View Full Version : which is best

04 April 2003, 05:45 AM
ok, i was just wondering which is the best and most powerful all around video effects/compositing software package.

flame, inferno, combustion, after effects? any ideas would help

thanks very much

Jack Pfeiffer
04 April 2003, 07:26 AM

You ask: "which is the best and most powerful all around video effects/compositing software package....."

One can NOT compare a Discreet flame or inferno system to a combustion or after effects software package... It is like comparing and Apple to an Orange.. They are both fruit.. BUT hey, they are vastly different.....

The "best" solution has a LOT to do with BUDGET ... High end Expensive systems such as the Discreet Systems Flame and Inferno are SGI (Irix) based and therefore require special computers: These systems are capable of working with uncompressed film resolutions (HDTV) and can be real-time....

Whereas with Discreet Combustion or After Effects, you can buy it for over a thousand bucks and load it on a laptop.... You MAY need a Framebuffer.... And, be assured that you WILL have to wait for EVERYTHING to render......

If you have more MONEY and want to spend LESS TIME, then an SGI-based system will make you happy.. If it is your OWN money.... Well, what can I say?

What are you trying to do?
If you put your question in perspective, then it will make more sense..



04 April 2003, 04:02 PM
Give us more info on what type of work your doing. Every tool is tuned to different jobs so depending on the work one will be better than another. Also budget makes a huge difference. The prices range from $600 for afterfx to $500,000 for an Inferno.

04 April 2003, 01:58 AM
wow, i had no idea that inferno would cost 500,000. that is definately out of my budget.

i've narrowed it down to after effects and combustion- i was just wondering which one you guys would recemmend.

mostly what im going to be using it for is to mix my cg into live video.

04 April 2003, 04:03 AM
anyone have an idea? 80 people have viewed this thread and none of them has anything to say?

are you guys just too lazy to type anything or is something else going on here?

04 April 2003, 02:19 PM
really it comes down to a matter of personal preference. Both programs have thier strengths and weaknessess. After Effects has the use of bicubics and expressions whereas combustion doesn't. Combustion has much better (standard) tracking, keying, and paint tools.

It can't be said that one app is better than the other, a skilled artist should be able to achieve similar (if not identical) results with both applications, in roughly the same amount of time. The tools may differ, but the theory of digital compositing is the same.

It really depends on the person, maybe you should download the demo versions and try before you buy.

04 April 2003, 07:31 PM
i think we're not replying because we'd just say the same things that have already been said. i'm an after effects user, just really getting into it but knowing the standard adobe interface has helped me pick it up pretty quick. i really like it and have no reason to switch, but i'm sure there's combustion users who feel the same way about after effects. i think ooga booga put it rather nicely, and he basically said the same thing that i just did :thumbsup:


04 April 2003, 10:57 PM
thanks guys, i understand now that there is no really better one.

your advice is much apreciated :p

04 April 2003, 11:12 PM
i have an Inferno, and Smoke system no it doesn't cost 500,000 for an Inferno where u heard that i dont know half a million for system DOUBT IT! disceets sells Inferno and flame ranging 35,000 to about $60,000 WHICH UR COMPANY PAY FOR and smoke is about 15,000. In order to buy discreets high end system such as Inferno or Smoke, Fire, Frost u will need to work for a Studio because they set it up for you. halogenic139 i would go for Combustion its awesome it kicks after effects out the water by a HUGE number and plus combustion is the little brother to Inferno, Fire, its the the same UI and once u learn to master combustion u can take up the skills for Inferno adobe doesn't have any high end systems why waste ur money on a product u can master like combustion then upgrade to a monster like Inferno. Iv used Inferno for 3 years and its probably the best Non-Linear, compositing system out there to date since its basically doesn't have much comp, but go with combustion its got the best particles gerneration, best color correction system after discreets new "lustre" system, and if ur in school go buy the education verion for $299 bud, trust me you wont be dissappointed. And when it comes to adobe after effects vs combustion give me a break guys? there is no comp between them adobe doesn't have a good particle engine, color corretion? its masks system is crap compared to combustions garbage maks Im done talking im a combustion user for 1 half years years and i haven't gone back to the after effects.

