On a Man of Valour

This weekend, my brother was wed. As is always the case with weddings, it was a stressful time, and not everything went as planned. I won’t get into the specifics, but there were some disappointments and hard feelings. Among many families, there would been outright strife. I am prouder than I can say that such was not the case in mine. Anger, misunderstandings, and even an inability to reach consensus on essential (and I use that word in its full meaning) ideals, shall not break my family. Thank you, my loves, for your kindness to one another, even when you cannot see eye-to-eye.

But now I want to talk about Timothy. Although he’s my brother, I am sad to admit we do not know one another well. I was 18 years old and nearly ready to spread my own wings when he was born. It was long and long before we began to build a relationship upon common interests. Even now we have limited contact with one another and so haven’t been able to form the kind of bond I share with our sister. Nevertheless, I do know some things about him, and I think perhaps they’re the most important things.

Like me, Tim enjoys heroic fiction—science fiction, fantasy, roleplaying games, and comic books figure large in both of our lives. There are some who look down on such things as childish or escapist. Many others regard them as mere entertainment. It is rare to find someone who internalizes the lessons they teach and transform them into guiding principles. My brother is one such. It is true that he is sometimes foolish and very often silly. I imagine it is easy for some to dismiss him or think poorly of him, but anyone who looks a little deeper will, I think, discover something astonishing: He really believes in kindness and in compassion. That these things are of value for their own sake, and not just for what they bring us.

Certainly, many of us think that it’s better to be kind. Some even manage to appear to be kind, as long as we’re not inconvenienced. For most of us, though, it’s a superficial feature of a public persona. For Timothy, though, a regard for others is a core element of his psyche. That the strong should stand up for the weak isn’t mere philosophy, but a principle he will act upon, even to the breaking of his own body. I cannot think of another person that I would describe as valorous. But I cannot hesitate to apply the word to Tim.

I know that both of my siblings look up to me. I do my best to at least appear worthy of their regard, although I know that the reality fails to measure up to what they believe about me. But this is the truth: Danica and Tim, you’re both heroes in my eyes. I admire you more than I can say.

Annic Nova, a Traveller deckplan

It’s been a while since I dropped any gaming-related content here. Anyone who’s familiar with Classic Traveller may remember the Annic Nova, a very early scenario involving a strange derelict spaceship. While it’s still possible to find the adventure in pdf format, the scan is atrocious. I’ve redrawn the deckplan as best I can in the minimalist Traveller style. And because I’m a crazy person, I did it in Fusion.

The key is available in the module, available from Drive Thru RPG (only $4), and it’s still reasonably legible. I believe sharing the deckplan alone falls inside FFE’s Fair Use Policy.

This map is Copyright © 1977 – 2022, Far Future Enterprises All Rights Reserved. Licensed for  individual use.

click for full resolution

Karma, Cryptomatte and Fusion

If all you need to know is how to render Cryptomatte from Houdini’s Karma renderer so that it can be used in Fusion, here’s the secret sauce:

In your USD Render ROP, add the flag --exrmode 0 to the end of the husk Render Command. In 19.5 and later, there’s a checkbox for Enable Legacy EXR Mode that adds the flag for you, but in earlier versions you have to put it there yourself.

Add the flag --exrmode 0 to the end of the husk command in the USD Render ROP's Render Command

If you’re using the Karma HDA, you’ll need to unlock it and dive inside to find the ROP. Right-click the Karma node and choose Allow Editing of Contents. Then double-click to dive in. The Render Command in this version is long and complex, but you can still just add the flag to the end of it:

After diving inside the Karma HDA, add the flag --exrmode 0 to the end of the husk command in the rop_usdrender's Render Command

Continue reading →

New Job with SideFX Software!


I’ve announced this in several places, but it occurs to me that I never updated the occasional reader of my blog. I’m now a Houdini Technical Consultant, working directly for SideFX. In a nutshell, I’ll be doing for Houdini the same thing I have been doing for Fusion, except I’ll be paid for it. I’ll therefore probably have a lot less to say about Fusion and production in general and a bit more to say about Houdini.

On the other hand, most of my teaching opportunities are going to be directly through SideFX, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be keeping up with it here. If I do anything cool on my own time, it’ll definitely show up here.

