NAB 2019 - Autodesk Flame 2020 Accelerates VFX Workflows with Machine Learning

Autodesk 2020 Face Normals3

Computer vision has developed to the point that, by processing and analysing images, computer programs can be used to extract 3D data from digital imagery, especially when modern machine learning, using patterns and inference to perform tasks, is applied to the huge quantities of related images involved in photogrammetry.

Extracted data can include motion vectors, Z-depth maps and 3D normals based on software analysis of digital stills or image sequences. These values are important because motion vectors store the changes to an image from one video frame to the next, Z-depths hold information about the distance of object surfaces from a viewpoint (such as a3D camera), and 3D normals describe surfaces with a map of perpendicular vectors leading from each polygon in the surface.

As a result of all of this new information that can now be extracted, Flame 2020 includes machine learning analysis algorithms built-in to isolate, follow and modify common objects in moving footage, and help speed up VFX and compositing workflows.

Autodesk 2020 MLdepth2

Z Depth Map Generator

More specifically, new tools resulting from Flame's new algorithms include a Z Depth Map Generator. In this case, Z depth map extraction analysis can be used for live action scene depth reclamation. Colourists or look development artists can analyse a shot quickly and apply effects accurately based on distance from camera. Bryan Bayley, a Flame Artist at Treehouse Edit, finds the Z Depth Map Generator is useful for depth-of-field adjustments as well as speeding up selective colour correction and clean up. 

The Human Face Normal Map Generator takes advantage of the fact that all human faces have in recognisable features in common, for instance, relative distance between eyes, nose, location of mouth and so on. The machine learning algorithms can be trained to find these patterns. The generator can be used to simplify accurate colour adjustment, relighting work and digital beauty retouching.

The Refraction tool makes it possible for a 3D object to refract and distort background objects based on its surface material characteristics. To achieve convincing transparency through glass, ice, windshields and so on, the index of refraction can be set to an accurate approximation of real-world material light refraction.

Autodesk 2020 REFRACTION2

Refraction tool

Flame 2020 in Workflows

Flame 2020 has other new functionality that helps improve efficiency and workflows. For example, an automated background rendering mode is triggered immediately after modifying a shot that sends jobs to process. This Automatic Background Reactor allows Flame artists to keep projects moving using all available GPU and system capacity. It is available on Linux systems only, and can function on a single GPU.

Flame also has new expanded full-width UX layouts specialised for certain types of work. MasterGrade, Image surface, and several Map User interfaces are now available that make it easier to find and access the relevant tools.

Similarly, Manager has been designed for Flame's multilayer compositing tool Action, for its processing node called Image and for the Gmask tracing and tracking node. Manager is a simplified list schematic view that artists can use to make it easier to add, organise and adjust video layers and objects in the 3D environment.

Autodesk 2020 cryptomatte

Cryptomatte rendering

Flame, Flare and Flame Assist version 2020 now includes comprehensive support for OpenFX, the open standard for 2D visual effects or compositing plug-ins. These plugins are supported either as Batch/BFX nodes, or on the Flame timeline. Support is also available in Flame and Flare for the Cryptomatte open source advanced rendering technique (created by Psyop), which gives users a new way to pack alpha channels for every object in a 3D rendered scene.

These updates will be demonstrated at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, April 8-11 between 9am and 5pm in a suite at the Renaissance Hotel.

Flame, Flare, Flame Assist and Lustre 2020 will be available on 16 April 2019 at no additional cost to customers with a current Flame Family 2019 subscription. Linux customers can now opt for monthly, yearly and three-year single user licensing options. Customers with an existing Mac-only single user license can transfer their license to run Flame on Linux.