Card Wipe Transition for Fusion – Developer's Diary

The Glitch Tools macro collection I am working on is, in large part, based on a template for After Effects that we have at work. I am not sure where the template came from, probably VideoHive. In any case, one of the glitches depends on After Effects' Card Wipe transition. That's the kind of thing that Fusion doesn't have right out of the box, but that I think I can reconstruct using the 3d system. Since I have had a number of questions recently about macros and expressions, I thought it might be instructive to document my process on creating this thing.Continue reading →

Blackmagic Fusion: Getting Started

Getting Started in Blackmagic Fusion

These articles are mostly based on Fusion 8.2 build 2 running on Windows 7 with an nVidia GPU. There are some slight differences in the interface between Fusion 8 and previous versions. I will do my best to highlight them as they come up throughout this series. For the first couple of lessons I was using Fusion 7, though, so some of the screenshots will look a little different from your interface, regardless of which version you are using.

A note for Mac users: As is typical with most software, the Windows Control key is Mac's Command key. As I am sure you know that already, I won't continue to insult your intelligence by pointing it out every three paragraphs.

This lesson covers importing footage into Fusion, converting it to linear color, viewing and playing it, and exporting it back out in the file format of your choice. Where Fusion differs greatly from Nuke and After Effects, I will make note of it. Continue reading →

Blackmagic Fusion: Expressions

In order to get some early feedback on this chapter of a forthcoming book, I am publishing it early. There are references to other chapters that have been written but are not currently published. 


Computer Graphics is half art and half science. Some practitioners lean more one way or the other, but all of us blend both disciplines in our work to some extent. Expressions are one way in which you can bring a little bit of engineering into your compositing workflow. They allow you to automate animation, to connect the properties of one node to another, and to use programming techniques to make your tools more responsive and interactive.

In this article, I will take you through several applications of expressions and start to set up a foundation on which we will build a solid understanding of tool development, scripting, and automation in Fusion.Continue reading →

Face Replacement with PFTrack, 3DS Max and Fusion

The first year of my time at Muse VFX was spent almost exclusively on the Disney's Dog With a Blog. For those not familiar with the show, it's about a talking dog that (surprise!) has a blog. In a half-hour sitcom, there were typically 30 – 40 shots of Stan with a CG face. By the time Season 3 came around, we had a pretty bullet-proof and fast pipeline in place.

G. Hannelius as Avery Jennings and Mick as Stan the Dog. Copyright It's a Laugh Productions and Disney Channels Worldwide. Stan's brows, eyes, muzzle and jaw are CGI. His ears, nose, and parts of his cheek are real.

I won't give you all of the pieces here, but I would like to describe one particular technique that made many other things possible.Continue reading →

My Small-Space Media Center

media-serverLiving in a small space, as I do, it is important to maximize the utility of every inch of the place. Generally, I am not doing that so well as I might, but in one area I excel: Had I tried to bring with me my library of books, music and movies, there wouldn't be any room in my apartment for a bed! Now, I'll be the first to admit that there is a certain joy that can be taken in handling a real dead-tree book. I love the feel of the paper; I love the smell; I love being able to freely flip back and forth through the pages. I do not love being a slave to my bookshelf, though, so when I started down-sizing, I had a choice to make: Do I keep all of my wonderful books, or do I find an alternative? Continue reading →

Some Reflections on my Birthday

Or a day after my birthday, at any rate. A quick disclaimer: I have no particular theme in mind for this essay; I reserve the right to ramble. Yesterday I turned 40. Years ago among my parents' friends, there was a tradition to pass around a cane as a gag gift on the 40th birthday. It seemed a little cruel to me at the time, but now that I am here I appreciate the humor: 40 isn't old at all.Continue reading →

An Exploration of Euler's Identity

I have long been fascinated by the mysterious mathematical formula called Euler's Identity. I enjoy it so much that I even have it framed on my wall:



Peculiar taste in art, I know. The print is entitled "Beauty," and somewhere in my apartment is a piece of paper with the artist's name and his description. It's amazing that I can lose something in my tiny residence.

In a recent conversation at Khan Academy, where I have been brushing up on my math and programming skills, someone asked what the relationship was between complex numbers and the trigonometric functions of sine and cosine. I had a vague understanding that they were both related to rotation, and I knew the Identity, but I had never really explored the Identity in depth to truly understand it. I have been thinking about it for two weeks now, and I'm still only about 80% of the way there. Another commenter asserted that it cannot be derived without recourse to Calculus, and maybe that's true if you need a formal proof, but I think an intuitive understanding should be within reach of anyone who knows a little trigonometry. Such as I have puzzled out, I share with you.

Continue reading →

What to Expect on Your First VFX Job

Zach and Steve. And some Daleks.

You've got the reel, you've been through the interviews, you've landed the job, and now you're getting ready to start your first day at a VFX studio. This is the dream job you've been working so hard toward, and you desperately want to not screw up. You go through the usual H.R. rigamarole: W-4's, I-9's, here's the break room, have some candy, report to this or that producer. All of that is easy, just like every other job.

Now comes the hard part, the part that is unlike any job you've had before. Continue reading →

Linking 3d geometry to particles in Blackmagic Fusion

One of my favorite things to experiment with in Fusion is its particle system. They are a fantastic tool to create things like smoke, sparks, and magic. Their utility doesn't stop there, though. A common technique in 3d software is to attach instanced geometry to particles and use the simulation engine to create procedural motion. Fusion can do the same thing, although its tool set for directing the particles is more limited than what you would find in Maya or 3DS Max.

Here you can see a simple particle set-up that I've created for this tutorial:

A simple particle system.
A simple particle system.

Continue reading →