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February 2017

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Page 36 of 43 35 POST REVIEW 've been a Flame user for 15 years, and it helps me solve pretty much every creative challenge I encoun- ter. Even when creating a simple image comp or storyboard, I'll jump into Flame over other software because I'm com- fortable with it and have so many tools at my disposal. While I get something out of every new release, Flame 2017 Extension 1 touches on every aspect of my workflow. The improvements are extensive, but I'll give you a rundown of the ones I've been tapping regularly. IMPROVED MAYA INTEROP I constantly bounce between Autodesk Maya and Flame, and once I finish a render in Maya and start my composite in Flame, the interop improvements are immediately apparent. Navigating and grouping complex geometry, especially in the .FBX workflow, is clean and simple. When I create complex .FBX files in Maya and export them to Flame, they're simpler to work with. And, I can get materials out of Flame and into Maya easier. EXR HANDLING I rely heavily on a multichannel EXR workflow when comping Maya renders in Flame. In previous releases, the only way to access a multichannel EXR clip was in Batch through the Read File node. In 2017 Extension 1, I'm now able to bring an EXR file (as well other multichannel file formats) into Flame under its managed media "umbrella." There are two major benefits to this: First, multichannel clips can now be accessed anywhere in the application, and they can be treated like any other clip in Flame. Two, multichannel clips can now be cached for speed and media management purposes. The fact that these clips can now be included in all my Flame archives and don't have to be managed separately is huge. AUTOMATIC COLOR MANAGEMENT Though I'm no color science expert, the advances in this release are significant. It's amazing the depths Autodesk has gone to integrate color management into Flame and make it as involved (or separate) from your process as needed. They've simplified a complex, nuanced and challenging concept and made it accessible to users with less experience who have to navigate the increasingly complicated world of digital file delivery. Automatic color management removes the guesswork when an unusual deliverable comes in. And, if you're a color management expert, there's tremendous flexibility and endless customization options to have the tool fit your specific needs. For my workflow, I'm able to set my batch workspace to scene linear, broad- cast monitor to Rec. 709 and graphics monitor to whatever presets are needed, and just work. The way footage looks on my monitors is completely managed by Flame. If I touch a scene linear clip, my broadcast and graphics monitors will switch to scene linear, and I'm seeing that material gamma corrected perfectly as if I were looking at it in Rec. 709; no switching required. Setting up rules for my workflow is also straightforward. If I have a multi- channel open EXR file in my scene linear color management preset, that EXR is automatically tagged as scene linear Rec. 709. I don't have to tell Flame what it is unless I want to manually customize it. If I get new materi- al shot in LOG, and I incorporate it into the composite, I just tag it as "LOG" and transforms automatically happen so it's scene linear compat- ible, saving me time. I can also export material with the viewing trans- form I've been working with, to be sure what I'm exporting matches exactly what I've been seeing throughout the process. UPGRADED ACTION RENDER QUALITY I often have to envision and execute concepts on the fly, but don't always have the time to dive into Maya for look dev. There are some next-level improvements in the extension to physically based textures and shaders, and image-based lighting when working with 3D materials in action. They allow me to get incredible quality visuals out of action in realtime — without applying additional Sparks or processing. With new physically based shaders, I can also better adjust surfaces for reflection material and roughness. MAYA-ESQUE 3D SCENE NAVIGATION Being a Maya artist, I'm familiar with navigating Maya, and all of this functionality, right down to the hotkeys I use to move, rotate, scale and navigate my scene, have been translated into Flame with this extension. There's also a new working camera that allows me to set up and move in my Flame scenes like I would in Maya. It's a feature I've been hoping for a very long time and I'm really excited about it. Even though this is an extension release, the features added are a testament to the fact that Autodesk is reimagining the way Flame works. To sum it up: The extension release is accessible, fast and powerful. If it's an indication of the direction Flame is headed, I'm excited to see it grow as it continues down this path. BY DAVID KLINKOWIZE EDITOR, DESIGNER, VFX ARTIST & MAYA GENERALIST REVEAL 42 NEW YORK CITY REVEAL42.COM AUTODESK FLAME 2017 EXTENSION 1 AN ACCESSIBLE, FAST & POWERFUL RELEASE VITAL STATS MANUFACTURER: Autodesk PRODUCT: Flame 2017 Extension 1 PRICE: Monthly: $750; quarterly: $2000; annual $6000 WEBSITE: • Enhanced multichannel media management • Active color management system • Image-based lighting (IBL) • 3D scene navigation and physically-based shading in action I

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