It's been really Flaming busy...

By Bill Ennis - 27 Oct, 2014 - Flame , Flare , Smoke Advanced , Lustre , Flame Premium

Well, long time no chat.

Wow, this has been a busy year! So when I last left you, we were headed into NAB. NAB is always a big show for us and to make it worth it we unleashed a truckload of newness- Flame Premium 2015 and a new product structure. We'll touch on the 2015 release at NAB and the Extension release announced at IBC. What amazing releases! 

Here are some of the highlights from the 2015 release-

Creative Features like:

3D Shape - 3D Shape allows the creation of 3D geometry within Action. You can either create your own shapes and modify by changing the scale, extrude or rotation profiles. There are some realy interesting possibilities there. 3D Shape also facilitates bringing in vector logos via SVG. It is as simple as doing a "Save As SVG" in your most popular vector apps (you know who you are). It is a such a welcome addition to import inumerable logos that agencies and art directors provide and be able to keep them not only scalable, they come in as geometry. Thus straight away you can add a little depth and extrusion to the logos. Give them that little edge to catch a nice glint from your lens flare

.3DShape

Replica - The easiest definition of Replica is that it is an instancing node in Action. With Replica, you can take any element and modify it's transforms and have it "echo" or recursively apply the transforms to each subsequent copy. So think of things like stairs, spiral staircases, a helix of DNA, a chain link fence, a cog. Replica can act on anything- an image plane, an Atomize node, imported geometry or a 3D Shape node. And as with nearly every parameter in Flame Premium you can animate the number of Replicas. This would allow you to start with something very simple and animate on the "building" of something much much more complex.

Replica Example

Matchbox - Matchbox, the glsl fragment shaders accessible as nodes in Batch were upgraded. They have been promoted to the timeline and even incorporated into transitions. The guys over at http://logik-matchbook.org have really run with Matchbox and made it an outstanding creative resource for everyone. One of the cool things about the new iteration of Matchbox is that they can be encrypted. So if you have a particular "special sauce" it can be included in your setup without your tricks being revealed. Matchbox nodes and code can travel with a setup and are not dependant upon each person having installed that individual Matchbox shader (contrary to how Sparks work). Though you can lock your code down, the Matchbox community as a whole have been very generous in sharing, both the fruits of their labor and the technical expertise in helping others code their own shaders.

Matchbox

Interface Updates:

There have been a handful of changes to the interface of Flame Premium this time around. Since the introduction of the new workflow and layout, Flame has been going through some evolutionary changes. 2015 has been no different. The workspace panel, where your desktop and libraries live, has had some tabs added to it. I find this to be a huge benefit in allowing you to focus better on what you are trying to do. Rather than be overwhelmed by having all of your libraries and reels in front of you at all times, you can narrow your attention to just your desktop and reels or just your libraries if needed. If you do need to see both at once, there is now a dual panel view and then to assist you further- scrubable proxies have returned and been upgraded. The scrubable proxies can be viewed in either the desktop or the libraries and they can be resized on the fly (and very quickly I might add).

Structurally the desktop has gone through some evolution. Many people thought of the desktop as just their reels. Many artist became accustomed to saving and loading complete desktops. Often these desktops related to the current batch that the artist was working on. Well, now they have been tied a little closer together. Now the desktop includes the current Batch as well as any saved snapshots. Now this is a key point that I try and stress over and over again to Flame artists that I've visited - Your batch and snapshots are PART OF YOUR DESKTOP. Your desktop is no longer just a collection of reels but is a container for your current creative environment.

The New Flame Family:

So, at NAB we also introduced you to the Flame Family. Smoke has been set off on its own to conquer the desktop video editing world armed with the heritage that Flame forged and a timeline full of effects capability. Flame and more specifically Flame Premium has been gathered into a family of products. So, if you have a Flame Premium license you are armed for the creative battlefield. You get licenses for the following: Flame, Lustre (Grading), Flare (shot based compositing) & Flame Assist (a conform and editorial assist station). 

Now that is a sweeet suite!! With Extension 2 this gets even better- but we'll get to that in a bit. 

Flame and Lustre remain as they are- giving you the best one-two punch for your finishing needs. Flare- regarding fuctionality, Flare doesn't change much. What does change is that you get a "free" (as in beer) license with your Flame Premium. Flame Assist- A number of customers were buying up Smoke licenses to use them as assist stations and prep stations for their Flame Premium finishing suites. The needs of these assist stations were a little different than Smoke. So we decided to be proactive and generous and include a license of Flame Assist with Flame Premium. For those who were on the leading edge and had a smoke as their assist we provide a zero-dollar cross grade from smoke to Flame Assist. BOOM- there you go ;-)

Our friends over at FXGuide did a nice write-up with some additional details on the 2015 release here:
http://www.fxguide.com/featured/flame-2015-new-features-and-a-new-family/

Hot on the heels of NAB we followed up with some significant additions. Of note was support for dual-monitors. For those that have been on the systems for a while, this may be foreign. Flame had always been honed to make effecient use of a single monitor. With artists and operators being expected to do more and more and with digital acquisition allowing shooting to be a bit more unrestrained the amount of footage to be sorted through has grown exponentially. Thus the additional real estate is both needed and welcome. Other notable Extension 1 features were codec and format additions as well as feature differentiation between Flame Assist and Smoke. Extension 1 was the break point of Smoke being compatible with Flame. Flame Assist is and will continue to be compatible with Flame. Flame Assist got some love in Extension 1 as well- it picked up Matchbox in the timeline and the LUT editro in the timeline. Also in this version Flame Assist began adopting the Flame desktop structure. It didn't get reels, but the library and desktop structure was now the same and comptible with Flame.

