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New Syntheyes – Better Fusion Support

A new version of Syntheyes just has been released. It features updates to the Fusion export script, including contributions that I had made a while ago.

Since Fusion doesn’t support the Syntheyes distortion model by itself, Syntheyes will set up a UV map distortion/undistortion workflow for you on export. In my experience, the image quality might suffer a bit with strong distortion values since there’s no sub-sampling, but this technique has many advantages. One being the fact that it automatically contains the undistorted image’s resolution that you need for 3D via the UV map.

Fresh ’14: A New Fusion Skin

I’ve written a number of scripts and macros for Fusion, but I’ve never dealt with its theme/skin engine. Since Fusion 7 is about to be released and totally looks like Fusion 6 I’ve drawn a custom skin (or theme) to freshen up the GUI a bit.

updated 2014-11-12: for Blackmagic Fusion 7.5 see paragraph at the end!

Fusion’s skin engine is quite flexible but not everything can be fully themed and customized. I’ve documented the skin file format while building my skin in case other people are interested in delving into this.

So, without further ado, here’s the skin:

Fresh '14 Fusion theme

Download Fresh14.fuskin and place it into your Fusion\Skins directory. Then go to Preferences → Global → Appearance and move “Fresh14” from the left list to the right one (below the Fusion 6.1 entry that is already there).

Credits for the icons:

The skin contains:

  • new tool controls that change the glossy look with one that is consistent and much flatter but still uses bevels and highlights to indicate widgets that you can push or drag.
  • a color scheme that is as desaturated as possible to not be distracting but doesn’t look dull or monochrome.
  • consistent icon style, including new ones for the tracker, the file dialog and the main tool bar. Moreover, many icons in Fusion’s default skin had the wrong size and were being scaled down to fit onto buttons. Not anymore.
  • wider input fields so decimals don’t get cut off all the time.
  • wider margins between certain controls to make the GUI look less cramped.

update 2014-11-12:

Blackmagic Design’s new Fusion 7.5 (free) no longer supports skin preferences. This might hint at a GUI update in the near future but if you want to continue to use Fresh 14 now you need to replace the Fu61.fuskin file in the Fusion\Skins directory manually with a patched version. Read all about it on!

Good things come to those who wait?

Fusion 7 is close to a release. It will go beyond Nuke in some aspects (great stereo tools bundled for free and an impressive-looking scripting console/debugger), finally catch up in other parts (a modular GUI and UV unwrapping in 3D space) and contain lots of fixes and overdue improvements.

Fusion? You know, the compositing software next to Nuke?

Fusion has always beaten Nuke in terms of speed and versatility in a broadcast / commercials area. But eyeon software‘s weird and cryptic marketing, dated website, their unwillingness to communicate a roadmap combined with the fact that Fusion hasn’t been updated for close to two years has pissed off their user base and made most of the industry switch to the software that initially only high end VFX shops were using. There they can profit from a large freelancer base, lots of talented R&D people, 3rd party training and a company that is upfront about future developments and schedules.

And if you’re doing high end VFX you’re just served well with Nuke, no matter how much faster Fusion would be. The motion graphics crowd on the other hand is still served well by AfterEffects. By now, Fusion’s at the bottom of a downward spiral of “less users – less interest of 3rd parties – less tutorials and plugins – less users” that I think is hard to recover from. Eyeon’s latest efforts to tap into the Avid community seem to bear fruits though but the GUI and feature needs of those folks clearly clash with regular compositing artists.

But here’s eyeon software, back from the dead so to speak, with at least a changelog and some videos about what we can expect in Fusion 7. I’ll talk more about the release once I’ve put it to the test myself.

what's newFor now, the “What’s new” PDF instills the feeling that eyeon’s marketing is still bonkers. They start up with the tiniest change. The cool stuff is at the end of the PDF. And it actually touts the standard multi-document (MDI) style of Windows applications as a new feature. Seriously folks, Fusion has had that interface for years and nobody loves it because a crash on one comp pulls down the whole application and nobody has the screen space to lay out two comps side-by-side anyways. This reeks of “grasping at straws” to inflate the feature list which wouldn’t be necessary at all. Fusion 7 promises new 3D tools, UV unwrapping, (screen space) Ambient Occlusion and many GUI improvements and it will include Dimension by default – eyeon’s stereoscopic and optical flow toolset that gives Occula a run for its money. It also seems as if I can update some of my Fuses and macros with new API features.

