November 10, 2014

Professional Node-Based Compositing & 3D Animation Software Is Now at Everyone's Fingertips

Blackmagic Design Fusion 7
Several years ago, Blackmagic Design put world-class color grading tools into the hands of the masses when they released DaVinci Resolve Lite. Now they're doing the same thing with Fusion 7, a professional node-based compositing and 3D animation software that has been used on countless Hollywood features and shows. It's powerful, it's free, and it's now available from Blackmagic's site if you're a Windows user.

Back at IBC 2014, the announcement that Blackmagic Design had acquired Eyeon, the original developer of Fusion, kind of snuck under the radar, likely due to the explosion of new 4K cameras that were announced at the trade show. However, it may very well turn out that this acquisition will do for the visual effects world what Blackmagic's acquisition of DaVinci did for color grading, in which case this is a massive announcement that will likely have a tremendous impact on the quality of visual effects in low-budget films over the next few years.

So let's take a look an interview from IBC 2014 that sums up perfectly why this announcement is such a big deal. 

Here's a rundown of some of the incredibly powerful features that are available in Fusion 7 from Dailymotion user bhupduhan.

 

Like DaVinci Resolve, Fusion 7 has both a free and a paid version, which comes in at $995, that is designed for post houses in need of additional high-end features like a full stereoscopic toolset and network rendering. The free version is not limited in any significant capacity with the exception that it doesn't offer support for 3rd party OFX plugins and it can't output resolutions higher than QHD. Otherwise, it's an astoundingly full featured piece of software that is capable of professional and polished results.

The biggest kink in this release is that it's currently only available to Windows users. Obviously a sizable portion of content creators these days are using Macs as their primary computers, so limiting this software to Windows users would obviously limit the impact that Fusion 7 will have on the world of low-budget visual effect creation. However, in a post on the Blackmagic forums, Grant Petty revealed that a Mac version is indeed in the works and the Blackmagic engineers are hard at work rewriting the code. Here's an excerpt from that post.

Yes, we are working on a version of Fusion for Mac OS X, but there are some important things to know about that. 

We are lucky that the engineering team who has been working on Fusion 7 has kept the codebase very modern and clean so that allows us to move it forward. However there is some Windows specific code in the buttons and menus in Fusion, and that code is being changed out right now. What that means is the time it's going to take to do a Mac OS X version of Fusion is a bit unknown, and so it's impossible right now to specify any kind of release day. It's impossible to even know when we can show a Mac OS X version too.

Ultimately, Fusion 7 seems likely to have a massive impact on the visual effects community because one of the most advanced pieces of VFX on the planet is now completely free of charge. That in and of itself is a massive deal. However, until a Mac version is released, we won't know the extent to which Fusion will be adopted by the lower-budget end of the film industry. If DaVinci Resolve's ubiquity is any indication, it's likely that Fusion could very well be a household name for filmmakers within a few years.

You can find out more about the features in Fusion 7, and download the software, over on the Blackmagic Site.

What do you guys think of this announcement? Will Fusion 7 revolutionize the world of low-budget visual effects? Let us know down in the comments!     

Your Comment

21 Comments

Since the MacBook Pro is one of the best Windows laptops out there, being limited to Windows is an issue only for those who run a single OS.

This software is going to be huge for low budget TV shows, and especially for ultra low budget web series. Can't wait to play around with this.

November 10, 2014 at 6:41PM

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kyleclements
Artist / Photographer
953

Great news! I can't wait for the Mac version. However, I do believe this will be revolutionary for independent film.

November 10, 2014 at 7:00PM

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Tim Buttner
Multi-Media Expert (writer, director, producer, D.O.P., etc)
395

Wow, if this brings the ability to key, roto, and composite with the speed and precision of Resolve...After Effects needs to watch its back. This looks amazing.

November 10, 2014 at 7:25PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2858

It seems fusion doesn't have a 3d tracker like AE. Is that right? Installed here but I'm only seeing a node for normal tracking, not even planar. Perhaps they have it hidden somewhere...

November 10, 2014 at 8:22PM

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Alex Mandarino
DP / VFX Generalist
240

The Foundry will be offering a non-commercial version of Nuke soon...
http://www.thefoundry.co.uk/products/nuke/non-commercial/

November 10, 2014 at 8:41PM

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Michael Goldfarb
Senior Technical Director - Side Effects
338

Considering the majority of 3D affects houses that I have heard of use windows its not a big deal. Plus if it has the ability to offload processing to farms than you can get beastly really quick for not a lot of money.

November 11, 2014 at 12:02AM

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Will Youngman
Sound Mixer
222

The majority of big vfx houses run Linux on their workstations and servers.

November 11, 2014 at 11:53AM

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What editing or compositing software do they use on linux? I haven't heard much about industry standard software on linux. I would really appreciate the speed of a linux machine, but right now I'm tied to Adobe software.
Thanks

November 11, 2014 at 3:58PM

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Sandro Schreiber
Post Production allrounder
85

On Linux it's Nuke for compositing. The only other package you really see is Flame in commercials. AfterFX has made some inroads for things like split screen and cleanup, due to it's direct integration with Premiere.

