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Autodesk Smoke for Mac OS X Beta Sight

Feb 9, 2010 12:00 PM, By Alexandre Domingue, owner, Post-Moderne, Montreal

Finishing software helps keep profitable postproduction work inhouse.


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Alexandre Domingue, owner of Post-Moderne in Montreal, says Autodesk Smoke helped his camera rental and postproduction keep profitable post work inhouse.

Alexandre Domingue, owner of Post-Moderne in Montreal, says Autodesk Smoke helped his camera rental and postproduction keep profitable post work inhouse.

We at Post-Moderne were approached by our fellow Montrealers at Autodesk in September 2009 to see if we'd be interested in beta testing Smoke for Mac OS X. Smoke is an editorial finishing system with tools for editing, conform, titling, color correction, stabilization, tracking and keying, paint, roto, and retouch. It has been a turnkey system on Linux for years, and Autodesk just released Smoke for the Mac, its first finishing product for that platform.

At the time, we looked at the beta test experience as an opportunity to provide feedback to Autodesk and get a sneak peek at Smoke on Mac. Now that we've had it for a few months, it's clear that this software could potentially have a significant impact on our business—and not just creatively. The ability to finish projects inhouse in a single package that runs on the same platform as our editing systems gives us another business line.

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Post-Moderne is a small, full-service postproduction and camera-rental facility. We have five Mac-based editing suites (a mix of Apple Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer), Apple Color for color grading, and Adobe After Effects and Photoshop, Autodesk Combustion, and software plug-in packages for graphics and image enhancement. We have full VTR capabilities with Sony HDCAM SR decks and Blu-ray compression. We work on everything including feature films, documentaries, broadcast, commercials, and corporate projects.

Smoke uses the same platform and AJA Kona video cards on which we're already running our editing software, so we were able to integrate it right into our workflow. We know the Mac platform and can support it with existing resources.

Our assistant editor and I both learned the software, but we brought in well-known Smoke/Flame artist Luc Bellerive for the first client projects we finished on Smoke. Those were two music videos: "Âme soeur" for Francis d'Octobre and "Allez, viens" for Wilfred Le Bouthillier, both shot on the Red Digital Cinema Red One camera. We did the edit on Final Cut, as is our typical process. Then, instead of sending the client to a different facility to do the online or transferring the cut between different packages for color correction, titling, keying, etc., we did the whole finishing process inside Smoke. This was significant for us. In the past, we'd have to do multiple conversions to move the project between packages. We would make QuickTime files work in After Effects, do the titles in Combustion, transfer again for Photoshop, and again for grading. We couldn't really finish projects in client sessions because of the time those conversions took. That changed with Smoke.

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