Wednesday, March 17th, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Foundry ships Nuke, NukeX, Nuke Studio & Nuke Indie 13.0

Foundry has released Nuke 13.0, a major update to the node-based compositing software.

The main new feature is the AIR nodes: part of a radical new machine learning framework that enables artists to train their own AI networks to automate repetitive tasks like roto work and marker removal.

Other changes include a new viewport based on Hydra, the Universal Scene Description’s rendering framework; expanded USD import and export; new monitout out options; and native Cryptomatte support.

All are available in both Nuke and NukeX, the expanded edition of the software. Nuke Studio, which adds a multi-track timeline for editorial work, also gets new synchronous real-time shot review system Sync Review.

The releases were announced during the company’s Foundry Live 2021 online user event.

New machine learning framework lets VFX artists train their own neural networks
The most ground-breaking feature of the release is undoubtedly the new AIR nodes, part of a new machine learning framework intended to help automate repetitive visual effects tasks.

Unlike the AI-based features recently added to software like Autodesk’s Flame, it isn’t simply a set of readymade tools that have been trained using machine learning techniques.

Instead, the framework enables artists to train their own neural networks using their own image sequences.

The process begins with the CopyCat node, which processes source images to train a network.

Users feed in both raw frames and ‘ground truth’ images – the same frames after VFX operations have been performed on them – for CopyCat to generate a neural network from.

The trained network can then be processed by the Inference node, which then applies the same operations automatically to the remaining frames in the sequence.

Suggested use cases include automating repetitive tasks like roto, garbage matting, marker removal and beauty work, but the system works with “any image-to-image task”.

All editions of Nuke 13.0 ship with two pre-trained nodes: Deblur, for removing motion blur from footage; and Upscale, a GPU-accelerated alternative to the TVIScale node for up-resing footage by up to 2x.

We’ve written about the AIR framework in more detail in our report on the Foundry Live 2021 session, so check out this story for more technical details and images from Foundry’s demos.

Nuke, NukeX and Nuke Studio 13.0: new, higher-fidelity Hydra-based 3D viewport
The other key change in all editions of Nuke 13.0 is the new Hydra Viewer, based on the HdStorm renderer from Pixar’s Universal Scene Description framework.

It should provide higher visual fidelity than the old viewport, particularly for materials and lights, reducing differences between the viewport preview and frames rendered using Nuke’s Scanline Renderer.

In the medium term, the new viewport is also intended to make it easier to integrate Nuke with other VFX applications that support Hydra, including third-party renderers, and Katana, Foundry’s look dev toolset.

Viewport rendering is GPU-accelerated via OpenGL – so it should run on any manufacturer’s hardware – although it isn’t necessarily truly real-time for complex scenes.

Foundry says that the Hydra viewport will continue to evolve over subsequent releases, but that the initial implementation supports “nearly all existing workflows”.

In addition, the 13.0 release expands Nuke’s support for the USD file format itself, with the option to load cameras, lights and axis data from a .usd file via the relevant 3D nodes in Nuke.

Foundry is open-sourcing the new USD extensions via its GitHub repository, making it possible for studios to tailor them to their own pipelines.

Nuke, NukeX and Nuke Studio 13.0: display output on a second display, even wihout a monitor out card
Other new features common to all editions of Nuke 13.0 include new options for the monitor out system, used for viewing output on a second monitor.

Nuke and NukeX users get the same floating window already available in Nuke Studio, removing the need for a dedicated SDI card when using a second display.

It’s possible to set the display resolution individually for the two monitors, and to edit display properties independently: for example, changing the gamma settings of the viewport but not the external display.

Mac users also get the option to display HDR images on Apple XDR- or EDR-capable monitors.

The functionality was originally introduced as a hidden feature in Nuke 12.2, and is still experimental: it’s disabled by default, and must be enabled through preference settings.

Nuke, NukeX and Nuke Studio 13.0: native support for Cryptomatte and Python 3.7
New pipeline integration features include native support for the Cryptomatte ID matte-generation system, widely adopted in other VFX applications, but previously only available via a third-party extension.

Features added in the native version include the option to perform wildcard searches on matte elements.

The release also moves Nuke to the CY2020 specification for the VFX Reference Platform, including its most significant change: the move from Python 2.x to Python 3.7.

Studios that haven’t updated fully to Python 3 will be able to use Nuke 12.2 for at least another year: Foundry says that it plans to roll out bugfixes and security updates for both versions throughout 2021.

There are also changes to OpenColorIO (OCIO) roles and SDK updates including ARRI RAW, Avid DNxCodec, DNxHR and DNxHD. You can find a full list of changes via the links at the foot of the story.

Nuke Studio 13.0 only: new real-time synchronous review system Sync Review now out of beta
In addition, Nuke Studio users get the official release of Sync Review, the new synchronous real-time shot review system introduced in beta in Nuke Studio 12.2.

The initial implementation focused on enabling collaborators in different locations around the world to play back footage simultaneously, but latest version expands that to all key tasks for a review session.

New features in the 13.0 release include the option to sync timelines, import footage, and to create or modify soft effects, and transmit the changes to the other people in a review session in real time.

All key features available in Nuke Indie 13.0, bar some restrictions on machine learning
Almost all of the key features from the release are also available in Nuke Indie 13.0, the latest version of the new $499/year edition of Nuke aimed at solo artists earning under $100,000/year.

The one caveat is neural networks generated using the new CopyCat node, which Nuke Indie excrypts in its own file format, making them impossible to use in the full editions of Nuke.

However, .cat files generated in NukeX or Nuke Studio can be used in Nuke Indie.

Pricing and system requirements
Nuke, NukeX and Nuke Studio 13.0 are available for Windows 10, CentOS 7.4+ Linux, and macOS 10.15+.

The price has risen since the previous release, with both node-locked and floating licences now costing $5,248. NukeX costs $9,768 and Nuke Studio costs $11,298. Rental pricing is also available.

Artists with revenue under $100,000/year can also use Nuke Indie 13.0, including on commercial projects. It’s rental-only, and is priced at $499/year. See a list of feature restrictions of the Indie edition here.

Read an overview of the new features in the Nuke 13.0 family on the product website

Read a full list of new features in the Nuke 13.0 family in Foundry’s online release notes