Ten NUKE features you need to know about

August 31, 2016

1: Smart Vector toolset (NUKEX, NUKE STUDIO)

It’s new in NUKE 10, and already this awesome feature has made it to the top of the list of the most useful features in the NUKE range. Smart Vector lets you generate high-quality motion vectors from tricky image sequences containing complex motion or subtle detail and use them to automatically push or warp paint or textures across a range of frames—perfect for clean-up, replacement and augmentation tasks that would previously have taken a lot of elbow grease!

2: Deep image compositing (NUKE, NUKEX, NUKE STUDIO)

Deep image compositing tools let you create and work with images that contain multiple opacity, color and camera-relative depth samples per pixel. This means you can render CG elements without needing predetermined holdout mattes, so there's no need to re-render everything when content changes—something Blur Studio greatly appreciated when working on the iconic title sequence for Deadpool. Deep image compositing can also be used to create volumetric effects and merge 3D images with minimal or no edge artifacts.

3: 3D Particle System (NUKEX, NUKE STUDIO)

NUKE’s 3D Particle System makes it quick and easy to emit, manipulate and create a range of advanced dynamic particle effects—such as dust, fire or rain—without the need to roundtrip with an external application such as Maya or Houdini. What’s more, with NUKE’s node-based approach, you can easily create particles based on channels from other images. As you can read on their website, Framestore demonstrated the system’s power for a scene in Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows, using it to create slow-motion water droplets.

4: ModelBuilder (NUKEX, NUKE STUDIO)

It might be surprising to learn that NUKE has a 3D modeling system built right in—extremely useful for set extensions, plate clean-up or as volumes to control particle emission. With ModelBuilder, you can create geometry from scratch, or using primitives as a starting point, and then modify it using tools like Carve, Bevel and Extrude to create the form you need. You can align your geometry to your footage, and snap it to other geometry or point clouds as you create it.

5. Stereo tools (NUKE, NUKEX, NUKE STUDIO)

Whether you’re converting Hollywood blockbusters or Renaissance masterpieces to 3D, NUKE’s stereo toolset has you covered. Whatever your preferred technique, from simple pixel displacement to complex 3D match-moved geometry, with a ‘displacement shader’ tool to help achieve higher quality stereoscopic conversion, NUKE has everything you need. And with anaglyph display as one of the options, you don’t even need a 3D monitor to preview your work in context.


Widely regarded as one of the best trackers in the business, NUKE’s 3D Camera Tracker is seamlessly integrated into the 2D/3D image processing environment. The tracker analyses a 2D image sequence and solves for the 3D camera, generating a point cloud as it does so; you can use this to align geometry within NUKE, or export it to a 3D application as reference. For tricky sequences, you can mask out foreground movement that may confuse the track, and manually select points to track to assist the automatic solve.


KRONOS is NUKE’s GPU-accelerated optical flow-based retimer. You can use it for retiming, speed-ramping, time-remapping and slow-motion effects, and to add realistic motion blur. It uses clever math to look at every pixel on each frame, tracking where it moves to on the next and generating motion vectors along the path. Using these vectors, KRONOS can generate an output image at any point in time throughout the sequence by interpolating along the direction of the motion, producing an extremely high-quality result, even for super slow-motion shots.

8. Depth Generator (NUKEX, NUKE STUDIO)

NUKE’s Depth Generator lets you create a depth pass from a camera-tracked image sequence; in a depth pass, each pixel’s value is determined by the distance of the object from the camera. You can use the generated depth pass anywhere within your node graph to moderate effects such as color correction or blurring; output it as a normal map and use to relight the scene; or even visualize the depth as a point cloud, which you could then use as reference for creating geometry.

9. Blink Script (NUKE, NUKEX, NUKE STUDIO)

The Blink Script node lets you write your own image processing operations inside NUKE—you can think of it as a much faster version of the expression node. Blink allows you to write code once and run it on any supported device. With Blink, your code can be run on the GPU to take advantage of its massively parallel processing capabilities, or turned into SIMD instruction (where possible) to accelerate your code on the CPU, or otherwise into standard C++. Kernels are generated and compiled on-the-fly, allowing you to switch between devices at will.

10. Match Grade (NUKEX, NUKE STUDIO)

Matching looks between clips shot under different conditions—or even emulating a look you like from another production entirely—can be challenging and time consuming. With NUKE’s Match Grade node, just a few simple clicks let you automatically analyze a reference frame, and then modify the color histogram of your image to match it. You can even use it to extract a LUT from a baked-in grade by comparing it with the ungraded frame, and then save the LUT to disk for use elsewhere in your pipeline.


Christy Anzelmo

Colorado native Christy puts her background in business and design to good use as commercial product manager for compositing and finishing products from The Foundry’s London office.

Share this story 

blog comments powered by Disqus