04 April 2003, 12:19 AM
hullabaloo you should check again because there are inferno systems that cost around $500,000. Talk to you Discreet reseller. I've even seen ones that are around $1,000,000! No kidding! Hard to beleive but it's true! Keep in mind these prices I'm quoting are also in Canadian Funds. I'm still interested tho to find out where you are picking up an Inferno for $35-60,000? What version/how old is it?

04 April 2003, 12:28 AM
I personally think if your going to go software based I recomend AE and Combustion. Granted I do most things in Combustion now but there are times when I use AE. Also I think if your just starting out After effects may be a bit easier to learn.

There really is no one tool. If it were up to me I'd own and use all of the them.

Now if Apple would drop the price of Shake to a competitive price point that would be nice.


Alan Bell

04 April 2003, 12:46 AM
Inferno 5 dude, i use Flint 7, and Smoke 5.0 for Flextech tv in the UK! and Our Inferno 5.0 Suite was 60K, Flint was £105.000 and Smoke £15k believe it or not! remember you can buy the Inferno Software not the suite Flextech have our Inferno software on a SGI Fuel WF-600V12 not discreets preferred SGI O2 Challenge system inferno is built in

[posted by Alanbell]
Now if Apple would drop the price of Shake to a competitive price point that would be nice

It would be nice, iv tested on a shake i prefer combustion but shake is very powerful indeed if they did was discreet did with the price stop from about $9000 to like $2000 then apple would get business

04 April 2003, 01:13 AM
Yeah. I don't know what they are waiting for.

It is interesting that the business is starting to change a bit. I'm a feature film editor, but I've begun to do visual effects on the movies I cut. I don't do all of them because I simply don't have the time and if there is any 3d animation then it's beyond my ability. But in todays world it's possible for a film editor to spend less than 6K and have a system that can do 2K-4K visual effects comps. If you can do it in an avid or Final cut pro then with some time and learing you can work with 2K in combustion.

Times are changing.

Alan Bell

04 April 2003, 03:23 AM
alrightly then, combustion it is!

by the way, i own 3ds max, does combustion have any extra compatability with it since they're made by the same company?

04 April 2003, 03:38 AM
I do belive there is.

Couldn't say what though.

I don't know the first thing about 3d.


Alan Bell

Yo RoBoT
04 April 2003, 03:46 AM
I was seeing and I found some prices
The prices in general are around of
Inferno 5 $571,500
flame 8 $266,500
flint 8 $99,000
Actual system price will vary based on scalable configurations.

anyway I don't understand in that range "combustion" enters
and the differences between this and the other ones.

04 April 2003, 09:39 AM
combustion has a special plugin with max so u can change between them, but u would need a fast computar to do this a workstation dont try be putting 3ds max and combustion on any normal computar if u expect big results, combustion is a huge ram if u ever do decide to work with both of them try use them on a workstation type "super computar" if u want to dazzle anyone, normal desktop wont render and will probably crash 100% if u try render huge projects. Though combustion works hand in hand with combustion they have a special file they use to exchange between them and within the 3ds max you u can press a button to jump right into the combustion software without shutting 1 down to start up another. Like i said you would need alot of memory, ram to do that.

04 April 2003, 01:48 PM
Just to elaborate a little on what Hullabaloo said:

you can use a combustion workspace as a material map, a displacement map or an environment map in 3dsmax

with a combustion map you can include a composite, or paint branch in a material and apply that material to an object in a 3dsmax scene. You can then edit the map in combustion as you work in 3ds max so changes to the map appear immediately on the objects in the scene.

you can import 3ds max scenes rendered in a rich pixel file (RPF or RLA) format into combustion. The imported rich pixel rendering becomes an element in your composite.

