Blackmagic Design had so much going on at NAB that it was easy to overlook the fairly major overhaul it’s made to its standalone VFX product, Fusion Studio.
To be honest, even though there is a lot of new stuff in Fusion 16 Studio, a lot of it is also going to be rather familiar; at least to Resolve users. Essentially what Fusion 16 does is bundle up all the improvements made to the version of Fusion that resides within Resolve and brings them to the standalone version for the first time (hence why Fusion has jumped from v9 to v16, to bring it into alignment with the marquee product).
The differences between the two versions tend to be the subject of fevered discussion on reddit boards and elsewhere, especially given the price disparity between Resolve (free) and Fusion Studio ($299). Blackmagic has produced a handy comparison chart which you can see here though. Essentially the two are quite impressively similar, but $299 gets you a lot of the pro functionality — Primatte 5 keyer, network rendering, and VFX editing functions — required for at-scale VFX work.
So, the standalone version now features an updated user interface, along with what Blackmagic says is dramatically faster performance. Certainly, Blackmagic has confirmed that all 3D operations are GPU accelerated, while there are ‘dozens’ of other GPU accelerated tools such as time effects, dissolves, stereo 3D tools, vector motion blur, corner positioning, color tools and more.
B-spline and bitmap mask operations have also been overhauled, along with the planar and camera trackers. And improved memory management makes large comps with high tool counts more reliable, making Fusion 16 faster and more stable.
But perhaps the best news for VFX houses invested in Fusion as a standalone product is that it’s not going anywhere. When a standalone new version didn’t appear last year following 2017’s v9 release, there were fears that Blackmagic was killing it off in favour of the Resolve version — which is good as far as it goes, but not considered a serious tool by VFX houses. According to the company the two now share a video base and in future, when a new build of DaVinci Resolve Studio is released, there will be an update to Fusion Studio as well.
Fusion 16 Studio public beta is available now for download from the BMD website.