Production Nuke Finishing

Taught by Alex Fry

Course Number:
Software Version:
Original Run Date:
July 2013 
7 hours 57 minutes 
In this advanced level NUKE course, members explore what it takes to truly take a shot to final, from a film visual effects perspective. Professor Alex Fry, fresh off his stint as lead compositor at Animal Logic for The Great Gatsby, works through several scenes of a recent independent project and show advanced techniques for getting great composites in NUKE.

Many artists are under the impression that getting a shot to final relies merely on technical correctness and creative polish. While those are obviously two major factors, an often-overlooked influenced can be the most critical: the client. And by client that could be a paying client or -- at a facility -- the person the artist is working for: a sequence supervisor, vfx supervisor, director, or even the studio. The reality is that finalling a shot isn't really about any particular skill, but rather responding to feedback correctly and giving people up the chain what they want.

Alex works through advanced techniques and knowledge required for compositing, such as utilizing position data and mastering camera techniques. While at the same time shows how to correctly address feedback from reviews over the iterative process of finalling a shot.

As an example, to 'sell' several shots in a recent feature film, Alex built extensive '3D' background elements of vast complexity all inside NUKE. This avoided vast amounts of rendering and yet still provided randomness and structured animation. Alex also has a very extensive background in building complex NUKE Stereo pipelines for large scale productions, including production stereo color management. This extra work allowed for less front end 3D rendering and brought several huge key shots in on time and on budget, with the flexibility to tweak the shots until the end of the show.

Alex had been lucky enough to avoid getting a 'traditional' job for 13 years. Instead he's been able to make a career out making sure mighty orcs, speeding superheroes, tiny plastic men and glitter covered partygoers are looked as perfect as they could be be (even when shaked, defocused, or optically offset). Alex has plied his trade at many shops including RSP, Weta Digital, DrD and is currently a color pipeline supervisor at Animal Logic.
Production Nuke Finishing
Watch our overview of the course

Class Listing

Class 1

Powerful tools: Position maps. We jump right in with one of Alex's favorite tools, we circle back on some of these concepts but positional maps really show the power of Nuke as a compositor. Position maps, which I have found extremely powerful, can be relatively new to some compositors. We explain what they are, why they are so powerful, especially in for working in Stereo. We also share tricks for manipulating P maps, using them with projection and positionToPoint.

Class 2

Nuke is a three dimensional compositor. To get the most out of the product you need to understand camera. Both how the real world cameras relate to Nuke's and also the flexibility (and limitations) of Nuke's own cameras. We cover Overscan, Rotational order, film backs and stereo camera model. In particular how camera and camera projections work closely together.

Class 3

Metadata tricks. We have some fun working with material were we need to create cameras from EXIF data. In a perfect world all on set data would be provided but often times we need to build back out what happened and complete the metadata jigsaw. This also cover some basic Python tricks and techniques.

Class 4

Working with takes and time and how its different in Nuke. We work with time as a variable: looking at Offsets, Appends and Retiming such as matching to a ref from editorial. It is rare that Nuke artists are not called upon to address timing issues of shots in inside shots, combining multiple takes. This can get confusion and yet is extremely common now from some directors and in some productions.

Class 5

Compositing CG into live action requires more than just matching the black levels and removing edges, we discuss setting up the correct AOVs, mutlipass rendering, correct handling of Matte, patching frames and dealing with issues such as noise, lens distortion and the power of projections over CGI.

Class 6

Depth of Field. One of the great ways to add production value and also sell a shot as real is getting the Depth of Field accurate and matching correctly. From exteriors outside car windows to landscapes beyond windows and just standard compositing work, nothing can give a way a shot as a comp more reliably than an impossible depth of field that mis-matches. I share some really great techniques to getting the DOF right, it seems simple but it is so often finaled incorrectly. You may not know why the shot looks fake, but it will if the DOF is wrong.

Class 7

Colourspace. You cannot professionally finish a shot if you cannot control the color. Color management is vital to have a consistent pipeline, to not lose hours in a major production. We cover 1D luts 3D luts, OCIO, the increasingly important ACES workflow in Nuke and visualising colorspace transformations using positionToPoint.

Class 8

Selling a CG shot. Placing CG in context is often about contact lighting and comping in correct reflections. We look at what you can do to sell a shot and place the CG correctly. Sometimes this is not about technical accuracy, even a perfect HDR CG element may seem to float, we explore grounding your work and polishing a comp. This now extends to Deep color and deep compositing, and placing elements correctly in atmospherics.

Class 9

Putting shots up in dailies and how to sell your shots. Further review of submitted comps.

Class 10

Using particle systems in Nuke to simulate low poly models for filling out background scene elements.