Nuke Indie: Everything you need to get started

When it comes to creativity, nothing should feel out of reach. This is the same when choosing the right software for you; it should inspire you to be creative. 

That’s why we created Nuke Indie.

Combining industry-leading node-based compositing with formidable speed and flexibility, Nuke Indie allows solo artists to create high-quality visual effects at an accessible price.

For many, making the decision to purchase a new toolset can be a daunting prospect. But, we want your transition to Nuke Indie to be as seamless as possible, so you can get started on all the exciting projects we know you have waiting. 

We caught up with Christy Anzelmo and Chris Andrewartha, Director of Product and Associate Product Manager - Compositing & Finishing, to answer all the key questions you need to know when getting started in Nuke Indie—let’s get going! 

Christy and Chris Photocard

Why Nuke Indie?

Christy: We know that there are a lot of artists out there who want to use Nuke, whether that be for personal projects or work outside of a studio, but aren’t in the position where they can maintain a full license themselves. 

We wanted to give artists the option to choose Nuke if they wanted to—that’s why we created Nuke Indie. This puts the power of Nuke into reach for artists creating indie projects or commercial work in Nuke on their own.


So, exactly what tools are included with Nuke Indie?

Christy: The compositing toolset in Nuke Indie includes all the nodes in Nuke and NukeX. This includes all of the core tools that you would expect for prepping and comping a shot: keying, tracking, roto, projections, OCIO color management and so forth. The advanced NukeX tools, like the Smart Vector toolset, Furnace Core, and the Particle system, speed up common clean up tasks and extend what you can do in comp without jumping into another package or re-rendering. 

Chris: The advanced plug-ins, and especially the Smart Vector Toolset, are designed to help speed up clean-up tasks that can be some of the hardest, most time intensive, manual work to do, and allow you to get to the final pixel faster. 

In other packages, you’ll often only be able to automate around 60% of these complex clean up tasks before you have to switch to more manual processes, while the tools in Nuke will get you 90% of the way there. Having Smart Vectors as part of Nuke Indie gives artists more power and adds extra dimensions to your work.

Christy: Another example of the advanced tools in Nuke Indie is Kronos. This node is one of the most powerful retimers out there. It analyses the motion in the shot and generates motion vectors that are then used for retiming footage with fine control. What’s more, Kronos is one of several retiming tools available!

Nuke Indie also includes all of the Cara VR nodes that ship with NukeX. This means you get all the tools for warping and stitching, as well as specialized tools for working with 360 video, and the ability to review your work in a headset from the nodegraph or timeline. 

Of course, Nuke Indie is built from Nuke Studio, which offers an editorial timeline in addition to the NukeX nodegraph. With Nuke Studio, you can review and manage your multishot projects in one place, and even conform footage if you need to. 

CaraVR Nuke Indie

Can you run us through which plug-ins Nuke Indie will support?

Christy: As part of the most recent maintenance release, 12.2v3, we’ve added support for third-party OFX plug-ins to Nuke Indie. This enables plug-ins like Mocha Pro and Silhouette Paint from BorisFX, and Neat Video from NeatLab (ABSoft) to run in Nuke Indie.

We’re working with plug-in developers to add support for popular commercial plug-ins based on the NDK (Nuke’s C++ SDK) in the future. Nuke Indie can also read in gizmos and example scripts that are created in commercial Nuke, including those shared by the user community. 


What is a forced version upgrade?

Chris: This is a common question that we’ve heard from artists who have not managed Nuke updates before. With Nuke Indie, there is a 90-day time out on builds which means artists will have to move to a build that’s been released in the last 90 days.The way Nuke updates work is through a series of major version and maintenance releases. 

Our release cadence for maintenance releases is roughly six weeks per X.XvX release, meaning we’ll generally be releasing any Nuke 12.2 updates six weeks from the previous releases. We typically support at least two release lines at once, for example Nuke 12.1 and 12.2, so Nuke Indie users won’t be forced to move to a v1 of a new major version release.

Right now, Nuke Indie is only compatible with Nuke 12.2, so you will need to move to the latest Nuke 12.2 to keep using it. In the future, when we do our next Nuke major release, we’ll continue to support and do maintenance releases of Nuke 12.2 for some time—there will always be a safe upgrade option for artists, so you can continue working on projects with minimal disruption.


What are the key features new artists should be looking to learn? 

Chris: When you open Nuke Indie, you are first presented with the timeline of Nuke Studio, and while many users may have some understanding of Nuke, the Studio timeline does noticeably differ. 

Nuke Studio’s timeline offers artists a better and easier way to manage projects, so it’s important that when you’re first starting out in Nuke Indie that artists gain a basic understanding of the new layout. Learning about Nuke Studio’s timeline and how it connects into Nuke will be a massive help for artists.

You can find some great tutorials like Nuke Studio for Beginners and more, on our Learn site.

Intro to Nuke UI

Are there any extra tips for an artist coming from a layered-based application?

Christy: If you’ve only worked in a layered-based application like After Effects the biggest change is learning to work in a more procedural way and organising your thoughts into nodes. Working in Nuke is almost like building a recipe—you put all the ingredients together in order, stir, and season while having an overview of how all the elements come together to create the final dish. 

Chris: One of the strengths of Nuke is being able to see and control what is happening at a fine-grained level. One important area After Effects users may have not encountered before is premultiplication. There are great tutorials to help you get to grips with this—some in particular are Steve Wright’s and Joey Korenman’s tutorials on Premultiplication in Nuke which explain how it’s used for compositing in Nuke.

It’s important to learn how to take the basic building blocks and optimize them to you and your timeline. We know that the nodes can look a little bit terrifying at first, but don’t let that daunt you, once you’ve learnt the basics and premultiplication, this all becomes a lot easier. 


Where can I go for compositing tips and tricks or more advanced tutorials?

Christy: Our Foundry Learn site has a whole host of different Nuke tutorials varying in the difficulty levels. One noteworthy tutorial is Joe Raasch’s Tackling Common Compositing Tasks, which demonstrates how to problem solve shots of varying complexity in Nuke.

Once you’ve purchased Nuke Indie you’ll also get exclusive access to our Nuke Indie forums. These are just for Nuke Indie artists and can be used to ask any questions you have and interact with other like-minded users—it’s a great resource for artists to have the freedom to learn from each other. 

Alternatively, you can learn from the pros at FX PhD who also have a wide range of Nuke tutorials at your disposal.

Compositing Nuke UI

Is there anything else you think would be relevant for Nuke Indie prospects to know?

Christy: The reason to add Nuke Indie to your workflow is the same reason to use Nuke—it gives artists very fine grained control over what is happening to their pixels, so you can get high quality, pixel perfect results. Nuke allows you the freedom to bring all of your knowledge, expertise, and creativity to create your vision and your toolset, rather than working with tools that may be simply packaged but do not offer the same level of visibility or control. 

Chris: It empowers and challenges artists, giving them full control and freedom in how they want something to happen. This allows Nuke artists to get creative and excel with everything they create. 

Christy: We’re really excited to have Nuke in the hands of more artists and have already started to see some cool projects being created using Nuke Indie. We’re looking forward to what artists produce and see what the future holds for the Nuke Indie community. 


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