Using RPF or RLA files allows you to do some of the following in combustion

3d depth of field
3d fog
3d glows
3d lens flares
RPF/RLA motion blur
texture mapping, etc..

(try doing some of these in max and see how long it takes to render! much easier to do it in combustion)

and as far as having a workstation type supercomputer to do any of this or to have both apps open at the same time, One of the machines I have at work is a Pentium 4 1.7Ghz processor, with 512MB RAM and an ATI Radeon 7200 video card and I have no problems whatsoever using these programs in conjunction with one another, and that isn't what I would call a workstation type supercomputer. Most computers for consumers are what we would have considered supercomputers around 2 years ago, but really everything is relatively cheap nowadays. You can spend $2000 and have a pretty kick ass computer that will have no problem at all with running these applications. However Combustion is (like Hullabaloo said) a huge RAM hog. It's not ideal by any means to work on a machine that only has 512 MB RAM, you'd probably want at least a Gig to get some decent RAM previews and whatnot. But you can work quite comfortably with only 512 MB, especially if you are just starting out using the software.

Hope this helps.

04 April 2003, 02:52 PM
Inferno 5 dude, i use Flint 7, and Smoke 5.0 for Flextech tv in the UK! and Our Inferno 5.0 Suite was 60K, Flint was £105.000 and Smoke £15k believe it or not! remember you can buy the Inferno Software not the suite Flextech have our Inferno software on a SGI Fuel WF-600V12 not discreets preferred SGI O2 Challenge system inferno is built in

Any you sow on your eyes "Inferno 5 software" working on Fuel workstation ?????


04 April 2003, 04:56 PM
Any you sow on your eyes "Inferno 5 software" working on Fuel workstation ?????

no offence, but make some sence so i can understand what ur trying to say

04 April 2003, 09:02 PM
no offence, but make some sence so i can understand what ur trying to say

Just few questions, to make some sense.

1. How do you capture HD, or capture video/audio at all (what BBOX subsytem), and how you manage preview on external HD monitor ?

2. What kind of StoneFs disk storage this system have, and what controller is used. Does it playback HD/2K in realtime on external monitor ?

I know Inferno 5 is not supported on older Onyx systems (Inferno is based on Onyx). Onyx and Fuel architectures (especialy graphic engine - Reality Engine vs. V10 & V12) are very very different, so I am confussed.

My first question was more about "how this system is functional, if it is functional at all", and why you instaled it on Fuel ?


Yo RoBoT
04 April 2003, 08:39 PM
then... excuses me..... what is the main difference between Combustion and inferno/flint/flame???

04 April 2003, 09:12 PM
combustion is sold as software only, is slower in most things, doesnt do some things the big boys can do (timewarping, imagewarping) & can do a couple of things the big boys cant do (2d particle systems). Have a look at the info on Discreets site, it explains it.

Yo RoBoT
04 April 2003, 09:29 PM
thanks for the explanation. in otherwise, this softwares will vary based on scalable configurations. well, i go to read more in the official web thanks


04 April 2003, 09:36 PM
then... excuses me..... what is the main difference between Combustion and inferno/flint/flame???

Hardware -
Discreet FFI are SGI-Irix "turnkey sytems". Flint and Flame are based on Octane 2 (first suport one processor, other two) and Inferno is based on Onyx (4 processors or more). Also, they are equiped with prepared fiber-optics RAID systems (StoneFs), adopted for supported capture and realtime playback, specific resolutions (SD and HDCAM software codec - Flint, SD & HD Flame, SD, DH etc. - Inferno), capacity and Batch-cashing (R18, R36 etc.).

Almost all software modules in FFI use OpenGl engines (V10- Flint, V12 - Flame, Reality Engine - Inferno) for rendering - all the time.

