Ben's Comp Newsletter: Issue 066


I hope you're doing well wherever you are in the world. Please enjoy this week's newsletter issue, covering a variety of topics.

Create better monitor comps with Pixel_Sweetener.

Monitor comps are the type of shot all Compositors do more than their fair share of. It's easy to planar track an image into where it needs to be, apply some defocus, plus some reflections back over top, and call it a day. Why not try to make the next one you do as detailed as it can be?

By pixellating your screen graphics using Pixel_Sweetener from Han Cao, and exposing bright & dark pixels correctly, you can add that next level of polish to your monitor comps.
Click here to download Pixel_Sweetener.

Quick Tip: Reusing Nuke's default icons.

When adding a new gizmo to a menu in Nuke, I like to recycle the existing icons so I can keep everything thematically consistent. However, these icons are buried inside Nuke’s install directory, and I always forget exactly where they live…

If you’re searching for Nuke’s default icons, you can find them here:

Linux: <Your studio’s Nuke install directory>/plugins/icons
Windows: C:\Program Files\Nuke12.1v4\plugins\icons
Mac: /Applications/Nuke12.1v4/
(Note: On Mac, you have to right-click the .app file and choose “Show Package Contents”. Only the vanilla Nuke has all the files, whereas other installs such as NukeX, non-commercial, etc. just point to the vanilla directory.)

 Don’t forgetNuke relies on these icons to function correctly, so if you’re modifying them for your own use, make sure you work with a copy outside of this folder.

However, if you just want to re-use these icons as-is, you’re able to access them programmatically by simply typing the name of the icon file (which is usually the same as the node’s name). For example, we can create a new menu using the FrameHold icon, and add an item to it that uses the Write icon like so:

Depending on the size & shape of the icon you want to create, I’ve found Rectangle, Constant and StickyNote provide a clean “background” to work with. Shuffle and Add will provide you with some nice RGB colour values.

A great, out of the box element browser.

Finding the perfect stock element to add into a shot is perhaps one of the more time-consuming tasks a Compositor endures. Having the ability to quickly browse through your elements and preview them is necessary for working efficiently -- thankfully smartElements exists as an out-of-the-box solution if you don't already have one.

Setting up your elements library is as simple as creating a new category in the UI, dragging and dropping elements from a file browser or importing selected Read nodes, and adding some comments to tag specific features. From there, finding the perfect element is as simple as a quick search!

While you can download a free trial, a site license for your studio is only $95 ($19 for an individual), which is a steal if you currently work without this type of flexibility.
Click here to read more, and download a trial.

Teaching computers to see through obstructions.

This demo provides real-world examples of this paper, showing a machine-learning-based method for removing foreground obstructions from plates. While humans are pretty good at this type of work, it's time-consuming and expensive to complete, so having a new option to speed up the process is quite welcome!

These types of tech demos usually show off an unrealistic perfect plate with perfect results. However, I appreciate that this one touches on some of the pitfalls that can be expected, and admits it's not perfect but instead "pretty good", showing a variety of example shots.

Behind the curtain of the reflection removal demos, this tool appears to generate a reflection AOV from the input plate and then subtracts it from the source. Having access to this kind of data has greater implications for Compositors beyond the originally-intended use of the tool...

If you'd like to give it a try, you can download the source code from GitHub here.

Cheers to Jeff Baldemoro for the tip.
Click here to watch the paper's demo video.
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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.
Aaron Bradford
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Anton Moss
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Ed Englander
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Fredrik Larsson
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Hugo's Desk
Ian Failes
Igor Gama
Igor Majdandzic
Ivan Sorgente
Jan Stripek
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Joshua Gluck
Julien Laperdrix
Kris Janssens
Lee Watson
Markus Gratl
Matthias Bäuerle
Micheal Liuyu
Michael Loithaler
Mikhail Shilin
Nikola Panic
Philip Edward Alexy
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Seth Weber
Shane Dooley
Shih Yi Peng
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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