Maya, Houdini, Softimage and Modo run on Linux. 3D Max is the exception, although it is not widely used in high end vfx.

There are many smaller and some midsize houses that are all Windows. Some houses are a mix. Windows for the 3D guys, compositors on Linux or OS X. The motion graphics people are usually Mac.

Things improved for Windows with Win 7, but there are many reason to go Linux for a large scale facility. One big reason is cost. If you have 1000 workstations Linux is a bargain. Buying a Windows license for that many machines would be very expensive. Same for a farm with hundreds or thousands of blades. Linux is lower maintenance, faster in many cases etc.

Editors used to mainly be Mac, but since Apple fumbled with FCP and Premiere made a comeback, Windows is an option, again. The vast majority of Avid boxes I have seen are Mac. The new Mac Pro looks to be pretty popular with editors. I see a lot of people upgrading to theTrashcan.

The big editing package on Linux is Lightworks, but it is nowhere as widely used as FCP /Avid /Premiere.

November 12, 2014 at 2:20AM

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Thanks alot for your detailed reply, Hank. It's very much appreciated!

November 13, 2014 at 3:12PM

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Sandro Schreiber
Post Production allrounder
85

You just gotta Love Black Magic and what they have been doing to help people like me who weren't born into royalty get ahead my making the tools affordable for free or at a way reduced cost.

November 11, 2014 at 4:12AM

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Wentworth Kelly
Director/DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2099

A great animation software to make the magic!! Animation softwares seem to be more complex with more technical aspects...but like Fusion and DaVinci Resolve people just ensure they are comofortable working with it!! Love these animations!!
http://goo.gl/u1jJ5b

November 11, 2014 at 5:11AM

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This is a little something of a fluff press piece.

None of the major visual effects houses use Fusion. Not Weta, ILM, Digital Domain, Scanline, R&H, Imageworks, Dreamworks, Disney, DNEG, MPC, Framestore or anyone in-between.

The biggest Fusion user was probably Prime Focus, who used it in their stereo conversion pipeline, but even there it was phased out in favor of Nuke.

The industry standard is Nuke, which was developed by Digital Domain (for which they won a tech achievement Oscar) in the early 1990's. Eventually Nuke ended up at the Foundry, where it became a commercial product.

If anything Fusion has been decimated in recent years by Nuke and AfterFX, which is probably why BM was able to purchase them cheaply.

Before Nuke made the transition from an in-house package at Digital Domain to the Foundry and public sales, the market was dominated by Shake. But Shake was purchased by Apple, who utterly botched it and killed the product within a short time.

November 11, 2014 at 12:04PM, Edited November 11, 12:04PM

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There's a big difference between the needs of huge VFX companies with in house coders, and all the small boutique studios...

November 11, 2014 at 1:46PM

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This is true. For instance, while most VFX houses use Maya plus perhaps a lot of custom code for 3D, there are smaller shops that use LightWave or even Blender.

November 11, 2014 at 4:09PM

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Exactly, as someone who uses both Maya and Lightwave I can attest to that...for example there's no easy way to dynamically parent things by default in Maya, but it's fast and easy in Lightwave. But since everything in Maya is scripted, you can do pretty much anything with enough code.

November 11, 2014 at 4:41PM

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What's why most small boutiques stick to After Effects.

November 15, 2014 at 8:36PM

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Re: "None of the major visual effects houses use Fusion" - Well, since standard Nuke is $4,213, Nuke X is $7,920 and Fusion 7 is now free... that situation may change rather quickly for some. Especially since even the major VFX houses struggle to survive as it is.

November 12, 2014 at 6:39AM

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Razor
VFX Colorist
495

There are some shortcomings to the free version of Fusion 7: UHD resolution limit, lack of network rendering, lack of OpenFX support, reduced scriptability. But even at $995 for the full versiom, Fusion's price is far lower than it was, and certainly only a fraction of Nuke's.

November 12, 2014 at 2:01PM

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Although I totally agree with everything you say about Nuke being the standard I think you miss the point here though dude (not to be rude or anything), this isn't really about Fusions past but it's future. The headline was "Professional Node-Based Compositing & 3D Animation Software Is Now at EVERYONE's Fingertips". What I gathered from this article was that Fusion is going to be accessible to everyone, not just the high-end facilitates (or people with a few grand knocking about) and also it's definitely going to be one to watch now that it's been acquired by BMD. For me the Fusion UI is the thing that puts me off so far but after a few years of development this could be a total beast, especially if they integrate a half decent NLE like with Resolve. Hell, imagine if they had full integration WITH Resolve! I mean, (like others have said) imagine if it had the speed and power of resolves planar tracker. That alone would be reason enough to dabble in it from time to time.

November 12, 2014 at 1:50PM

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So you never heard of After Effects? It's professional. It's being used on both high and low end tv shows and movies.

Lots of people find AE intimidating, I can only imagine what they think of Fusion.

We'll see how Fusion evolves. I'm not expecting it to steamroll over After Effects and Nuke.

November 15, 2014 at 8:56PM

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