Do you want to download the trial of Smoke for Mac, or get the 36 month free educational version? You don’t have to have a full blown MacPro, with a Kona Card, and Nvidia Quadro or a Thunderbolt Storage device to learn Smoke. In fact, I am running Smoke for Mac on this low end MacbookPro.
Model Name: MacBook Pro
Model Identifier: MacBookPro8,2
Processor Name: Intel Core i7
Processor Speed: 2.2 GHz
Number of Processors: 1
Total Number of Cores: 4
Memory: 4 GB
Now you may have noticed the USB drive attached in the pic. This isn’t where my camera media files are stored. Although I could Gateway import media from a USB. In fact, I import 1080 P2 media all the time from USB. In this case, I am actually using this simple USB as my Media Framestore, where all of my Smoke processed media is stored. Yes, that USB is my framestore and I am able to play 1080 HD in realtime. What voodoo magic is this!?
First off, this configuration is acceptable to learn Smoke, and use a low-end spec’d system to evaluate the tools that Smoke offers without needing a full system with all the bells and whistles. I have configured the framestore to make realtime playback possible. Here’s how it works.
If you open up the Smoke Setup App in your Autodesk Folder in Applications,
you are able to add and configure your media storage device. Here is where you define the location where you Managed Media will reside. Managed Media for Smoke is any media that Smoke… well manages. This would be media that you import via the Gateway that is also done with a “Store Local Copy”, and is also all of the media that gets processed in Smoke via modules and Timeline Soft Effects.
Proxy Media is also Managed Media.
Non-Managed Media would be media that you are linking to via the Gateway, that you are pointing to, but access remains at its original folder location. This may be from a USB, Firewire, or Networked Folder.
Click over to the Media Storage Tab in the Smoke Setup, and you can add a Media Storage device. I created a folder on my USB drive and called it USBFS1.
This is the folder I pointed to in the config.
Smoke’s Media Storage creates media based on the bit depth of that media and the bit depth of your Project. You can import (Store Local) 8 bit media in to a 10 bit project and it will create 8 Bit frames on the framestore. 10 bit media will create 10 bit frames.
If you are running a ghetto setup… for educational purposes…. you can setup your Media Storage for 8 Bit, and set the created files to be .JPG.
At the far right, you can set the .JPG compression from 0-100. 100 is the best quality. 0 has the most compression, and is pretty useless. The default (default) is 50. So raising it to 100 actually produces the highest quality .JPG file. High-Quality JPG seems like an oxymoron to me.
This is what my final config looks like.
If you look at the “manual edit” function you will get the actual text file that defines how the framestore is configured.
You can only set 8 bit media up as .JPG. Once you work in 10 bit or higher, the default remain .DPX frames, which is the default frame format for Smoke.
But for testing, learning, and evaluating the software, 8 bit will get you going. And if you are working with DSLR video or P2 DVCPROHD, 8 bit will be fine.
What kinds of speed can you get from this down and dirty config? Here’s how it breaks down for me. (see pic) At the default 8 bit DPX frames I get 5 fps of video playback on the USB. This is less than useless. 31 MBps is a far cry from the 200MBps needed to playback 1080 HD playback. But with .JPG frames, I am rocking 121fps and 722MBps. Woot!. And again, I am surprised at how good the .JPG looks.
Let me restate, that this is really only designed to let you explore Smoke on a setup that is less than desired. Obviously, having a fast RAID or Thunderbolt Storage device is the way to really use Smoke in production. I thought that this blog post might help anyone who has a MacbookPro and wanted to see what Smoke was about.
One other thing to this 8 bit ghetto config’d framestore might be good for is working in proxy mode in your project. If you are working with 10 bit media, in a 10 bit project, you can setup your proxy generation to be 8bit.
With this setup, you can view your 8 bit JPG frames, and get realtime playback on a USB drive, and the 10 bit media will be DPX frames. Viewing your timeline as proxies, will allow you to edit and work remotely, with just a USB drive. And your full res media will still be high quality DPX frames. Cool right?