SIGGRAPH 2017: Blackmagic Launches Fusion 9

fusion-9-2

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

SIGGRAPH 2017Blackmagic Design announced a major update to their special effects and compositing software Fusion. Designed to support ultra high definition workflows, as well as virtual reality, Fusion 9 comes with a ton of new features for crafting visual effects on a budget that look like you spent millions of dollars.

“Fusion 9 adds the new features and tools customers have been asking for, supports more formats and newer workflows than ever before, has even more GPU and OpenCL acceleration, and a new dramatically lower price! This makes Fusion even more accessible than ever before. Plus, the new collaboration tools and free unlimited network rendering will change the way large studios work.” – Grant Petty, CEO Blackmagic Design

The Fusion 9 update contains several new tools, including new keyer technology, planar tracking, camera tracking, multi-user collaboration tools, and virtual reality features. Planar Tracking is accomplished by calculating planes and parenting them to a moving subject. The tracker can replace signs and other flat objects, rotoscope shapes, and automatically animate motion, perspective, position, and scale as the image changes.

“Fusion is an integral part of my editing process and I’ve used it extensively for years. Blackmagic Design is continuously improving Fusion and it shows in this update with the multitude of new features, including new planar tracking. Fusion’s integration with editing programs makes what was once impossible for an editor to accomplish easy! I love it.” – Alan Edward Bell (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Hunger Games, The Dark Tower)

The new camera tracker can also take live action subjects in your source footage, and mimic their movement in 3D space for use with the 3D virtual camera found inside of Fusion. The result is matched movement and perspective of the original, meaning that motion capture becomes easier than before. Fusion 9 will also calculate and adjust lens focal length and create virtual lens distortion, keeping the image natural to its real world surroundings.

fusion-9-1

In virtual reality workflows, Fusion has added support for VR headsets, such as Oculus Rift and the HTV Vive, making it easier to craft visual effects within the VR workspace from a first-person point of view. Blackmagic has fine tuned GPU acceleration, so that users can work with all elements within the virtual space in real time. Plus, they’ve added a 360˚ spherical camera tool that can render out VR scenes in a single pass.

Blackmagic has also made unlimited network rendering free, eliminating the need for paying a license fee for each render node needed. All a post-production house needs to do is pay a single license fee and install as needed.

This also means that Fusion can be used with multi-user collaboration. Blackmagic has added a new Studio Player which can play back shots from a playlist, compare to a storyboard, and track version history with annotations and notes. Remote sync will keep those working in multiple locations, even around the world, synced up, and a bin server will contain shared assets and tools, easily accessible.

And while Fusion 9 works in the cloud, it isn’t dependent upon staying connected to it for any updates. Blackmagic has adjusted the update procedure so that it requires consent, and users can schedule an update to happen after a workflow session upon exiting. It also allows for security to keep Fusion cut off from potential hacking.

I gotta say I like that Fusion 9 is giving After Effects a run for its money. Rather than being content with being “the other guys” in visual effects, Blackmagic continues to go toe-to-toe with new features, and freeing up rendering for unlimited use, which will save effects houses a boatload of money in a time where margins are razor thin. Coupled with DaVinci Resolve, there’s really nothing you don’t do that Creative Cloud does, save live animation. I can’t wait to try it out.

Fusion 9 is the free version that you can download from the Blackmagic website, and existing Fusion Studio customers can upgrade to Fusion 9 Studio for free. New customers can purchase Fusion 9 Studio for $299.

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.