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3D Modeling News from the Web

3D Modeling and 3D Design News from the good 'ol internet

Magic Nodes: node-based compositing in After Effects

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Hollywood Illusion – aka developer Alex Perea – has released Magic Nodes, a neat new After Effects extension that brings node-based workflows to Adobe’s layer-based compositing software.

Aimed particularly at compositing 3D renders into video, Magic Nodes lets artists build up a composite by wiring together nodes in a graph which the extension then translates into standard After Effects layers.

As well as providing the flexibility of native node-based compositing tools when it comes to modifying composites, the extension removes the need to create precomps, improving performance on complex shots.

Use both layer-based and node-based workflows within After Effects
Currently, compositors face a choice between applications like After Effects, in which composites are created by stacking layers on a timeline, like After Effects, and those in which they are created by wiring together nodes in a graph, like Foundry’s Nuke or Blackmagic Design’s Fusion.

While many artists find layer-based workflows more intuitive, node-based workflows make it easier to adjust shots in response to client feedback, and are usually held to be more powerful for complex shots.

Magic Nodes makes it possible to use both workflows within a single application, enabling artists to create composites by creating a node graph that is then translated into a standard After Effects layer stack.

Create nodes and have Magic Nodes generate corresponding After Effects layers automatically
Launching Magic Nodes opens a new interface panel to which nodes can be added: there are separate node types for importing media, generating solid coloured layers, merging existing nodes, and adding effects.

Adding a node automatically adds a corresponding layer to the Layers and Timeline panels.

Users build up a composite by wiring nodes together: merge nodes have separate inputs for the foreground, background and a track matte, plus a drop-down from which users can select blending modes.

The output of any node in the graph can be previewed in a new Viewer in parallel to the main Composition panel, with the Viewer updating in real time in response to changes made to the graph.

Avoids the need for precomps via a custom Calculations-style effect
Magic Nodes piggybacks on After Effects’ native toolset, so rather than adding new functionality to the software, it’s primarily a new, more flexible way to control the existing functionality.

However, one important benefit of the extension is that it removes the need to create precomps, reducing memory usage on complex composites – a feat achieved via a custom effect similar to After Effects’ native Calculations effect, but adapted to support 32-bits-per-channel footage.

As a result, according to the video embedded at the top of this story, rendering a project created using Magic Nodes on a machine without Magic Nodes installed requires a separate free After Effects plugin.

At the time of writing, we can’t find a download link for it, but we’ve contacted Hollywood Illusion for details and will update if we hear back.

Price and system requirements
Magic Nodes is compatible with After Effects 2017+ on Windows and macOS. A Basic perpetual licence costs $89; a Premium plan costs $149, and includes access to sample projects and one year’s maintenance.

Read more about Magic Nodes on Hollywood Illusion’s website

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