Even after years on Smoke, sometimes it still amazes me. When working in local broadcasting, we have a lot of monthly clients. Footage and elements will get reused from month to month and spot to spot. So I have a project, that contains libraries of video and graphics. Some of these graphics are elements I have made like full screen tags and animated backgrounds. Now I normally have 15 projects in flux at anyone time. So I never have a chance to archive everything off and reformat my framestore. Autodesk recommends that before any major software upgrade, that you archive and clean your framestore. Sound advice, but not very practical for me. So my current framestore was built with the 2009 version of Smoke. I am currently running 2012 Ext. 1 (SAP on the Smoke for Mac), so I have installed 8 major versions of software without cleaning my framestore. These ‘monthly’ project libraries and clips have been moved and copied from one version to the next, 8 times. Now, here is where the magic wonders me. I had to take some old full screen backgrounds and graphics that were built in Action in SD and make them 1080 HD. These clips had been made with History, so I placed the clip in a timeline, double clicked it, and it opened up in Action. A quick reformat in Setup to HD, and I was good to go. The background contained some 3D text and animations that all scaled to HD, and the other Photoshop elements in the setup were adjustable as well. Now, using History to adjust the setup of a clip and recall all of the clips that made that composite is not the overly exciting part. It’s that fact that the clip database management in Smoke, kept track of the Action setup, and the clips, after they had been moved from project to project, library to library, and version to version. So when my old effect that I made in 2009 in SD, came back in Action via History with all of the clips it made me stop and catch my digital breath.
All of this metadata is embedded in the result clip… all hidden in a little [H] icon.
What is History?
History is a feature in Smoke that keeps track of the operations that you perform on a clip, so that it can be recalled and revised later. It not only keeps track of the setups and keyframing, but also the clips used in making the final result.
When you look at the History View [CTL+F5] of a selected clip in the timeline, you will see every module and process that clip went through as well as any other clip that was involved in those processes.
You can click on any point in the process tree, and that module will be opened and the setup loaded. You can then make any modifications to that setup and when you exit, the remaining upstream process will reprocess with the new information. When all of the upstream processes are finished, you are returned back on to the timeline, and your new clip is in place in your edit. It’s very transparent and seamless.
Processing clips with History can use up more framestore since all sources and intermediate renders will be saved.
In Preferences, you can choose if your clips are saved with History automatically or on-demand. You can also choose if you want to save your intermediate renders, or have Smoke just remember the setup data and delete the material. Keep Sources can free up space on your framestore.
When you look at the History View and see the process tree, you have several options to interact with the setups.
- Double Clicking on a Module Node will send you to that Module and load the setup.
- Double clicking on a Source Clip will allow you to reload a new clip in the Process Tree. Great for reusing complex effects on new clips.
- CTL+Double Click on a Module will allow you to reload new sources for that module.
- SHIFT+Double Click on a Module will allow you to create a new clip with any setup changes and place that clip in the Source Are when complete instead of replacing it in the edit. – Great when you want to make a new version but keep the original in the edit.
- You can also Match out any clip to the desktop by selecting it and hitting MATCH or the Match hotkey.
If you are also working with Soft Effects, then take note, that you should try and perform all of your Soft Effects after you have performed any Module work. If you perform a soft TW on a clip and then take that clip into the Color Corrector, you can no longer edit the TW. So do all soft effects last if possible, or if you don’t care to edit them later. If you do get in to bind, you can always match out the clips that are grayed out and then access their History. Then do a History Source replace explained above. The Paint module and Stabilizer will also gray out any preceding effects.