Software -
Software architecture is "on first glance" different in many aspects. FFI consists of two basic UI components - desktop and batch.
Desktop is "clips container" where you can process clips (RGB and Matte are separated clips in FFI) true modules (nodes) "on the fly".
Batch is schematics where you connect hystory of modules/nodes to create effect/effects, plus editing-timeline plus batch animation chanel (maybe this sound not too different, ,but ...).
Bigest obvious difference is in module called ACTION. 3D DVE which has its own schematics for layer/object - axis parenting, chanel expressions, 3d particles subsystem, extended bicubics, 3d lattice deformer, 3D Projector, import/export of axis-animated 3DS, OBJ or FBX scenes (3D mashes, textures, lights, cameras, axis animation) etc.
Nodes which FFI have and Combustion does not - Color Warper (Flame and Inferno), Modular Keyer (Flame and Inferno), Warper/Morpher (Flint, Flame and Inferno), Tracer (Flint, Flame, Inferno) 3D tracker (Flame and Inferno), Motion Estimated Timewarper (Inferno) etc. etc.

BURN is Linux based backround rendering software for FFI batch rendering (will be shiped latter this summer, I hope).

Plugin architecture is different too. Plugins for FFI are called Sparks and have same priority as any FFI module, mostly all can be accesed from Batch ... Best known are Speedsix Monsters, Genarts Sapphire, Colorfront ColorstarHD & StarDust etc. etc. etc.

And things FFI dont have in compare to Combustion - raytraced shadows and reflections, and vector based paint.

Maybe I didnt mentioned all, and said something wrong, but I hope this can help.


Jack Pfeiffer
04 April 2003, 07:24 AM

Yes, if you are already using 3ds MAX, then --- COMBUSTION works GREAT with 3ds max RLA and RPF files !!

What are RLA Files ??? I am glad you asked: here is the answer:
RPF Files (Rich pixel Format): The RPF format is a 3ds max "Rich Pixel file Format" that builds on the older RLA format with additional arbitrary image channel information. While setting up a file for rendering an output, one simply selects these additional RPF Image File settings from the dialog setup list. You can specify what channels you want to write out to the file. Side Note: the more info you select and add to the list, the larger the files tend to be. RPF files officially replace the older RLA files as the format of choice for rendering animations requiring further post-production or effects work. Many channels available in RPF files are exclusive to this format.

Important Tip: When you create a scene you plan to render as an RPF file for use with Discreet combustion software, turn ON the Render Occlude Objects, located under the Object Properties Dialog, for objects in the scene. This is important if you want to use the combustion G-Buffer Extract feature. When Render Occluded Objects is enabled and you extract an object in combustion, the objects behind it are drawn correctly. If Render Occluded Objects is disabled (the default), objects behind the extracted object appear with black holes where they were occluded!

The RPF Image File Format has a dialog with the following options:
Standard channels Group: The standard channels are RGB color and the alpha (transparency) channel:
-Bits per Channel: Choose either 8 or 16 as the number of bits per channel. Default=8.
-Store Alpha Channel: Choose whether to save the alpha channel. Defaut=selected.

