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View Full Version : What do folks think of the compositor in XSI?


Anthony Thorne
09-01-2004, 03:02 AM
I'm just curious what the general consensus (if there is one) seems to be about XSI's Advanced's compositor. How does it compare to lower-level software like Adobe After Effetcs and higher-level software like Shake? Does Shake have any particular features that XSI's compositor can't match? Does anyone have a preference towards one compositing app over another, or is it strictly YMMV depending on a user's aims and skills?

I just thought I'd ask the question as I'd like to move beyond After Effects for some future compositing (along with a matchmover app like SynthEyes) and while Shake is enticing it occurs to me that I can save the price of Shake and a requisite G5 if I just follow the workflow offered by XSI Advanced. Thanks for any comments!

bravmm
09-01-2004, 03:20 PM
The FXTree cannot directly be compared to AE or Shake. Most of this comes from the fact that it is tigthly integrated within the workflow of XSI. You can render your passes, import these directly in the FXTree, or go vice versa and create a tree and pipe that endeffect back into a material for an object, particles etc. Animated or not. In v4 you can (vector)paint options, tracking, mattes, post FX (3.x as well) etc.

Comparing it it would look more like Shake or Digital Fusion in that matter, workflow wise. Like all apps you don't have some features the other apps have and vice versa.
If you don't have XSI yet I would recommend just download the EXP version and test it. It's the only way you can see if you like the app, the workflow and in this case the compositor.

Hope this helps,

cheers,

rob

tsupka
09-01-2004, 03:57 PM
the only real advantge of fxtre is a thight XSI integration, renderpasses e.t.c.
for general compositing fx tree lack a lot of usefull features of Shake and AE (keylight keyer for examle) and it's not fast enought, and in practise hasn't plugin support (tinder or saphire for examle)
but if compositing isn't your everyday task and don't need a complex fx, fxtree is relatively good and can be used in production

tredeger
09-01-2004, 06:33 PM
softimage will be the first to admit that the fxtree is not *yet* a complete replacement for a dedicated compositor like Shake. But, it points to the future for sure. And it does things today that you just can't do elsewhere (as discussed in the above posts).
The thing that's really most exciting is the tight integration with XSI, something that can't be overemphasized. What makes it powerful is how dramatically this can affect your workflow--not only are there things that you can do here that you can't do elsewhere, there are things you can do here quickly and easily that would be incredibly time consuming and labor intensive to do outside of the program with a traditional compositor. Therefore, you'll start doing things that were possible but impractical. Or you'll start doing more of the previously slow processes quickly.
You can also easily replace a ton of render intensive effects with fxtree compositing "cheats" that are much faster and computationally cheaper which would be a pain in a separate compositor. You also get more flexibility--Soft shows this off with the example of linking a fxtree driven motion blur effect to the camera. It will update precisely and automatically if you later go back to your scene are change the camera settings, position, focus length, etc.
Expect this aspect of the program to make great strides in future versions, adding great value to the platform and realize that the current incarnation is not only worth learning and understanding, but can contribute true benefits to your workflow today. Hope this helps.

cheers,
Jazz

Anthony Thorne
09-01-2004, 11:08 PM
A lot of good advice there! Thanks everyone.

Foot
09-02-2004, 04:20 AM
One question about the compositor of immediate concern to me is:

Does it have compression features for the final rendered movie?

bravmm
09-02-2004, 07:40 AM
It's best not to compress for final output, but render to an uncompressed format, AVI or QT for Windows, and choose youre codec from there, e.g. MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MOPEG-4 , DIVX, XVID. You'll be better off, if you want to compress to several codecs in one go.
For what's it worth, I avoid compression as long as I can, even when rendering the final movie. I always do it afterwards.
But to come back to the question, you can output to stills, avi and/or qt, and in there you can set codec preference and compression.

Hope this helps.

rob

Atyss
09-02-2004, 08:45 AM
Tight integration with XSI? Sorry but I need some englightenment here. What are the so integrated features, beside the fact that you can load the passes from the scene, you can save the fxtree with the scene, and that you have clipin-clipout features? As far as I can tell, beyond those thing, there is nothing different from an external app, just that you don't have to do the work outside of XSI....