OK... That brings us up to NAB (and shortly thereafter).

Post NAB it was across the country and around the world. We had User Groups in NY, Dallas, Atlanta & LA.

We had people spreading the Flame Premium gospel in Colombia S.A, Brasil and Mexico and that is just the crew here in the US. Our team in Europe, Asia and Australia were firing on all cylinders as well getting the word out about all the hot "newness". By the end of the summer it was time to gear up for IBC in Amsterdam - Europes answer to Vegas's NAB. A tradeshow with cooler weather and real canals.

At IBC we announced Flame Premium 2015 Extension 2

In the short time span of 6 months the Devs, Designers and Engineers were hard at work squashing bugs and preparing a fall cornucopia of a release. Since Extension 2 is still hot off the presses and newly released I'll make this a little more of a bullet point list rather than a lengthy explanation.

So here it goes- Extension 2

BFX

Render and Write File nodes- Now these aren't executed when you render from the timeline but they do give you access to utilize BFX a little more like Batch and give you the ability to render out useful elements.  

Recursive BFX - you can again have BFX inside BFX. But as has been the practise, we not only brought it back but gave it more power and put it more in context of your work. Recursive BFX can now be tracked through the Media Panel. So as you go deeper into each level of BFX you are given context of where you are in the Media Panel. This is also true of using "nested" BFX in Batch. 

An implicit context- one you don't have to set. Flame remembers what the last clip and node you touched in Batch and they can be viewed as a context. This is especially useful when viewing a Batch context from the timeline.

Action-

PLANAR TRACKING!!!! Need I really say more? Of course I do! 

Planar tracking has been added as an option to all of the elements that could access the Stabilizer before. Beyond that there are a number of options when utilizing the Planar Tracker to account for lighting conditions and occlusions. Even the Perspective Grid can be used to Planar Track an element now. Just amazing! You now have a fully outfit swiss army knife of tracking capabilities.

Conform- 

Conform got some love. You can now select file paths and modify them right in the conform window. This is an awesome two-fold feature. If you know the path to your media you can change it in context and Flame will look at that path and validate the media. The second part is that if you only need to change part of the file path Flame recognizes that up to a certian level the path is the same and will let you change just that part. Thus you can change just part of a hierarchy. So nice.... So simple.

Codecs- 

ProRes for everyone!!!! (insert Oprah's voice here) You get ProRes. You get ProRes. You get ProRes

Flame Premium, Flame, Flame Assist (Mac & Linux), Lustre and Flare (Mac & Linux) all get ProRes support. Not only ProRes but the hot new flavor of ProRes 4444 XQ. In addition to ProRes we beefed up our support of DNxHD formats. This applies to import and export.

Import / Export Formats

So you may have noticed a little something in the Codec support list and I alluded to it earlier when mentioning the Flame Family. As of Extension 2 the family grows a little. We now support Flame Assist and Flare on both the Mac and Linux platform. It's up to you what OS you want to work on. It's all about choice.There is a great short video here about platform choice.
 

[video]http://youtu.be/sp1nzrmIedY[/video]

Not only did import functions get beefed up but export options were opened up as well. Most noteably AAF export. You can now utilize AAF out of Flame Premium to go to a number of workstations in your facility - Media Composer, Baselight, etc.

Lustre got some attention with an update to Shot Reactor allowing it ot be in automatic or manual mode. Additional CDL support was added.A user "Flag" system was added allowing communication of notes and intent for mutliple users on a single project or just to remind yourself about important information. Lets not forget the new Lustre Second Screen functionality. This allows you to display the actual cut and grade in any web browser.

In the Timeline-

A small but very impactful addtion is the ability to add a Shot Name. This is an additional bit of meta-data that can be added to clips that is especially useful for orgaizing and publishing clips. This is different and can live alongside the name of the clip. When you use Rename Shot (in the context menu on a clip or clips) you get access to the token nameing system that is available when you publish or export clips. This is both convenient and useful to utilize common and consistant conventions within a facility pipeline. The Timewarp tool in the timeline has been tweaked. Within the timeline (and all segments have a timeline) you can set the duration of your clip. Say you have a 300 frame clip and you want it to be 180 frames. It is as simple as typing 180 on your number keypad and hitting ALT+T (flamehotkeys). Similar to the tools function, Pre-Anniversary edition but you don't have to go to the tools menu.

Rename Shot

And then the Shotgun heard 'round the world....

Flame Premiums support and integration into a Shotgun workflow. Shotgun was acquired by Autodesk over the summer. Shortly thereafter they put the pedal to the metal and set out to find an efficient way to bring Flame Premium into the Shotgun fold. We had already been exposing a little bit of python here and there but with Shotgun paired up with Flame, it builds many bridges to remove the perception of flame being an island. Utilizing Shotgun to manage the production can help from everything from distributing shots to review and approval. It can also give you meaningful data to understand how your resources are used in a project. I just can't say enough good things about this pairing.

[video] http://youtu.be/JLw50KX8wPE [/video]

And one final link to help you catch up on all of the Extension 2 goodies.
A big shout out to Grant Kay for getting these videos out on launch day!!

Check out the Flame Learning Channel here; https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqfk4mdQn0sXKP7GEgkDexktXxdCK5FOc

Well... i thnk that catches us up. Now that we're heading into a colder season, maybe I'll be indoors to make the posts a little more regular. I already have another post in mind on something totally different - Flame, Maya & Motion Graphics. Stay tuned and check back often.

-quinn

Quinn

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  • Flame
  • Flare
  • Smoke Advanced
  • Lustre
  • Flame Premium
  • Design Visualization
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