Monday, July 24th, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Blackmagic Design releases Fusion Studio 18.5

New features in Fusion Studio 18.5 include initial USD support and a Multi-merge tool. Both are shown in the video above, recorded using DaVinci Resolve 18.5, which includes a version of the Fusion toolset.

Originally posted on 17 April 2023 for the initial beta, and updated for the final release.

Blackmagic Design has released Fusion Studio 18.5, the latest version of its compositing software.

It’s a significant update, adding initial support for USD-based workflows, a new Multi-merge tool for layer-based compositing, a new AI-based depth map tool and GPU-accelerated clean plate and anagylph tools.

Also available inside DaVinci Resolve 18.5
A version of the Fusion toolset is included in DaVinci Resolve, Blackmagic Design’s colour grading, editing and visual effects software, version 18.5 of which has also just been released.

DaVinci Resolve gets more promotional support than Fusion Studio, so the demo video above is actually for DaVinci Resolve 18.5, but the new features shown are common to both applications.

Initial USD support for movie VFX pipelines
One of the key changes in Fusion Studio 18.5 is initial USD support.

Visual effects artists working in pipelines based around the Universal Scene Description get the option to import data in USD format, including geometry, materials, lights, cameras and animation.

The implementation supports .usdc, .usda and .usdz files.

There is also a basic set of tools for manipulating, relighting and rendering imported USD assets: you can find a complete list in this forum post.

New Multi-merge node adds a layer stack to Fusion
Another significant new feature is Multi-merge, a new tool to “connect and manage multiple foreground sources as a composited layer stack”.

It makes is possible to composite shots using a layer-based workflow along the lines of that in tools like After Effects, as well as through the node-based workflow traditionally used in Fusion.

Users can change the order or visibility of foreground sources via a Layer List palette in the Inspector, and edit layer properties like position, size and apply mode via the layer properties palette below.

AI-based depth map generator and GPU-accelerated Clean Plate and Anaglyph features
Fusion Studio also integrates DaVinci Resolve Studio’s AI-based depth map generator, which automatically generates depth maps from source footage, for use in generating effects like fog and depth of field.

The release notes also list GPU-accelerated Clean Plate and Anaglyph features, although there is no more information than that, and “up to 3x faster renders” when using the splitter tool.

Pricing and system requirements
Fusion Studio 18.5 is available for Windows 10+, macOS 12.0+ and CentOS 7.3+/Rocky Linux 8.6+. New licences of Fusion Studio cost $295. The update is free to existing users.

The Fusion toolset in the free edition of DaVinci Resolve has a maximum image resolution of 16k x 16k and lacks network rendering and advanced playback capabilities. See a feature comparison table.

Read a full list of new features in Fusion Studio 18.5 in the online release notes