Thanks
Bernard

francescaluce
09-02-2004, 11:42 AM
well check out for example the guy rabiller tut about pixel component parser and the way to get 2Dlighting computed and updated in the fxtree when changing your scene.. you'll generally see that using a bit of brain and immagination you have a tight integration with xsi.




ciao
francesca

Foot
09-02-2004, 12:35 PM
It's best not to compress for final output, but render to an uncompressed format, AVI or QT for Windows, and choose youre codec from there, e.g. MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MOPEG-4 , DIVX, XVID. You'll be better off, if you want to compress to several codecs in one go.
For what's it worth, I avoid compression as long as I can, even when rendering the final movie. I always do it afterwards.
But to come back to the question, you can output to stills, avi and/or qt, and in there you can set codec preference and compression.

Hope this helps.

rob
Yes that helps me very much. (When I have my final movie rendered and ready to go, I will need to fit it on a CD or two with all of my other scene info and textures to turn in for class at the end of the semester).

DougNicola
09-02-2004, 04:19 PM
Isn't this what they mean about tight integration: changing any parameters of your fxtree nodes by connecting (through links, expressions, scops...) parameters directly to any parameters in your XSI scene? It is so easy!

Ablefish
09-02-2004, 04:32 PM
I was also able to convert the 2D tracker info into a camera move. That'd be tough with an external ap.

DougNicola
09-02-2004, 08:53 PM
Actually I think the XSI compositor is pretty dang incredible! The flexibility it offers, and ease of use, is just astounding.

Here's a little test I threw together in about 30 minutes. Starting with just a slightly squashed blue sphere with a simple lambert material (no transparency, glows or nothin!), I made a movie of a ufo flying across the night sky:

Ufo movie (http://www.dougnicola.com/XSI_UFO_Comp.mov) - 460k quicktime. Everything about the effect was done with the fxtree, and it's so absurdly simple to set up.

Here's the cool thing though, all the animated aspects of the effect (lots) are linked with the X position of the sphere, no keyframes in the compositor! This means that all I have to do to retime the whole effect is simply move a single keyframe on the sphere. I don't touch a single thing in the fxtree, and everything is adjusted in time. Very very cool!

And here's the improved, faster version of the movie, made soley by adjusting a keyframe on the sphere, nothing touched in the fxtree:

Ufo better and faster (http://www.dougnicola.com/XSI_UFO_Comp_Improved.mov) - 346k quicktime

Here's a shot of the ufo I filmed outside my window last night:
http://www.dougnicola.com/ufo.jpg

Here's the fxtree. This could be simplified, I'm sure, but it's what I just threw together. So easy!
http://www.dougnicola.com/ufo_fxtree.jpg

Atyss
09-02-2004, 09:22 PM
.............

luceric
09-02-2004, 10:11 PM
One thing that's often left forgotten is that actually quite a few people use the XSI compositor (the "FxTree"), in broadcast and film, including all the way up to cineon 2k, 16-bit. The thing is, softimage generally forgets to ask, and it doesn't get listed in press releases announcing This or that has been done with Softimage|XSI. Therefore it goes uncredited. The users of the compositor are generally users who use XSI for rendering or effects, and do a little bit of compositing, sometimes with trees that were preset by a TDs. That precomp work is generally sent upstream to a full-time compositor person that uses other tools, for example it can be sent to an Inferno, or directly to the editor. The FxTree offers 135 different operators out of the box, so there is plenty of creative things to do with it, and naturally all the scripting and the usual XSI views like the animation editor work with it, so there are no new tools to learn. Also, it's very convenient to have an affordable tree-based compositor on Linux.