With 3d Max, there are additional Optional Channels for the output RPF files. These are additional channels that you can generate and also view in the virtual frame buffer:
-Z: Saves Z-Buffer information in repeating gradients from white to black. The gradients indicate relative depth of the object in the scene.
-Material Effects: Saves the Effects Channel used by materials assigned to objects in the scene. The Effects Channel is a material property set in the Material Editor and used during Video Post compositing. Each Effects Channel ID is displayed using a different random color.
-Object: Saves the G-Buffer Object Channel ID assigned to objects using the Object Properties dialog. The G-Buffer ID is used during Video Post compositing. Each G-Buffer ID is displayed using a different random color.
-UV Coordinates: Saves the range of UV mapping coordinates as a color gradient. This channel shows where mapping seams might occur. Note: UV Coordinates will not be displayed on objects that have the UVW Map Modifier applied unless a map has been applied that uses the coordinates.
-Normal: Saves the orientation of normal vectors as a grayscale gradient. Light gray surfaces have normals pointing towards the view. Dark gray surfaces have normals pointing away from the view.
-Non Clamped Color: Saves areas in the image where colors exceeded the valid color range and were corrected by 3ds max. The areas appear as bright saturated colors usually around specular highlights.
-Coverage: Saves the coverage of the surface fragment from which other G-buffer values (Z Depth, Normal, and so on) are obtained. Z-Coverage values range from 0 to 255. To see Z Coverage, render to an RLA file after first checking Z Coverage in the Setup subdialog, then choose Z-Coverage in the virtual frame buffer’s Viewing Channel dropdown list. The Z-Coverage feature is provided primarily for developers, and should aid in the antialiasing of Z-buffers.
-Node Render ID: Saves each object as a solid color according to its G-Buffer Object channel (found under Object Properties).
-Color: Saves the color returned by the material shader for the fragment. This channel displays any transparent fragment as a solid color.
-Transparency: Saves transparency returned by the material shader for the fragment. Any fragment with any degree of transparency will be rendered as a solid gray object.
-Velocity: Saves the velocity vector of the fragment relative to the screen in screen coordinates.
-Sub-Pixel weight: Saves the sub-pixel weight of a fragment. The channel contains the fractions of the total pixel color contributed by the fragment. The sum of all the fragments gives the final pixel color. The weight for a given fragment takes into account the coverage of the fragment and the transparency of any fragments that are in front of a given fragment.
-Sub-Pixel Mask: Saves the sub-pixel alpha mask. This channel provides a mask of 16 bits (4x4) per pixel, used in anti-aliased alpha compositing. This mask is especially useful with the combustion compositing product.
-Descriptive Information is information that is saved with the file, and includes Description (a descriptive text) and Author (You can enter your name.)

Before rendering from 3ds max: When rendering your RLA/RPF file (Render Output | Save File) or sequence be sure to enable the Optional Channels (3D Studio Max Channels), specifically the Z, Material Effects, Object, Normal and Coverage. Be aware that the files will be very large in size due to the additional RLA/RPF information added on separate channels.
Tip: use the combo box in the 3D Studio MAX Virtual Frame Buffer to query information about the RLA/RPF channels.

If you have properly followed all of the above you should be able to render *.rla/*.rpf files in which objects, material and the Z-depth are recognized in combustion. You should now be able to apply 3D effects and adjust the G-Buffer between objects.

As for using COMBUSTION with RPF files: there are two primary ways :

1) From withing 3ds max, you can use Combustion as a PAINT TOOL in your Materials Editor: Tghis means you can easily Paint on to your 3d model within your viewports..

2) Once you have finished you 3ds models... You render out your files as RPF (or the older RLA file format...) If you asssigned materials IDs, objects IDs, G buffer depth, etc, BE SURE TO ACTIVATE those options within the 3ds max render menu ! Next, you take the finished & rendered files fom max, you can IMMEDIATELY open them in Combustion and read information... You can instantly apply such effects as: 3D Depth Of Field; 3D Fog; 3D Glow; 3D Lens; Flare; RPF Motion; Blur; G-Buffer Extract; and Texture Map...

For more info, see:

PS: ALAN BELL.... You posted that you "didn't know " if there was any 3ds max integration... PLAESE REVIEW Chapter 18 in my booK that you bought ! .....

Jack Pfeiffer

04 April 2003, 07:47 AM
Thanks Jack you just reminded me I'm still trying to sell that book I bought from you. :thumbsup: My mind has a way of flushing out the information I don't use often. Since I don't own 3d Studio Max I guess that chapter just slipped away.....:shame:

Anyone want to buy a barely used copy of Jack's book?:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :rolleyes:

04 April 2003, 05:51 PM
This is just turning into a bitch fest, so Im locking the thread.