I do have a few bits and bobs left over from working in Fusion, and hopefully I’ll be able to find the time in the coming weeks to organize it, finish up some projects that I’d been procrastinating, and put it all into Reactor. I’m afraid the book is probably dead in the water at this point. Sorry. I’ll leave the draft up here.

Blackmagic Fusion’s Merge and Booleans Mathematics

This is an unfinished draft of one of the appendices to the unfinished draft of the book. I don’t remember how far I got, but I believe everything currently stated in here is at least true, if perhaps not complete.

Now children, when a Foreground and a Background love each other very much, the Foreground inverts its Alpha channel and multiplies it by the Background. Then they add their color channels together and a new composite image is born.

You can take your compositing skills up a notch with a thorough understanding of the math behind Fusion’s Merge and Channel Booleans tools. This article explains the various Operations available in the Channel Booleans node and the Apply Modes available in the Merge.

Continue reading →

New Reels for 2020

bryan-ray_compositing-reel_2020_v02 from Bryan Ray on Vimeo.

This Compositing and Lighting reel shows work from Legion, From Dusk Till Dawn, Charmed, Teen Wolf and Dog With a Blog. All clips are courtesy of Muse VFX and property of the respective productions.

The work was largely completed with Fusion, 3DS Max, Redshift, PFTrack and Houdini. There’s a little V-Ray in there, too.

The Music is “Tension 2” from Audio by The Blue Man Group.

Tapered Bezier curve for Fusion

I want a better Lightning tool for Fusion. The existing one, a fuse that was available in VFXPedia prior to the Blackmagic takeover, was never really good enough for production. As a result, any time I’ve wanted electricity effects, I’ve fallen back on After Effects. I’ve had some ideas about how to improve the Lightning Fuse, but when it came time to actually open it up and make some changes, I ran into two problems: Fusion can’t draw a tapered spline, and the BezierTo() method for the Fuse drawing API is broken. Solving one of those problems offered me the opportunity to solve both at once, so that’s what I did.

In this developer’s diary, I’ll walk through the creation of a tapered Bezier curve Fuse. All of my testing was done in Fusion 9. I have no reason to expect that the fuse won’t work in v16 or Resolve, but I haven’t tried it yet. I hope that I’ll be able to extend what I’ve done here into that Lightning Fuse, but that’s a few steps down the road. I’ll be certain to document it when I get there.Continue reading →

Fusion start-up troubleshooting

Let me lead by saying that I have no intention of being Fusion tech support. The information in this post is the only help I will offer, so don’t send me emails asking how to get Fusion running. I will steadfastly ignore them (so don’t take it personally when I don’t reply; it’s just a policy I’m using to maintain my sanity). I am interested in new solutions, though, so if you manage to overcome a start-up or crash problem that isn’t detailed here, do let me know your solution so I can disseminate it. Or better yet, post it at both the official forum and We Suck Less. You probably already know that I frequent both of those sites, so I’m almost guaranteed to see it.

Continue reading →

Toolbox UI Script for Fusion


Management of custom tools and scripts in Fusion can begin to become difficult as the number of assets increases. Not only does finding the specific script you need to run get harder when you have to sort through dozens of others, but discoverability becomes a problem. To counteract these issues, I built this Toolbox script to give easy access to the most useful of our assets. For TDs interested in the nuts-and-bolts, there is a detailed description of the code down below with the original version of this article. To be clear, this script doesn’t actually do anything on its own. It only provides an interface for easy access to whatever you decide to add to it.

To install the Toolbox, download this file: MuseToolBox.zip

Unzip it into your Fusion Scripts folder. It should place the file MuseToolBox.lua in the Comp subfolder, and three files in a new folder named Support: Cog.png, MuseToolBox_configurator.lua, and Toolbox_buttons.cfg

Run the script from the Script menu in Fusion.

Continue reading →

Kill the Happyforms Ad in your WordPress Editor

I don’t know if any of my small number of readers runs their own WordPress site, but I ran into an annoyance today related to the theme on one of my mine. When I entered the Editor page, an ad for something called “Happyforms” had been placed in the layout. Screen space is precious, and I sure as heck didn’t want to give any up to an ad, so I immediately looked for a way to squash it.

Continue reading →