Up In Smoke

Apple’s Final Cut Pro X and Adobe’s Creative Suite Production Premium have dominated postproduction news recently. During this time, however, a sleeping giant has awoken with a new, all-in-one finishing solution that promises to revolutionize the way we think of post. The giant is Autodesk, and their solution is Smoke.

HDVideoPro visited with Dean Schirm, Solutions Engineer for Autodesk, who describes Smoke as an all-in-one application that "you won’t have to bounce in and out of several different programs." According to Schirm, the advantages Smoke offers is a timeline-based editor that works with both individual elements within the timeline and isolates media elements in modules for more complex effects. The result is a single program doing the work of four or five applications. Autodesk’s boasts about Smoke’s capabilities are impressive, but to explore this further, we reached out to some professionals who not only use Smoke, but also swear by it.

Evan Schechtman is one of the more outspoken proponents of Smoke. Schechtman’s career has shifted from owning his own post facility, Outpost Digital, to selling Outpost to Radical Media and becoming their CTO. Simultaneously, Schechtman has positioned himself as one of the most sought-after minds in the world of postproduction and can be seen at various speaking engagements where you’re likely to hear him speak on the future of production technology.

His main job is to match the creative goals for Radical Media’s projects with the technology needed to accomplish those goals. According to Schechtman, Smoke has helped him immensely. "For me, I saw Smoke as not only being able to raise the bar for the individual online artist, but also have a more powerful set of tools and not have to round-trip more than once," he says. "It can be done with After Effects, or with Photoshop, but there’s something about this ‘super app’ and the sophistication of its tools that raises the bar for the facility’s output."

Autodesk Smoke, an all-in-one finishing application, is a timeline-based editor that isolates media elements in modules for more complex vfx work.

Winner of numerous PromaxBDA awards in 2011, Sweden-based, boutique production company Brokendoll designs and produces commercials, web content, titles and channel branding packages. This group attributes their success to pulling just the right people for each production, but according to director Brett Richards, they also attribute some of their success to Smoke.

"What I really like about Smoke is that it provides proper full-res playback and I/O without any gamma shifts, rendering artifacts and so on," he says. According to Richards, the built-in color correction and effects are great when working on a deadline and having to make changes to the offline in online. "In my old pipeline, offline was done in Final Cut Pro, color correction in Color and FX in Shake. The quality was great, but last-minute changes to the offline made for a big headache and the process wasn’t very comfortable, especially if you had a client hanging on your shoulder."

Founded in 2001, Süperfad has established a lineage of award-winning work for brands such as Honda, Sony, Target, Adidas, AT&T and Cartoon Network. Geraint Owen is the executive producer of Süperfad/NY and an establishing partner of the company. As Owen reveals, the tools to bring forth all of Süperfad’s raw inspiration and talent are crucial, and key among these is Autodesk’s Smoke. Prior to Smoke, Owen says they were almost solely dependent upon After Effects.