View Full Version : Question About Compositing

06 June 2009, 06:02 PM
I've been around 3d modeling quite a while so I've got that down.

Now I find myself in a position where I'm starting to get into compositing.... so...

Without turning this into a VS. thread, where do I begin? (not interested in After Effects BTW)

First, I need a really good series of DVD training materials I can buy. Mostly for rendering 3 elements for compositing. Hopefully a start to finish DVD.

Camera tracking... PFTrack, Boujou, Matchmover?
Compositing? Shake (studio I'm working with has a copy of this but I have a PC), Nuke, Fusion?

I'm interested in placing 3d elements on a human actor as well (face replacement)

I'm fluent in both Max and Maya but I'm really going to try to use Blender, because I don't own the other two :)

SO, start to finish. What is a good combination of tools? What has worked best for you?

PLEASE do not argue amongst yourselves... These kind of threads can degenerate quickly...


06 June 2009, 09:55 PM
If your trying to do it on the cheep have a look at Voodoo 3d tracking software also

Voodoo (

06 June 2009, 11:03 PM
For training DVDS, especially of the 3D variety, you can't go past The Gnomon Workshop ( They have multi-pass rendering/compositing tutorials for several of the 3D packages out there - although they don't cover blender sofar as I know.

Re: composting apps - After Effects gets hated on far too much for what it is (a fairly sturdy entry-level compositing app with a great supply of plugins out there)... but never mind. The future of Shake is uncertain, not sure about Combustion. I've never looked at Fusion, but Nuke is a great app, especially if you want a node-based workflow. If you're going to end up playing with the big boys on a Flame or Flint, Combustion's similar interface might be an advantage.

I've only ever used boujou for motion tracking, although I did learn on Icarus as it was (and is still in places) freeware (it was ultimately purchased and redeveloped as PFTrack). I love boujou (working most with 3DS Max), but I've heard bad things about it's integration with Maya, so maybe look at alternatives if you'd be doing a look of motion-tracking work together with Maya.

06 June 2009, 01:47 AM
Thanks for the heads up, I'll look into the tools you mentioned...

06 June 2009, 03:24 PM
Nuke is a great app. Its support for exr format is great, making it a great candidate for multipass compositing, it's faster than shake and you can do undos :love:. Shake is widely used still but if you learn nuke, you can use shake.

I have heard good things about syntheyes tracking software

06 June 2009, 04:49 PM
I've used SynthEyes for tracking and it's worked out good for me. There's a bunch of tutorials on the site that explain how to use it.

07 July 2009, 09:10 AM
The future of Shake is uncertain, not sure about Combustion. I've never looked at Fusion, but Nuke is a great app, especially if you want a node-based workflow. If you're going to end up playing with the big boys on a Flame or Flint, Combustion's similar interface might be an advantage.

Combustion really doesn't share that much with FFI interface wise anymore. I think that was a good marketing technique from Autodesk but not reallly that accurate.

Shake is widely used still but if you learn nuke, you can use shake

I would say that whilst they are both very similar. Nuke is probably more similar to Fusion in a lot of ways than shake. Although all the node based apps are pretty much easy to understand once you have learned one.

07 July 2009, 11:20 AM
I would also like to add that nuke's paint tools are quite basic still

07 July 2009, 06:57 PM
right.. I work as a compositor and do 3d as well.. so we probably ave somewhat the same interests..
you say you dont have interests in AE? LEARN IT FIRST.. After Effects holds your hand when it comes to premults and its an easier work around than in Nuke, Shake or Fusion... its also the most used program in the industry since all Motion Graphics is AE.. i use it when i do Motion graphics commercials etc.

I work in Nuke normally, however, all my roto and paint work, I would do in After Effects first and then render alpha mattes and bring into nuke and composit them there..

Nuke has a fantastic 3d Engine with build in tracker, which does 3d tracking also, to an extent.. for more advanced 3d tracking, i use PF track, which is just amazing.

in both AE and NUKE, you can import Maya cameras which is very nifty...

if your looking to start.. I would get the basics down in AE first.. then move on to Nuke or Fusion .. DONT learn shake.. its dead.. apple is selling it for 50$ pr license.. tho and its notebased compositing which is great.. so if its a money thing.. and your're just looking to learn it... its great.. but if you have access to Nuke or Fusion.. i would use that.. its newer and amazing..

anyways, gotta go..
hope it helps..

07 July 2009, 07:38 PM
I have been working with compositing and getting into 3D lately so I know how you feel, except for me it is the other way around.
Myself do not like the AE interface either. Combustion seems to be a much better tool for me. As far as 3D I have been playing with Carrara Studio and DAZ Studio.
Both can do a lot and are underrated.
Boujou is fantastic for matchmoving, although I find Syntheyes to be easier to use.
With any of these tools, I still see the rendering time as major obstacle. My clients want the results faster and I have to stay mobile too, so a render farm is out of the quetion.
Lately I have stumbled upon a software that may have a solution for me. It is called VitaScene ( and it uses GPU power instead CPU for rendering and thus many effects can be achieved in real time (provided that you have a fast graphic card). Works with both 16 and 32 bit too. At first I thought it was just a plugin (works with most commonly sofware, like AVID, AfterEffects and Vegas, but I was pleasantly surprised that they have a stand alone version too. Going to test it as plugin in Combustion too, could work through the AVID plugin.
Who knows, with GPUs getting faster and more powerful, this may be one way to go?
Anyway this was my 2 cents on the subject.

07 July 2009, 11:17 PM
After some recommendations I'm going to to try my hand at AE first then migrate to Fusion. Fusion shouldn't be too much of a stretch, I was using Maya Composer & Maya Fusion years ago when I last tried compositing.


What tutorial DVD collections and books would you recommend? especially for camera tracking and compositing for 3d?


07 July 2009, 11:35 PM
There's only 1 book on camera tracking by Tim Dobbert from the Orphanage called The Invisible Art of Camera Tracking.. for tutorials, im sure theres a Gnomon one somewhere.. however, i would advice you to use PF track.. its SUPER easy to use..

07 July 2009, 02:05 AM
Also, take a look at and the various courses they offer. They have a new semester starting now (July 1) and offer several courses on various compositing packages as well as matchmoving (PFTrack).

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