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Scripting for Compositor of the 21st Century

Nuke (by The Foundry) became one of the biggest flagships in compositing for animation and VFX. As the shot count per movie grows faster every year the demand for work output scales accordingly. The most grossing movie of all time Avengers: Endgame hits the significant number of 2496 VFX shots out of 2698 in total. That is over 92% of shots which were at least touched by an compositing artist and very likely done in Nuke. This not only means a static growth in complexity but also in pure size of output. At some point in the near future there are not enough artists in the world to counter the ever growing need of post production and compositing work.

What can we do to stay relevant and keep working?

Artist of the 21st century (coming soon) becoming more and more digitalis and dependent on their software to grow with the complexity and the daily requirements. While we use much more off-the-shelf products to feed our VFX and animation pipelines their count and additional plugins went up: Shotgun, ZBrush, Maya, Houdini, Arnold, Nuke, DaVinci and a variety of plugins just to provide the bare minimum for shot production. It is impossible for software developer to keep up with the different industries, tasks and needs for every company, project and workflow. But there is a golden treat at the horizon since everything is much more unified through standards it became also an opportunity. An opportunity for individual adjustments best done by scripting languages like Python.

The biggest advantage in learning scripting is to automatize simple processes. Creating template scenes and replacing specific nodes per shot is a no-brainer if your project has a repeatable structure. It also opens up time from the recurring aspects of the job to the more creative challenging avoiding you to spent less on fixing names, paths and copying nodes from one scene to another. Of course this is not just done by a snap of a finger (Avengers: Endgame reference ✔). It takes a little bit of time and investment especially in the beginning to lose the inner defenses against this technical skill (since we are all artists) and to built enough momentum to create something small but meaningful. Mostly it is about setting smaller milestones, having a clear vision of where this learning should go and being supported on your way that let you overcome and conquer this new skill.

Nuke & Python: Replace an old path part with a new one in all Read nodes.

To understand the small code snippet above and how you can change the directory of all the nodes in the scene to a new path with 8 lines just watch the two part video below. It shows you an introduction to the scripting basics in Nuke with TCL and Python, how to use node expressions, the script editor, and external python files - making you to a compositing artist of the 21st century.

- Alex

PS. For more Python for Nuke see here.


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