Sunday, September 29th, 2019 Posted by Jim Thacker

Foundry ships Nuke 12.0, NukeX 12.0, Nuke Studio 12.0

Foundry has released Nuke 12.0, the latest version of node-based compositing software, adding a Healing Brush-like Inpaint tool, edge extension in keyed and rotoscoped footage, and soft selection in the 3D viewer.

NukeX, the extended edition of the software, gets a new grid warp tracking system, plus most of the nodes from 360° compositing plugin Cara VR, which will be wound down as a commercial product.

Nuke Studio, which adds a multi-track timeline for editorial work, gets improved playback performance.

The release has had the longest gestation period of any major update in Nuke’s recent history, following over two years after Nuke 11.0, and nine months after the last point update.

Inpaint node acts like Photoshop’s Healing Brush for rig and marker removal
Arguably the most eye-catching new tool in the base edition of Nuke is Inpaint, a GPU-accelerated tool for rig, marker and blemish removal, which works like an animatable version of Photoshop’s Healing Brush.

We covered it when Foundry previewed it earlier this year, so check out our original story for full details.

New edge extension options for keyed and rotoscoped footage
Inpainting also powers Nuke 12.0’s new edge extension system for adjusting soft boundary regions around objects when chroma keying or rotoscoping footage.

The GPU-accelerated EdgeExtend node lets users dilate or erode the sampled region, as shown above.

Foundry describes the node as “more performant” than the custom gizmos many users create for edge extension work, being able to recover the source footage’s original high-frequency detail and noise.

Soft selection in the 3D viewport speeds up matte projection workflows
Building on the new selection modes introduced in Nuke 11.3, Nuke 12.0 also adds support for soft selection in the 3D viewer, applying a customisable falloff profile to vertex, face or edge selections.

Suggested use cases include sculpting cards onto which to project matte paintings directly inside Nuke, rather than having to import custom geometry from an external 3D package.

Support for OpenColorIO roles, updates to deep compositing
Other features in Nuke 12.0 include support for OpenColorIO roles. Studios can now create custom names for different colour spaces, helping artists know which LUT to use when importing different project elements.

For deep compositing workflows, the software’s DeepMerge and DeepHoldout nodes have been combined, to avoid duplication of controls.

Performance improvements and support for VFX industry standards
Under the hood, Foundry has improved draw performance for Nuke’s interface, which should increase interactivity when working on complex shots.

Whereas previous releases would lag noticeably on Nuke scripts with over 1,000 nodes, a demo we saw just prior to Siggraph 2019 used a 16,000-node script, described as a “Marvel/Star Wars level of work”.

Performance when reading or writing EXR files has also been improved, particularly when using planar compression algorithms like PIZ, Zip16, DWAA and DWAB.

Foundry’s release notes don’t put a figure on the speed boost, but when we talked to the company before Siggraph, it suggested that reading planar-compressed EXRs was around 1.4x faster than previous releases.

The changes should significantly reduce the time taken to load large Nuke scripts, where reading in files typically accounts for around a third of the processing work.

Foundry has also updated to the current version of key open source libraries and camera SDKs, including VFX Reference Platform 2019, R3D 7.1.0 for RED camera footage, and Sony SDK 3.3.

Nuke 12.0 also reads Avid DNxHR footage in the .mxf container format. All five DNxHR codecs are supported.

NukeX gets new 360° compositing nodes from Cara VR
NukeX 12.0, the advanced edition of the software, gets all of the features from Nuke 12.0, plus a set of six new nodes for compositing 360° virtual reality footage taken from Foundry’s Cara VR plugin.

The nodes provide new ways to solve and stitch footage from multiple camera set-ups, and more options for spherical transforms and working with STMaps than Nuke’s native tools.

Cara VR itself is still available, but with all of its nodes, bar those originally ported over from sister plugin Ocula, now available in NukeX, Foundry intends to stop supporting the standalone edition.

Foundry told us that sales of Cara VR, which was first released in 2016, “exceeded expectations” for two years, but declined as the novelty of 360-degree video wore off, which the industry moving more towards interactive VR experiences.

New grid warp tracking system provides fine control when tracking organic objects
NukeX 12.0 also gets a new grid warp tracking system, described as providing finer control than conventional planar tracking when working with organic shapes like faces.

The new workflow, which builds on Nuke’s existing GridWarp node, enables users to warp tracked footage across custom grid shapes.

The GridWarpTracker node itself is in the base edition of the software, but NukeX users get the option to drive tracking data with Smart Vectors or to use adjustment grids to make non-destructive changes.

Nuke Studio and Hiero: improved playback
Both Nuke Studio and Hiero, the standalone product on which its editorial timeline is based, get new timing and control logic in the playback engine, which Foundry describes as having been “pulled out … and rebuilt”.

The changes should improve performance when playing back high-resolution footage, and is optimised for multichannel EXRs and OpenColorIO workflows.

Pricing and system requirements
Nuke 12.0, NukeX 12.0 and Nuke Studio 12.0 are available for 64-bit Windows 7/10, CentOS 7.4+ Linux, and macOS 10.13+.

Prices are up 5% since last year, with node-locked and floating licences of Nuke costing $4,758. NukeX costs $8,853 and Nuke Studio costs $10,248. Rental pricing is also available.

Read an overview of the new features in the Nuke 12.0 family on the product website

Read a full list of new features in the Nuke 12.0 family in Foundry’s online release notes