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Blackmagic Design ships Fusion 16 Studio in beta

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 | Posted by Jim Thacker

 
Blackmagic Design has released Fusion 16 Studio, the latest version of its compositing software, in public beta. The beta was released at NAB 2019 alongside the beta of post production suite DaVinci Resolve 16.

The update rolls out the improvements made in the version of Fusion integrated inside DaVinci Resolve to the standalone application, and enables DaVinci Resolve hardware dongles to run Fusion Studio as well.

However, the old free edition of Fusion has been discontinued in favour of the free edition of Resolve itself.

New UI, expanded GPU support, and better memory management
Despite the name, Fusion 16 Studio is actually the successor to 2017’s Fusion 9 Studio – the hike in version numbering seems to have been to bring it in line with DaVinci Resolve.

Blackmagic Design’s press release describes it as “the biggest update we’ve ever released for Fusion software” – although in practice, the features aren’t entirely new, just new to the standalone edition.

The update rolls out the changes the firm to the Fusion compositing toolset when it was incorporated inside DaVinci Resolve 15 last year.

As well as an “updated and more modern user interface” – a mixed blessing, judging by early user feedback – that means expanded GPU acceleration.

All 3D operations are now GPU-accelerated, along with key features including time effects, dissolves, vector motion blur and stereoscopic 3D and colour tools.

GPU processing now supports Nvidia’s CUDA and Apple’s Metal APIs as well as the open standard OpenCL, which should improve performance on those companies’ hardware.

Existing OpenCL add-ons will need to be rewritten before they work with the new architecture.

There are also more general performance improvements – Blackmagic Design’s announcement singles out planar and camera tracking, and mask operations – and improved memory management on large comps.

Old free standalone edition discontinued, but you can still get the tools for free in Resolve
The old free edition of the software, which worked on footage up to UHD resolution, has now been discontinued, although most of the tools are still available in the free edition of DaVinci Resolve.

You can see a feature comparison between the two editions here.

Since the release of DaVinci Resolve 15 last year, hardware dongles for the commercial Studio version of the software can also be used to run Fusion Studio.

Still being updated as a standalone product, despite many users’ fears
While the new features could be seen as DaVinci Resolve’s hand-me-downs, the news that Fusion 16 Studio has been released as a standalone product at all has come as welcome news to Fusion users.

When a major update to the standalone edition failed to materialise last year, speculation began to grow on Blackmagic’s forum that it was being discontinued in favour of DaVinci Resolve.

Despite Resolve now containing most of the same tools, many VFX artists felt it was an inadequate substitute, regarding it as a less focused tool for general post-production work.

This forum post by former Framestore compositing supervisor Theodor Groeneboom summarises the key criticisms, which centre on the differences in the underlying architecture of the two apps, and the difficulty of making Resolve scale to complex VFX projects.

The consensus on the forum now seems to be that Blackmagic Design has heard those criticisms, and is going some way towards addressing them.

Updated 10 April 2019: We contacted Blackmagic Design about future support for the standalone edition.

They told us: “The standalone version … will now receive updates each time a new build of DaVinci Resolve Studio is released. We are able to maintain that as DaVinci Resolve and Fusion now share a video base.”

Pricing and availability
Fusion 16 Studio is available in beta for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. New licences cost $299.

Read a full list of new features in Fusion 16 Studio in the online changelog

Visit the Fusion Studio product website

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