After an incredibly busy couple of months dealing with students' end of courses projects, as well as completing the first shot for my own showreel, I've found the time to work on the next episode of iNuked: my personal project to explore the possibilities of using The Foundry's professional compositing software NUKE, on my MacBook Air.
The topic I've decided to continue with after my first post may seem rather abstract to users within larger pipelines, but fitting if you are someone who has to deal with a multitude of requests: namely converting file formats.
As one of Escape's Studio Assistants, I regularly help students convert footage for their projects, which when comped become shots on their showreel. But when converting movie files into an appropriate image sequence, I'm constantly required to accommodate different CODECs, usually centred around Quicktime. However simple this task may seem, it often proves most frustrating.
For example, we run NUKE on Linux in the studios for our Compositing Courses but provide support for our students who run either Mac OS or Windows on their home PC's. I found that working across these differing operating systems, we never have the same CODEC support out of the box.
As a result we often find ourselves rebooting between OS, hack fixing file extensions or downloading freeware to convert files. Understandably, none of these solutions are ideal, especially when deadlines are tight. This is where the MacBook Air has demonstrated its first strength. For example, it was able to step in with a pre-built script I wrote, loaded with multiple Write Nodes, that was ready to receive each student's sequence, and then write out the footage in the appropriate Quicktime format. Because the MacBook Air is independent from the network and boasts a 250GB Solid State Drive, these renders were adequately fast.
Obviously the situation I've just described only considers my personal requirements, so to try and make this post more objective I will attempt to consider all angles. I understand the MacBook Air has its obvious drawbacks compared to a workstation tower. These include the 11" screen, which often makes navigation a little harder, as well as the ergonomic change from using a track pad as opposed to a Wacom pen and tablet.
So for any freelancer or post house who requires a resource for this particular process, the cost to benefit ratio of having an expensive Mac device on top of an additional NUKE license, makes this solution unfeasible.
Increasingly iDevice Applications are becoming available to download, so a cost effective solution would be if the The Foundry developed a low cost app specifically designed to replicate NUKE's Read & Write Node functionality. This would give users with the full range of rendering capability that Apple have to offer at a more cost effective price.
As an added benefit it may increase The Foundry's market share and make their solutions more accessible to the consumer/prosumer market.
Thanks for embarking on this 'iNuked' journey of discovery with me. Watch this space for part three coming soon and I look forward to reading your comments!
Happy Comping :)