Compositing with Blackmagic Fusion: Table of Contents and Glossary


  1. Getting Started
  2. The Basics
  3. The Interface and Tracking
  4. Rotoscoping and Keying
  5. Clean Plates
  6. Elements and Effects
  7. Expressions
  8. Macros
  9. Multipass CG Compositing
  10. The 3D Workspace
  11. Cameras, Lenses and Sensors
  12. Customization and Pipeline


  1. Anatomy of an Image
  2. Image Arithmetic
  3. Filtering
  4. Color Management


3D: 1) Referring to spaces or objects: Having width, height, and depth. Set up a 3D scene in Maya.
2) Referring to a kind of movie: A stereoscopic viewing medium that gives the illusion of images with depth. This book uses stereo to refer to these kinds of films in order to reduce confusion. Gravity was one of the only movies I thought was really worth seeing in 3D.

ACES: The Academy Color Encoding System, a proposed industry standard for color management.

Cineon: 1) Noun. A logarithmic color space used by film digitization scanners.
2) A file format with the extention .cin used for scanned digital film negatives

Clip: A specific, short piece of video or film. Sometimes a segment of a scene, sometimes only a single shot, but always contained in a single video file or image sequence.

Code Value: The numbers used to describe the luminance of a pixel. For instance, in an 8-bit integer system, a pixel might have a Red code value of 127, which translates to 50% of the available brightness values. Code value by itself is meaningless without knowing the transfer function used to convert it to luminance.

Color Management: The discipline, tools and techniques that ensure that color definitions and renditions remain the same through every step of the production process.

Color Space: A way of organizing and describing color. A color space is comprised of three things: Gamut, the range of colors the color space can describe; Transfer Function, the mathematical relationship between code values and luminance; and White Point, the coordinates in the chromaticity diagram that are considered to be white.

Comp: Short for Composite.

Composite: 1) Noun. An image made from more than one source. These sources can be multiple photographic elements or videos or synthetic imagery. My composite is too dark, but when I brighten it the grain looks really bad.
2) Noun. The working document that produces the composite image. In Fusion, the file has a .comp extension. You need to organize your comp better; I can’t tell which mask does what.
3) Verb. The act of creating a composite image. When will you be finished compositing that shot?

Compositor: 1) A skilled artist and technician who creates composite images. I am a digitial compositor for MuseVFX.
2) Software used to create a composite, such as Blackmagic Fusion. Sometimes it’s quicker to relight in the compositor than to send a shot back to 3D.

Composition: 1) Noun. A working document used to create a composite.
2) Noun. The artistic arrangement of forms within the frame of view.
3) Verb. The act of arranging forms within the frame of view.

Control Panel: The View containing the widgets used to modify a tool’s parameters. Also, Inspector.

Cut: 1) Verb. To set the in and out points of a clip.
2) Verb. To assemble a film or video project from individual clips. He’s been cutting his film for the last three weeks.
3) Verb. To insert a clip into a film or video project. Cut the latest version of that clip in, then we’ll review.
4) Noun. The current form of a film or video project. The editor has sent us a new cut, so we’ll need to verify our shot lengths again.
See also, Edit.

DPX: Digital Picture Exchange, a file format used to hold digital “film” negatives. Typically contains an image using a logarithmic color space, but the specific color space is not defined by the format.

Edit: 1) Verb. To assemble a film or video project from individual clips. We’re done with photography; time to edit!
2) Noun. A change to a project or clip. Did you make that edit I asked for?
3) Noun. The current form of a film or video project. Everybody come to the screening room; we’re going to watch the latest edit.

Editor: The artist responsible for assembling a film or video project.

Flow: The node graph where tools are displayed. Also, Flowgraph, Flow View, or Node Graph.

Final Cut: 1) The version of a film or video project that is considered finished. Not to be confused with Fine Cut.
2) A common editing software suite owned by Apple.

Fine Cut: A version of a film or video project that is close to finished but not yet approved. Timings are probably close to correct, and some visual effects and sound work may already be done.

Footage: Literally, the length of a segment of film. Colloquially, any piece of video or film of any length. The videographer is shooting some footage today.

Gamma: A non-linear function sometimes used to compress luminance values such that more room is available for the darkest parts of an image, where our eyes are most sensitive. Very few color spaces use a pure gamma transfer function, but the term is often used as shorthand.

Gamut: 1) The range of colors that a color space is capable of encoding.
2) The range of colors that a specific device is capable of displaying or recording.

Head Mounted Display: A display device that is worn on the user’s head. Typically a Virtual Reality visor.

HMD: See Head Mounted Display

Image Sequence: A series of numbered still images that create a video clip when viewed rapidly in sequence. Most visual effects software works most efficiently with image sequences rather than encoded video files. Render that Quicktime out to an image sequence to get better performance in Fusion.

