool ideas out there, and I wanted to highlight the things I got the most excited about this year.
Stamps, created by Adrian Pueyo and Alexey Kuchinski, aims to change the way we work inside of Nuke. Instead of duplicating multiple copies of renders, cameras, etc. around your Nuke script, Stamps intelligently "links" to the original node in your script using a custom node with a hidden input.
apDespill, also created by Adrian Pueyo, has been my go-to despill node this year. The ability to pick a specific shade of green/blue, and accurately Despill it is a game-changer!
Lastly, something that has bugged me for years is how inefficient working with Deeps can be at most studios. A lot of this has to do with how large and clunky Deep files are, but the workflow of using them in Nuke also has a bunch of inefficiencies. This year, I created bm_SmartMerge to solve one of these workflow inefficiencies. It adds upon the existing m hotkey our muscle memory is used to, to intelligently detect whether you want to Merge, DeepMerge, DeepRecolor, or put a bunch of 3D objects into a Scene.
Wrapping up 2019 & lessons learned.
It's difficult for me not to enter a reflective state of mind in the last few weeks of each year. 2019 for me was all about embracing the saying, "you get out what you put in". I made a conscious effort to involve myself in as many meaningful projects as I could & help whoever I could along the way. As a result, I gained a great sense of fulfilment & had the most successful year of my career thus far!
Throughout this year, I learned some valuable lessons such as relying on motivation is bs, and how discipline & hard work can also have downsides too. "Working hard" shouldn't be the goal, "working thoughtfully" should be.
We've unfortunately seen too many rough times this year with large quantities of contracts not being renewed at some studios & studio-wide layoffs at others. It's a stark reminder that while we work with some amazing people and are lucky enough to form great bonds throughout the course of each production, loyalty at a company level is always one-sided. It's a hard lesson, but one that's worth storing in the back of your mind, as the responsibility for a fulfilling career is only in one person's hands -- yours.
Naturally, I will be elaborating on all of these topics in 2020's issues of Ben's Comp Newsletter for your benefit!
Lastly, to wrap up the year, Ben's Comp Newsletter has joined all the social channels! This year, I learned more about email spam filters than I thought I ever would. It's a shame to see spam filters picking up some issues of the newsletter and people missing them (please whitelist firstname.lastname@example.org & add to your email address book if you haven't already!), so to combat this I've joined Instagram, Facebook & Twitter so you can get your comp-related fix anywhere!
Of course, if you've stopped gaining value from reading Ben's Comp Newsletter, please unsubscribe using this link. The only thing I ask is that you let me know what you're missing, so this project can continue to improve & be better!
That's it from me for 2019 -- Ben's Comp Newsletter will return bigger and better next year. Issue 051 will be hitting your inbox on January 13th, 2020 (PST). Until then, take some time to switch off, not think about work, and enjoy time with friends & family.
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 global Compositing community? Please reply to this email, and I will do my best to include it in a future issue of this newsletter.
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Ben's Comp Newsletter: Issue 050
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