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Combustion 4 Announced

New features to improve workflow By Stephen Schleicher

Today, Discreet announced the forthcoming release of combustion 4, an upgrade to its desktop compositing & paint application.  Digital Media Nets Stephen Schleicher caught up with combustion Discreet Training Specialist Ken La Rue to talk about some of the new features and improvements including the new Discreet Keyer, Capsules, B-Splines, and the time remapping Operator Time Warp.

Ken La Rue has been in the computer graphics industry for the past 20 years. He was the Art Director for an advertising company in Chicago for 13 years before jumping into the video and motion graphic industry in 1998. He was the Creative Director for Technical Animations and Video were besides his production of video projects for clients in the corporate world he also wrote, produced and presented training videos and DVDs for both combustion and 3ds max.

In 2003 he started his own company The Street Productions, Inc. His company offers consulting, training and services in video, 3d animation, web and graphic design.

In 2003 he also became 1 of only 7 combustion DTS (Discreet Training Specialist) in the world. He worked as a combustion demo artist for Discreet at trade show such as NAB, Siggraph and DVExpo. In 2004 he was hired as a full time employee by Discreet as combustion Application Engineer.

Besides using combustion and 3ds max for production Ken has also taught combustion classes from DePaul University in Chicago, IL to a variety of discreet resellers and training centers across the US. His company The Street Productions creates and sells training DVDs for the combustion user and has several new training DVDs in the works.

Digital Media Net:  Ken, how big of an update is this?

Ken La Rue:  There are a couple of very big new features in combustion 4.  One of them being the Diamond Keyer, which is based on the color warper from flame, flint, inferno.  We already have the Discreet Keyer, which was written many years ago before DV footage and the other formats came in.

DMN:  Last week I wrote about using the Discreet Keyer in combustion 3.  What is different with the Discreet Diamond Keyer?

KLR:  With the Discreet Keyer, obviously as you pointed out, DV footage is really hard to key with this thing.  The new keyer in combustion 4 definitely helps, but is not specifically written to work with DV footage.  It is just different algorithms on how it understands color space.

The Diamond Keyer works much better and is a little more intuitive.  The basic concept is you apply the Diamond Keyer by itself, and then add different things like Matte Control, Color Suppression, etc. 

DMN:  So these are all different operators you apply separately instead of inside the keyer itself?

KLR:  Exactly.  Some people feel that you look at the (old) Discreet Keyer and think, ?What is all this???  They think they have to use every part of it to achieve a key.  And you dont have to.  The problem is, a lot of times people start tweaking things and dont realize that what they are tweaking is messing up what they just created a minute ago.  The new keying system is built on a node by node basis.

DMN:  This streamlines it a little better.

KLR:  Exactly.  It also leads to another big addition in combustion 4, which is Capsules.  These allow you to select several nodes of any operator in the Schematic View and encapsulate them.  So lets say we are working with the Diamond Keyer.  We can go in there and have access to the color spectrum, plotting color, etc.  There are two sets of triangles in the color spectrum one is for your softness and the other is for your tolerance.

Click for larger image (771x550)

You can very easily go in there and start grabbing these triangles and decide what level of pixels colors you are going to place in for softness, tolerance, etc.  At the bottom, you have sliders for luminance range and for tolerance and softness as well. 

When you see this Stephen you are going to be very impressed with it.  I am very impressed with it.  Just quickly dragging and clicking and you have a very clean matte for your key.

Once you have that set, you apply a keyer color suppression operator, and maybe you need to add a matte control operator as well.  When you have everything set, you have three nodes working together on that layer.  In the Schematic View you can go in and select all three of those nodes or as many as you want then Right+Click and encapsulate the operators as one.

DMN:  Is this similar to nesting?

KLR:  Yes, we can save that and even better, repurpose that for other uses.  For example, you could create a capsule for footage you receive from a specific post house.  You can use that and use it as a starting point for that project.  Of course you will always have access to the full controls inside the capsule.  But what is also really nice is you have a control panel in the capsule which you can modify to allow only certain controls to be seen.

DMN:  Can you explain how that would be useful?

KLR:  Lets say you want to give control of certain functions to other users, but dont want them to mess with anything else.  You can go in and give control or even constrain or constrict amounts of what a slider would do.  Noise is a basic example.  If I wanted everybody to be able to adjust the noise in an Operator inside a capsule, I can do so very easily by setting that as the only control in that panel.

DMN:  Sounds very much like saving a favorite in After Effects.  It allows you to program a default for particular footage where you can drop it in and know what parameters you need to change.

KLR:  It is almost like building your own plug-ins using the Operators inside of combustion.

DMN:  Is this something that could be forward and backwardly compatible with Discreets other application?

KLR:  No.  This is written just for combustion user to combustion user.  It is not something that can be compatible with our other systems because so many of the Operators in combustion are not compatible with flame, flint, and inferno.


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Related Keywords:combustion, discreet, keyer, discreet keyer, diamond keyer, b-splines, ken la rue, stephen schleicher, interview, product preview


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