A nice Christmas present if you can afford it, Autodesk has released Smoke 2013 for the Mac. Industry leading keying, nodal compositing, super-accurate tracking and 3D environments all in one app.
It seems a long time since we were sitting in the press briefing at Dream Vision Studios in Las Vegas during NAB when the new Smoke for Mac was announced. Since then there has been a free trial period that seems to have drummed up a large support base for the program.
Quite amazing that the tool's list price is $3,500 which is almost a fifth of the previous version's cost. If you buy before the end of January they will also give you a 20% discount. Still a bit steep for your one man band setup, but maybe Smoke is more geared to high end broadcast and corporate work.
“The anticipation for Smoke, since its thrilling announcement at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Vegas in April, has continued to build throughout the community of creative professionals. As a leader in high-end effects and 3D, Autodesk is committed to making that technology increasingly available to a new generation, and the new Smoke is case in point. The Smoke team has fielded thousands of inquiries and product recommendations in the process of developing Smoke 2013. I’m so excited to announce it’s here,” said Mark Strassman, Autodesk Media & Entertainment vice president strategy and marketing.
Want to see Smoke in action? take a look a this 52 minute demo from NAB 2012. Switch the kettle on!
So would Smoke make a good finishing tool for FCPX? We think so as we can't see the true 3D capabilities of Smoke coming to the FCPX/Motion combination for quite a long time, if ever. It might be slightly overkill should you want just colour correction, but if you need true 3D multi-layer compositing with graphics, greenscreen and whatever else you can throw into a comp, then Smoke is probably the best application for the job.
We still feel that Autodesk would sell more copies and make more money if the price was $999. The post production business is evolving at an alarming speed and the dollars they would lose on the price would be made up by the number of licences sold. We suggest Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve as a superbly positioned product to learn from. A note here to point out that Smoke won't support any Blackmagic or Matrox box for broadcast monitoring, you will have to own an AJA Kona 3 or if you have a Thunderbolt port, an IO XT.
What Smoke will need is the 'Magic 4' requirements on your Mac to get the maximum performance. An SSD, Lots of RAM, fast storage such as a Thunderbolt RAID and a beefy graphics card. Sounds like a very good reason to go out and buy a new Retina MacBook Pro!
It looks like there are a number of companies now producing training materials for Smoke 2013. We managed to find this FCPX to Smoke tutorial from Smoke-Training.com which gave us the info on how to get your FCPX projects into Smoke. The author has pointed out that the tutorial is rather old and uses an out of date beta, so he suggests looking at Grant Kay's conforming video from Autodesk's Smoke Learning Channel.
You can also check out the Autodesk Smoke 2013 tutorials.