roger3d
09-03-2004, 01:39 AM
One thing that's often left forgotten is that actually quite a few people use the XSI compositor (the "FxTree"), in broadcast and film, including all the way up to cineon 2k, 16-bit. The thing is, softimage generally forgets to ask, and it doesn't get listed in press releases announcing This or that has been done with Softimage|XSI. Therefore it goes uncredited. The users of the compositor are generally users who use XSI for rendering or effects, and do a little bit of compositing, sometimes with trees that were preset by a TDs. That precomp work is generally sent upstream to a full-time compositor person that uses other tools, for example it can be sent to an Inferno, or directly to the editor. The FxTree offers 135 different operators out of the box, so there is plenty of creative things to do with it, and naturally all the scripting and the usual XSI views like the animation editor work with it, so there are no new tools to learn. Also, it's very convenient to have an affordable tree-based compositor on Linux.
In my case, I going to use XSI in a small broadcast company. My main job is to create logos and opening sequences for the shows and when I'll have time left, my boss wants that I create short animations for a kids program.
So, does it mean that the FxTree is a great solution for those who are "one man media production" (my case), don't have time and need fast results?
We are evaluating the XSI Essentials + a compositor software VS XSI Advanced.
What do you think?

DougNicola
09-03-2004, 01:59 AM
My main job is to create logos and opening sequences
Keep in mind XSI's compositor has no built-in text capability. All your text would have to come from the 3d end or somewhere else.

Facial Deluxe
09-03-2004, 06:04 AM
I'm impressed with the samples posted by Doug Nicola, and having a look at Guy Rabiller and also the great FX plugs at www.macpla.com I'm still not keen on the FxTree.
I see FXtree can be usefull in some cases, but it's so poor compared to a real compositor such as AE, that it doesn't makes me want to spend time in it.
Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but it doesn't seem to work with XSI's Procedurals (unless you render them to images), that it loose its interest even in the pre-procesing textures area.
In the end, I don't really see the point of using FXtree, I believe I can be wrong reading the other posts, but to me it's, atm, useless.

luceric
09-04-2004, 01:26 AM
AfterFX is great for motion graphics, but it isn't a tree-based compositor. It's for a different user and task. If you've got AfterFX already and you're at ease with it, of course there aren't many reason to change, it's not really for you. The Fxtree is optimized for short effects shots, precomp of passes and review/approval, etc. It's being used on several films and television shows, so it's isn't useless for everyone ;-). Many people are glad to have a linux solution as well.
Not many have requested for the FXtree to work with 'XSI procedurals' (beyond generating a solid color), these nodes (marble, cloud, wood) are mental ray shaders, and the render tree has a rich set processing nodes, including color correctors and mixers. The procedural nodes are evaluated according to the object's surface UVW or global XYZ dynamically, that's their point; they are 3D textures with infinit resolution. If it were to be used as a static 2D image, it's effectivly the same thing as "rendering them to images", or render map them. The difference is that in the render tree the nodes are evaluated per "sample" with a host of surface parameters, while the fxtree (or any compositor) processes 2D image of finit resolution. To get have a blurred wood grain texture for example, you might as well do that in Photoshop and baked the texture, it's not really useful to process it "live".. RenderMap will help you creating that unfolded 2D image. For color correction, the render tree provides that. Piping a processed video a processed to a texture, correcting the viewport's roto clip, setting up a 3D compositing including 2D billboards in the scene, animating 2D images used for facial features in cartoon television series are various uses that are being made of the FxTree. The FxTree is nearly free in XSI Advance; really, the price of Advance is for Hair, Syflex Cloth, and rendering licenses. There must be about 0.75$ left for the fxtree.

chesterjoe
09-04-2004, 02:38 AM
You sure have a brain Bernard, and a clever one i would say. As well as francesca you two rock, and impress me very often. I wonīt get in the middle of what seems as a fight hehe, but just thanking you both for help received in the past thought Iīd say hello.
I agree with most of you in the fact that the fx tree is pretty cool and easy to use, and it is well integrated with stuff unavailable from outside apps so it is in deed great to have a compositor inside my 3d app, but I have to agree in some way with atyss since Iīd love to have the fxtree read motion vectors, or z depth directly from the scene. I donīt like having to render a separate pass to tell the fx tree the depth of my scene if it should be able to read it from the scene it self. Of course I donīt even need fake post DOF since I use francescaīs port of maya DOF anyway but just a thought :) . It would be pretty cool to have something like using rpf files inside combustion, so the compositor could read info regarding objects, materials (boundaries at least), depth ( for fading of DOF) and stuff like that directly from the scene since it has access to all the info it could need from the actual thing. Maybe too complicated to program but would be cool anyway. And that could be really TIGHT integration and I would never touch combustion nor affx anymore,hehe.

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