Stay tuned for a thorough review of different aspects of the Fusion update.

Fusion / Syntheyes Bridge

A while ago I’ve blogged about the planar tracking features of Syntheyes and I’ve finally made some updates to the Fusion exporter to support them. In addition to that, I’ve played around with the Python support in Syntheyes and I’ve written a script that can create and update (!) a comp in a running Fusion instance. This saves you a lot of hassle if you have tweaked a matchmove or added trackers to a point cloud but you don’t want to export a composition from scratch!

The package consists of three scripts: an advanced exporter for Syntheyes, a Python script for Syntheyes that is able to create and update tools from a matchmove (camera, point cloud, planar trackers) and a small tool script for Fusion that sets up a Syntheyes project from a selected Loader. Syntheyes Pro 2013.11 or later required for the Python scripts. Readme included.

The Fusion6 exporter is based on the Fusion5 script that ships with Syntheyes and has been updated in many ways:

  • support for stereo camera pairs
  • support for planar trackers (with or without planar export preparation script)
  • work area (timeline) options as in AfterEffects exporter
  • Create locked cameras to prevent their accidental modifications
  • Added project info to comp’s comments tab and footage name to camera’s comments
  • various fixes like paths and obj meshes
  • convert paths to a Windows format when running Syntheyes on Mac/Linux

Download the Syntheyes / Fusion bridge here.

Monster of Nix

I had heard about the short film “Monster of Nix” by Dutch film-maker Rosto before but I haven’t seen it yet. Now I’ve stumbled upon some breakdowns of the VFX by Daan Spruit. It’s a really great demonstration of the kind of thoughts that already went into shooting the live action elements.

The other 5 clips (overview on vimeo) are great as well. They demonstrate the use of Fusion’s shaders and 3D system to – I’m assuming – cut down on render time for reflections and backgrounds.

Syntheyes Planar Tracking

These videos showing the new 3D planar tracking capabilities of Syntheyes have convinced me to invest in an upgrade:

Speaking of which… I have recently uploaded an updated Fusion export script for Syntheyes to vfxpedia. I wrote it a year ago and submitted it for inclusion but so far, Syntheyes is still shipping with that really old Fusion 5 exporter (which works but is lacking a few features). Here’s what I’ve changed:

  • Support for stereo camera pairs
  • Create locked cameras to prevent their accidental modifications
  • Added project info to comp’s comments tab and footage name to camera’s comments
  • Fixed cross-platform problems for object paths in FBXMesh
  • Generate meshes that are positioned correctly when imported into Fusion.
  • Nodes aligned to grid and spaced for tile pictures
  • Disabled clip lists in Loader, fixed length calculation and supported QuickTime
  • Updated input names of 3D tools (SceneInput and Output instead of “Data3D”)
  • Characters other than alphanumeric letters are invalid in node names and will be replaced by “_”

All of it is based on the Fusion 5 script (C) Russ Andersson and is provided AS IS without any warranty.

Download fusion6.szl here and put it into Syntheyes’ user scripts folder.

Looking at the latest exporters for AfterEffects, I can see that this script might still not be up to par so I’m currently revamping the script to fix some bugs and add support for planar trackers.

Still, the connection between Fusion and Syntheyes ought to be much closer as both support Python scripting now! My plan is to write some scripts for both applications so they can share cameras and point clouds much more seamlessly. Let me know if you have ideas on how to approach such a workflow! For starters, I was thinking of a “Track This” tool script for Fusion that sets up a scene in Syntheyes.

update 03/2014: I’ve released such a script.

Countdown #6

Another video for the Fusion webinar countdown.

You can download the comp here. You’ll need one of my fuses and Krokodove 5.70 alpha as well as this font.

Music: Berry Nuggons by EAT! (cc-by)