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Fri 9 Jul 2010 04:00 AM

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Fanning the flame

Amit Chitnis and Rohan Rego, Flame artists at Pixion Studios and Tata Elxsi VCL, take Chesta Shah Sengupta through the new features of Flame 2011.

Fanning the flame
Fanning the flame

Amit Chitnis and Rohan Rego, Flame artists at Pixion Studios and Tata Elxsi VCL, take Chesta Shah Sengupta through the new features of Flame 2011.

Whether you work in film, video and television post, or broadcast design, the Flame software can help you take full advantage of your creativity and optimise your efficiency. The 2011 release of this visual effects and 3D design software delivers a wide-ranging feature set, combining high-speed performance with artist-driven tools and flexible, productive workflows. Autodesk Flame 2011 delivers HD and 2K performance to provide artists with high-speed 2D and 3D compositing, advanced graphics production, and client-driven interaction for high quality delivery.

Amit Chitnis, Flame artist with Pixion Studios, has previously worked extensively with Quantel's HAL. On Flame, he has done a lot of work for television channels such as MTV and VH1. He has also executed several commercials for leading brands, Hippo and Axe being some of the latest commercials he has worked on. He prefers the Flame as a compositing tool as he says it is easy to use and is node based.

He does not deny that it took him a while to get around the timeline introduced in the earlier versions, but now with 2011, it has become more efficient and allows him more flexibility to cater to minor editing corrections that the client may want at the eleventh hour. His first reaction to the latest Flame release is the enhanced 3D options and preset textures. "It's a lot more fun now to work with ‘normals' that interact with lighting and other tools in a similar fashion as if one had actually created them, " he says.

Other features he points out are the file management system, better support for RED footage, presets for displacement and the normal mapping mode. "Right up till 2010," he says, "there was a need to transcode RED media to give out DPX files. In 2011, there is no need for that any more," says Chitnis. The open GL support for hardware acceleration is a sting in the tail, as it allows one to view composites in high quality and in real-time without rendering.

In all, Chitnis finds the 2011 visually appealing, cleaner and better for 3D objects with enhanced stereo outputs and user friendly. The only thing he wishes for are presets for particle manipulation as well.

His verdict: He would definitely recommend an upgrade.
Elsewhere, Rohan Rego, senior Flame artist at Tata Elxsi's VCL, has worked on a recently concluded 3D stereoscopic film using the Flame 2011. Having worked as a Flame artist in facilities across the world, Rego is of the opinion that the 2011 is the biggest release to date because of the superior tools for 3D stereoscopy (S3D).

"It's at the top end of finishing products for S3D," he says and definitely his choice for post work. He lists his observations of the Flame 2011 thus: a powerful time line that works well for stereo; it has a built in left and right eye and can lock both for stereo editing.

The VFX compositing tools are all S3D ready. He also thinks that the texture mapping and shading tools help to create backgrounds and textures instantly and are very useful for achieving different looks for promo packaging.

"There is a huge productivity turnaround with 2011," he says. "When you do creative work, you need to see things on the fly-the speed of output has to match your creative thoughts," says Rego. "When you have an impatient director sitting next to you, you need to get your look quick," adds Rego.

Another valuable tool is the multiple output tool, which enables an output of the final files with individual layers, some of which include the Z depth pass, multiples alphas, normal maps etc. The FBX import function allows for stereo camera inputs from Maya as well.

All plug-ins are stereo capable. The speed of 2011, according, to Rego is 4X faster than the 2007 release. Overall, Rego feels that Flame 2011 is a big leap forward for 3D post production work with some really handy features such as multiple outputs, presets for texture mapping, shaders and open EXR. On the flip side, it is still "a little buggy" and although you can access a wide range of external drives, the files sometimes appear non viewable and that needs to be fixed.

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