Originally posted on 12 October 2021, at the start of the public beta, and updated on the final release.
Foundry has released Nuke 13.1, the next version of its node-based compositing software.
In all three editions of the software – Nuke, NukeX and Nuke Studio – the update improves the UX design of key toolsets, adds support for OpenColorIO 2, and extends Cyptomatte support and the Monitor Out system.
New features in NukeX and Nuke Studio include Unreal Reader, a new live link to Unreal Engine, plus the option to use third-party PyTorch models with the AIR machine learning toolset.
Nuke, NukeX and Nuke Studio 13.1: improvements to 3D user experience
When previewing Nuke 13.1 at its Foundry Live user event in September, Foundry described its main current development priorities as improving performance and scalability of the software.
One tangible result of that work is the revamped 3D user experience, including new designs for the viewport transform, scale and rotate gizmos to “[bring] them up to the standards of other applications”.
New functionality includes the option to switch between local, world and screen space, to transform objects on multiple axes simultaneously, and to move pivot points for geometry without moving the geometry itself.
The design of the new gizmos matches those in Katana, Foundry’s lighting and look dev software, and the default hotkeys for switching between transform modes match those for Katana and Maya.
Users can also switch to the standard Houdini or Blender key bindings.
Nuke, NukeX and Nuke Studio 13.1: Shake to disconnect
Other workflow improvements include the option to disconnect a node or chain of nodes from the Nuke node graph by ‘shaking’ them – literally jiggling them around on screen, as shown in the video above.
Sensitivity controls determine how vigorously you have to shake; or the feature can be turned off entirely.
Nuke, NukeX and Nuke Studio 13.1: Cryptomatte updates
The 13.1 update also extends the main features introduced in Nuke 13.0.
In the case of ID matte generation system Cryptomatte, that means a native version of Encryptomatte.
The new Encryptomatte node converts any alpha input into a Cryptomatte-selectable ID, making it possible to create custom Cryptomattes inside Nuke.
Wildcard syntax has also been extended, with users now able to use the minus symbol in expressions to exclude ID elements from selections.
Nuke, NukeX and Nuke Studio 13.1: updates to Monitor Out and the Hydra Viewer
The new Monitor Out system, used for viewing output on a second monitor, now displays annotations and the mouse cursor on monitor out devices and floating windows, facilitating shot review sessions.
In addition, the Hydra Viewer, the new higher-fidelity 3D viewport based on USD’s Hydra framework, now runs on macOS as well as Windows and Linux.
Nuke, NukeX and Nuke Studio 13.1: support for OpenColorIO 2
Other changes common to all three editions include support for OpenColorIO 2 (OCIO 2), the new version of the colour management standard, already rolled out in a number of other key VFX applications.
According to Foundry, the implementation should not conflict with older versions of OCIO on a user’s system; and the bundled config files for OCIO 1.1 have been retained for backwards-compatibility.
New functionality includes support for LUTs in .clf and .ctf format and native support for ACES, with Nuke 13.1 also introducing support for version 1.2 of the colour encoding system.
OCIO is now used for all Nuke displays, including on Monitor Out devices; and in Nuke Studio, all of the OCIO nodes are available as Soft Effects in the timeline.
Other pipeline changes include native support for the Blackmagic RAW format. You can find a full list of SDK updates and smaller features via the links at the foot of the story.
NukeX and Nuke Studio 13.1 only: UnrealReader provides a live link to UE4
The biggest new feature in the 13.1 releases is UnrealReader, a new NukeX node that creates a live link to Unreal Engine, making it possible to build composites from render passes generated in the game engine.
The system works over a TCP/IP connection, enabling users to pull in passes from other artists’ machines across a studio network, or via the internet, including machines running on different operating systems.
It’s only possible to import passes that Unreal Engine generates as standard – so it isn’t possible to use custom AOVs or deep data – but the implementation supports Cryptomatte.
It is also possible to render out the Unreal scene as a cube map for use in environment-based lighting.
Users can choose whether to link the cameras in the Nuke and Unreal scenes, or to non-destructively override the Unreal camera inside Nuke.
The initial implementation – still officially in beta – does not support Unreal Engine 5, curently available in early access. Foundry says that support will be added as UE5 “moves closer to release”.
NukeX and Nuke Studio 13.1 only: updates to machine learning
The 13.1 update also extends AIR, Nuke’s new machine learning framework, intended to enable users to train their own neural networks to automate repetive tasks like roto and marker removal.
It is also now possible to set up Nuke control knobs for AIR parameters.
Although the base edition of the software includes some machine learning features, the new functionality is only available in NukeX and Nuke Studio.
Nuke Studio 13.1 only: new Soft Effects
Nuke Studio users get five new Soft Effects, including a ModifyMetadata effect for adding metadata to a shot or sequence, or editing the existing metadata values.
In addition, the functionality of the existing ColorLookUp node has been made available as a Soft Effect, making it possible to apply LUTs or adjust colour curves from the timeline.
All Color Soft Effects also now have Unpremult and Mix control knobs for more precise control.
Other workflow improvements include a new selection tool for selecting only Soft Effects when working in the timeline, removing the risk of moving clips accidentally.
Nuke Studio 13.1 only: better cut-and-paste workflow
There have also been some major changes to copy/paste workflow, including the option to paste clips, sequences or bin structures between projects, making it quicker to create multiple versions of a project.
In addition, it is now possible to cut and paste between the timeline and the node graph, so nodes with equivalent Soft Effects can be pasted directly onto sequences in the timeline.
Artists can also now choose to overwrite the existing Soft Effects when copying and pasting effects between sequences, or to paste Soft Effects into a sequence sequentially.
Performance improvements include a “25-30% reduction” in the time taken to load projects in Nuke Studio’s .hrox format.
Pricing and system requirements
Nuke, NukeX and Nuke Studio 13.1 are available for Windows 10, CentOS 7.4-7.6 Linux, and macOS 10.15+.
Both node-locked and floating licences of Nuke cost $5,248. NukeX costs $9,768 and Nuke Studio costs $11,298. Rental pricing is also available.
Artists with revenue under $100,000/year can use Nuke Indie, which provides the same toolset as Nuke Studio, but which has a number of other restrictions. It’s rental-only, and is priced at $499/year.
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