Ben's Comp Newsletter: Issue 061


I hope you're doing well and staying productive. This week, I've got a collection of some super interesting stuff to share with you!

Experiments with TimeBlur.

According to Foundry's documentation, the TimeBlur node was designed to mimic real-world motionblur. However, Chris Fryer has found an incredibly inventive use for the TimeBlur node; he's using sub-frame information from expressions to generate some interesting results, and has written about it on his blog.
Click here to read Chris' article, "Experiments with TimeBlur."

Quick Tip: Animate scene states, not knob values.

We’ve all had one of those shots where our CG animates through frame and needs to change from one lighting condition to another. Perhaps this is a character travelling from indoors to outdoors, flashing lights in a scene, or an object passing through atmospheric haze; it can come in many forms.

There are a few ways we can deal with these types of shots in Nuke. The most common solution I see is: Compositors animating lots of knobs on lots of nodes to match the lighting changes in the plate. However, this method quickly becomes inefficient as soon as your lighter renders a new version, as it means every keyframe needs to be tweaked and re-balanced. It also opens the door to more human error!

The optimal way to go about handling these shots is to set up static scene states for each lighting condition. What I mean by this is: find some hero frames in your shot where different lighting conditions are most prominent, and set up your comp separately for each individual lighting condition. Then you can simply animate one Dissolve node to transition between each state!

When lighting renders you some fancy new updates, or you get notes in dailies, you won’t have to scrape through plenty of nodes in your Nuke script to make sure every keyframe on every node looks correct. Instead, you simply polish the look on your hero frame, and your states animate predictably — the way they always have!

Speaking of states, I love Hagbarth‘s Nuke View Manager for quickly labelling and jumping between frames / scene states. You can download this tool from Mads' GitHub.


Speaking of Mads Hagbarth Damsbo's creationsQuickCreate provides a convenient way to convert a Viewer's colour sample box to all sorts of things. For example, it adds shortcuts to create a CornerPin, Crop, Keylight, etc.

Check out the tool in action in this demo video.
Click here to download QuickCreate from Nukepedia.

A scholarly approach to the Film vs. Digital discussion.

The debate about whether film or digital is better has been ongoing since, well, the invention of digital. Is the aesthetically pleasing look of capturing images on film worth giving up the convenience and flexibility of shooting digital?

Cinematographer Steve Yedlin, known for collaborations with Rian Johnson on films like Knives Out and The Last Jedi, has some incredibly interesting and informed views on this subject. He argues that no matter what format you shoot, there is always a necessary intermediate step of transforming that captured data to pixels, and that process can and should be manipulated by filmmakers to achieve their desired look.

This article provides a brief overview of the topic, however, I strongly recommend a deep dive into Steve's website for more technical, in-depth examples. Here are the top 3 resources I'd recommend you look at: Steve also has some fascinating thoughts on perceptual resolution vs. pixel count, and shares his insights in two Resolution Demo videos. He shines a light on pixel count being primarily a marketing tool, and how it's possible (and ideal) to have a perceptually sharper image at 2k vs. 6k!

Cheers to Simon Herden for sharing this with me.
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If you have any feedback on how this newsletter could provide more value to you or others, or just want to share your creations, please reply to this email -- I'd love to hear it all!
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Thanks to my Patreon Supporters.

This issue of Ben's Comp Newsletter is sponsored by Keegen Douglas.
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Thanks for reading!
This newsletter exists to encourage open communication and knowledge-sharing between the global Compositing community. 

My goal is to share the best gizmos, python scripts, workflow tips, and in-depth knowledge on compositing techniques, to help keep your toolset & skillset at the forefront of the VFX industry. I hope this newsletter keeps you prepared technically, creatively & mentally for any shot that passes through your hands.
- Ben McEwan