Three Nuke Tweaks To Improve Your Workflow | ActionVFX

Three Nuke Tweaks To Improve Your Workflow

Three Nuke Tweaks To Improve Your Workflow

Are you using these three Nuke tweaks to your advantage? Let us show you simple and effective ways to improve your node-based compositing.

The tools you use are one of the most important aspects of your work as a VFX artist. Though the artist behind them is the true determining factor, but final quality, speed, efficiency, and a low-frustration environment are very much dependent on how we set up the many programs and pieces of hardware required to nail a shot.

For The Foundry’s Nuke, the sky’s the limit with an extreme level of detail afforded to you. You can adjust and tweak every inch of the software perfectly to your liking. The only downside to this level of freedom is an overwhelming amount of choice and a bit of advanced tinkering required.
Source: The Foundry |
Start with these three tricks out-the-box to keep your compositing process smooth and creative.

1. Versioned Auto-saving

The first tweak comes to us from user Dave on the Foundry’s support forums and could potentially save you some massive headaches. One of the most important habits we have as artists is to save our work. Not just to one file and after big changes, but incrementally and overtime. 

With Nuke, a great tip is to use the version save feature built in. If you add ‘_V1’ to your script file name, you’ll then be able to ctrl+shift+S (on windows) to save a new file with _V2 appended. This of course leaves V1 intact and starts to build an insurance system for each version of your work, allowing you to easily go back when needed. Below is a great example of what it looks like.
An extra safety measure, as outlined in the forum post, is to have Nuke do this for you automatically with a bit of scripting. By default, Nuke stores one autosave file and keeps it up to date, but this script will give you the auto-saved equivalent of versioned saving. Save your work, save your time, and save some headaches!

2. Setting parameter defaults

There are hundreds and hundreds of parameters that we work with in Nuke every day. From transform fields to grain sliders, these parameters are the makeup of computation for the software. If you’re like me, you’ll find that a lot of the time you shift the same parameters to the same values like clockwork when throwing a new node into your script. 

Pay attention to this. The more you do it the more you’ll realize how much time and hassle you can save by diving deep into your node defaults. Two thought-starters that always come up for me are changing RotoPaint clone brush to default to “all frames” for its life and setting default project settings to 23.976fps. 

These can all be changed with some simple lines in your ‘init’ file inside your .nuke folder. See below for a quick reference on how you’d do this with the project settings and framerate: nuke.knobDefualt("Root.fps", "23.976").

3. Build your own Toolsets

In a similar mental exercise to the default parameters, consider how often we use similar nodes in similar structures for similar techniques. Surely you have a standard workflow you’re comfortable with for roto, keying, tracking, and all the fundamentals. One of the amazing powers of Nuke is how you can make it your own, and toolsets are the perfect example. 

You simply select a structure of nodes you want to save, click the toolsets icon on the toolbar, and ‘create’. Now you have your own custom ‘template’ of nodes.
This seems simple, but it can be a game-changer and a really great step in making Nuke feel like your home. It should have all the tools you need as you use them. The possibilities here are truly endless and at the very least can save you some time from digging through old scripts for node structures you want to reuse. 

An alternative is to save whole scripts with your node layouts on them and ready to go. This lets you drag and drop into your working script, essentially the same as importing a toolset.

One added benefit here is the ease of transferring and keeping these on you as well. .NK files are incredibly lightweight and easy to work with, you can take them on the go with a drive or simply throw your special recipes up to the cloud. 

Nuke has an incredible level of customization that everyone should take advantage of. Just as a carpenter may form a special bond with a hammer or tool over time you too can build out your tools exactly how you want them. This process is crucial as it puts the program “out of the way” and makes things work exactly how you prefer in your own unique process.

A great source for Nuke knowledge is Josh Parks, a Senior Compositing Artist at MPC. You can check out his website and articles talking about creating UI in Nuke, tech checking your compositing shot, among others!

He also has a great newsletter to sign up for.

What are some Nuke tweaks you’ve been rocking? Let us know in the comments below! Have some Nuke tips you'd like to share with our audience? Join thousands of other artists and filmmakers in the ActionVFX Facebook Group to meet and teach others your techniques!
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