Blackmagic Fusion : Getting Started

Blackmagic Fusion is a node-based compositor, which Blackmagic recently acquired from Eyeon Software. Similar to other high-end compositors like Nuke and Flame, Fusion uses a nodes for visualizing compositing work. This way of working may seem strange to artists accustomed to layer-based compositors such as Adobe After Effects, but I urge you to give it a try. In the end, compositing is the technically the same process in any system, just using different tools, plug-ins, etc. Blackmagic has taken its traditional aggressive development and pricing structure and applied to to Fusion, offering a free version with a few limitations, and a "Studio" full featured version for $995. 

To help you start your journey with Blackmagic Fusion, I;ve gathered a variety of resources that should show you the basics and demonstrate the potential of the application. I've barely scratched the surface of the application myself, but I'm already extremely impressed with what I see. Also, I'm encouraged by how aggressively Blackmagic tends to develop software, judging from Resolve, so I assume this is just the beginning. 

 

Although from a slightly older version of Fusion (v6, current is v8.2.1), this "cheat sheet" should come in handy when you first start working with Fusion. Please remember that some things may have changed, especially since Blackmagic acquired the software development from Eyeon right after v7.5 and added its own UI enhancements & features in the V7.7 and V8 beta releases.  (If you created this chart, please let me know so I can properly credit you.)

FusionCheat

Colorist Jason Myres provides a very useful guide to optimizing performance in Fusion 7, which is still valid for Fusion 8. Absolutely worth a look before you start doing major work within the application.  

Some great BTS examples of professional work completed using Fusion & Fusion Studio include Hollywood feature films & popular Television series, such as :

Outside of mainstream television and film, you can find Fusion being used to do some fairly complex compositing work, as demoed by VFX Artist Alf Lovvold in his 3-min epic short film and breakdown, all composited in Fusion. 

VFX Breakdown

Alf has started a teaching the basic of Fusion with a set of tutorials on his Vimeo page, so I urge you to follow him for future updates and tutorials. Below is an example of one of his tutorials.

In this series of videos, VFX Artist Alkesh Nanavaty demonstrates some advanced techniques such as projection mapping, 3D particles, tracking, and overall pipeline between applications as he re-creates a shot similar to one seen in the Hollywood blockbuster, "Transformers 2".

Kert Gartner of VFXHaiku.com breaks down a detailed greenscreen composite in this 40 min node-by-node breakdown. Highly recommended if you are interested in seeing a more advanced composite broken down, and Kert spends some time explaining his reasons for using each node.  

Overview: Blackmagic Fusion v8.2 offers a very intuitive node based compositor, both a highly usable free version and a fully featured "Studio" version, which includes OFX support and collaborative features, version for $995. It is an easy application to jump into with even the most basic knowledge of compositing, and I highly recommend you download the free version, even if to try out a few things and see if it fits your style of working. The free version is remarkably powerful and capable, like Resolve, until you need 3rd party OFX plug-ins , optical flow, and collaborative functionality, which is only available in the "Studio" version. The biggest issue I see with the application is the lack of training, which isn't an issue with the application but more of a reflection of how the industry views the application. Hopefully, the recent acquisition by Blackmagic will change that, as they've applied their usual tactics of aggressive pricing & development. 

If you are interested in trying out Fusion, stop by Blackmagic's website to download the free version or purchase the studio version here.