Our Transition to Autodesk Smoke

Learning Autodesk Smoke 2015

I’m sure I’m not the only editor in the world to live in a fog of confusion during a transition to a new editing software, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling adrift. After 5 years of editing in Final Cut Pro 7, I was finally forced to make a change. Final Cut Pro 7 was constantly crashing while I was editing, to the point where I was having to restart the program at least 4 times an hour and you can imagine how time consuming that was. So, I decided to finally throw caution to the wind and give the widely-hated Final Cut X a try. I read all about their updates that maybe have made it bearable to use (yes I held out as long as I could). While I was trying to figure out how to get around in Final Cut X we ran across Autodesk Smoke 2015.

We did our due diligence and it seems that if we used Smoke, we could probably dump After Effects AND Motion and all of our other “side tools”. Smoke can do everything all inside the same program: YES, it’s THAT swanky. So, while I was in the middle of a love/hate relationship with the new Final Cut X, I decided to embark on a Smoke adventure. Surely if I was going to have to learn a new program, why not go ahead and learn the obviously awe-inspiring Smoke instead? I look back on that moment now and chuckle at my own ignorance.

At any rate, here I am a Smoke novice. I have edited two small projects in Smoke, stumbling around like a college student at the end of a all-night frat party. I’m going through the tutorials on the Smoke learning channel. I started with Lynda.com, which is always my “go-to” to learn anything new, but lo and behold Lynda only has Smoke 2013, a version behind mine. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but since Smoke is still the new kid on the block the next version has some serious changes which meant that a lot of Lynda’s information didn’t work for me, causing me some serious, hair-pulling distress, until I found the Smoke Learning Channel.

Their tutorials are great and you’ll even get a kick out of the instructor’s British accent as you go along. I seriously giggle out loud every time he says “transition” like “tran-SIZZ-ion” or Command ZED instead of Command Z. (Sometimes it doesn’t take much to entertain me.) Each tutorial is laid out in a great skill-building way. If you need some help, I would definitely say to start there. I’ve been compiling notes, especially key commands and as I get a little farther down the road, I’ll make a list and share them here.

I do know that I was obviously stark-raving-mad when I decided to edit a movie with Smoke. The learning curve is a bit steep, but it’s coming together. I’d love to hear feedback from anyone else using or thinking about using Autodesk Smoke. How are you liking it so far? What sort of tips and tricks or learning resources should we check out?

This was my first completed Autodesk Smoke project, with a little help from After Effects for the logo stinger!

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