Inspector: The View containing the widgets used to modify a tool’s parameters. Also, Control Panel.

Layer-based compositing: A compositing paradigm that uses image elements in a stack. Photoshop and After Effects are layer-based compositors. Layer-based systems sometimes use destructive techniques that are irreversible once the Undo buffer has been cleared.

Linear: A transfer function in which the relationship between code values and luminance is a straight line. That is, doubling the value of a pixel also doubles the amount of light that pixel emits. (Note, however, that your eyes are not linear, so doubling the luminance doesn’t necessarily make something “twice as bright.”)

Locked Cut: A version of a film or video project where the timings are approved and not subject to change. Many VFX vendors insist on a locked cut before they begin work in order to reduce costly change orders. Also, Picture Lock.

Luminance: A measure of the amount of light a pixel produces. With reference to a physical device, luminance is measured in nits or candela per square meter. Without reference to a device, luminance is abstract. Conventionally, a value of 1.0 in a floating-point representation is arbitrarily taken to be paper white.

Node: A self-contained tool that performs a specific, usually simple, task. Nodes are connected to one another on the Flow in order to collectively create more complex effects.

Node-based compositing: A compositing paradigm that uses discrete nodes to perform sequential operations on an image. Fusion and Nuke are node-based compositors. Compare to Layer-based compositing. Node-based compositing is, by its nature, non-destructive and preferred for professional visual effects production.

Picture Lock: The state of a film or video project in which no further changes to timing are expected. See also, Locked Cut.

Rough Cut: A preliminary version of a film or video project. Timing is subject to change, visual effects and sound are probably temporary.

Shot: Typically the smallest discrete element of a video or film project, from cut to cut. Most visual effects tasks are performed on a shot basis.

Time Ruler: The View containing playback controls, in/out points, and the playhead. Not to be confused with Time Lord.

Transfer Function: The mathematical relationship between the code values in an image and the luminance they represent. The most naïve version of a transfer function is the gamma, or power, curve, which uses a simple exponent to map numbers to luminance. Gamma is often used as an inaccurate shorthand for the transfer function.

Trim1) Verb. To set the in and out points of a piece of footage.
2) Noun. The in or out point of a piece of footage. Usually specified as “Trim In” or “Trim Out.” That clip has too many frames at the head. Trim in four frames so it lines up to the cut.

View: Generally, a panel in the User Interface. For instance, the Flow View or Keyframes View. Sometimes used synonymously with “Viewer.”

Viewer: A View that displays an image. Fusion has two main Viewers—Left and Right. If you have a second monitor, it can be addressed as a full screen third Viewer. Likewise, additional displays such as a Head Mounted Display (HMD) will each have their own associated Viewer, and the user can create additional Viewers, floating or embedded in existing UI panels.

Web admin for the Christian Gamers Guild and co-host of the Geek @ Arms podcast. Bryan primarily runs character-driven narrativist RPGs such as Primetime Adventures and Tales From the Loop.


    1. Not yet. I hope to have the ebook version (PDF and Kindle compatible) ready by the time Resolve 15 comes out of beta testing. The printed version will take a little while longer. Not sure how much longer; I’ve never published a book before.

    1. Still no. I’ve hit some logistical and legal snags that have been delaying me. Writing a book is apparently much easier than publishing it!

  1. Just letting you know, I would have immediately bought this book, were it for sale. But thanks for having it online in the meantime.

  2. Hey Bryan! Any chance section 12 (Customization and Pipeline) is available to read. It seems to be “unclick-able” on this page. Amazing work, thanks for all the help!

    1. Alas, it hasn’t yet been written! Or at least, what I’ve written hasn’t been collated and edited into a form that would be short enough for a single chapter.

    1. You can read what’s here whenever you like! I don’t currently have a publication schedule for the finished book because I’m waiting on Blackmagic to finish overhauling the user interface. I don’t see any profit in making a lot of screenshots when 80% of the icons are identical and therefore worthless. Once the UI is fixed, then I’ll start working on it again.

    1. I don’t feel confident enough about ACES to be able to answer many questions about it. Are you using the correct ODT? A simple test in Fusion Studio 16 using color bars shows the output happening like I’d expect. I have my bars -> ChangeDepth to float16 -> Gamut from Rec2020 to ACEScg -> Gamut from ACEScg to Rec709 (scene) -> ChangeDepth to int8 -> Saver. My resulting Targa has whites at 1.0 and looks mostly identical to the original test image. (Some ringing artifacts were exaggerated due to the test image having been sharpened before I got it.)

      I don’t have OCIO installed on my home workstation, so I used only native Fusion tools, which may not be a correct ACES workflow.

    1. None to speak of at the moment. I’m reasonably satisfied with the state of the new UI as of version 17, though, so I feel confident to start working again, once I can bang some time out in my schedule.

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