Making Shake a competent 3D capable package

Hi guys, I know this is a pretty sizable chunk of text but please read on. 🙂

If you feel like skipping it, please skip to the hi-lighted parts as those are the main questions of the thread.

I had initially posted this on my “3D in Shake, King Kong, LOTR and other considerations.” thread. But as that thread was mainly about if they had used Shake’s 3D in LOTR and Kong and Taffy has pretty much cleared that up, I feel that thread is done and I thought I would break it out into a new thread as it’s changed the course of discussion somewhat.

So, I’ve spent the last week trying to educate myself in 3D compositing, what it actually encompasses and how different applications approach it and the tools offered in them. I have been watching and reading online tutorials, demos and reading a lot about the subject (my head hurts :twisted:) Firstly I would like to say I didn’t find much about Shake in this 3D regard. But I watched dozens of After Effects 3D compositing tutorials and also some Fusion and and many Nuke’s. The Foundry has some very interest 3D demo/tutorial on their website too.
Even not finding much on Shake’s 3D capabilities I could see Shake seems to indeed be quite limited in this regard and even After Effects seems to offer much more 3D capabilities. For example, I may be wrong and if so please correct me but:

AE offers a 3D light and shadows but Shake doesn’t.
AE offers 3D planes in form or grids which you can use to build very basic forms like walls, floors etc and Shake doesn’t.
Because of the above, camera projection/camera mapping is possible in AE but not in Shake.
This is a question rather than a comparison now, but can a warp be applied to Shakes background layer in the multiplane node to make the backdrop curved for 3D spinning around or at least wide pans? I don’t know if AE can either. Since you can’t make a sphere like with Nuke or 3D apps if you could at least warp or somehow curve the background plane of the multiplane node it would work almost the same as long as you don’t have to look up.
Since we are at Shake questions, does Shake offer a HSL key? And is there a bypass node function?

Having the above in Shake would really be great.
But looking at Nuke’s 3D capabilities for example, although it has all of the above and more and they all are great features, I feel Nuke’s 3D starts to dive too much into what a 3D application is and starts to try to be a 3D application too rather than just a compositor. Being able to import obj is a great feature and I wish Shake could do it but being able to actually create 3D objects inside Nuke is a bit much. This is why we have 3D applications for. I’m not sure you can only create primitives or if you can also convert them into polygons or even create polygons but I feel this is not what a compositor is for. It’s a bit like trying to be a bag of tricks with everything. The weird thing is that I have heard that criticism from high end visual effects artists towards After Effects many times. “Shake is not a program that tries to do it all. It is a compositor and it does it well instead of trying to be a hybrid application” etc. But it seems that’s the direction Nuke is going. maybe it was a wrong initial impression but I think Nuke is really going beyond of what a compositor is supposed to be or do, or maybe the industry is changing. But specially in big houses where artists seldom do many tasks, you will have 3D animators and 3D artists to do the 3D work. All you really need in a compositor is to be able to import the 3D and comp it. Being a do all application could make sense for smaller outfits but based on Nuke’s price point this is not really their market.

So based on what I have seen it seems to me most of Shake’s 3D limitations if not all of them could be made up for with the addition of a 3D application to the tool set. This would also give you more power than Nuke’s 3D if you really want to start crossing into 3D.
You could set up all your 3D stuff in a 3D application and then just export to Shake. Set up your scene in 3D then track and composite the shot in Shake. In what ways or types of shots would this workflow/package combo still be limited in comparison to what you can do in Nuke for example?

It seems to me, at least based on what I have seen so far, that in a compositor you don’t really need a 3D environment to compose 3D. It may help and make things easier but doesn’t seem to be a basic need.

I know, maybe you’re thinking well, if you buy Shake + 3DS Max or Maya you are at Nuke’s price or higher. Yes, but you would have much more 3D power if you really want to start messing with 3D or you can go with an application like Cinema 4D which costs much less than Maya or 3DS Max, which is what I’m thinking of doing. The basic C4D is under $1000 so this may be an interesting package combo for small outfits and freelancers till they can justify a Nuke license. Shake+C4D for under $1,500 instead of Nuke for $4,500. 🙂
Thanks to Beaker for pointing me to C4D by the way.

I do know that having it inside your compositor must save a lot of time etc. But I can’t afford Nuke.
Also, keep in mind that I know Nuke is great, but since I can’t afford it or justify it right now I have to find a way to do without it and Shake is still a great compositor and now for an affordable price. So I just have to find a way to complement Shake where it lacks and where I need it, which is 3D.
So this is not a Shake vs. Nuke thread and please let’s not turn it into one. 😉
It’s rather a how to get a Shake based compositing package to do what I need, which just happens to be what Nuke can do.:D

By the way, I saw some Nuke stuff using the old version and the interface was really ugly, unrefined and very basic looking and now the new version looks very streamlined and a lot like Shake’s interface actually. It’s obviously Shake inspired but I’m glad the Foundry improved it.

Thanks in advance for any inputs. This compositing education journey has been a very interesting one and professional input from you guys have made it that much more useful.

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