Investigating Fusion Connect With Avid Media Composer – How Well Does It Work?

March 8, 2022

Welcome Arthur Ditner as a new Mixing Light Contributor! Learn about Fusion Connect with Avid Media Composer - its strengths and limitations.


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Team Mixing Light Note: We are pleased to welcome Arthur Ditner to our roster of Contributors, here on MixingLight.com. Please join us in welcoming him to Mixing Light, in the Comments below! You can find out more about Arthur on his Mixing Light Author page (a full listing of our Contributors can also be found on our About Us page).


Leveraging the power of Blackmagic’s Fusion compositor within Avid Media Composer

Fusion Connect integrates Blackmagic Design’s node-based compositor Fusion Studio as an AVX plug-in for Avid Media Composer. Functionality is very similar to Baselight Editions for Media Composer, an entire instance of the software runs alongside Media Composer as a layered effect. This opens up Media Composer considerably in terms of potential workflows.

What is most interesting is that: Fusion is Fusion, regardless of the platform. That means most elements in a composite can freely move between Media Composer Fusion Connect, Fusion Studio, and DaVinci Resolve. For those of you that collaborate between Media Composer for offline editorial, and DaVinci Resolve for final color correction and online editorial, Fusion Connect is worth investigating.

Software Requirements

The Fusion Connect installer can be found on the Blackmagic Support page. Scroll down the ‘Latest Downloads’ column to find “Fusion Connect” (at the time of publication, the search functionality on that page doesn’t seem to work for Fusion Connect). A new version of Fusion Connect gets released with every major release of Fusion Studio. Currently version 17 is the most recent (released in February 2021), and you can roll back all the way to Fusion 8.1 if you are still using a previous Fusion release as your daily workhorse. Media Composer users will need to be on version 8 or newer to use Fusion Connect.

Licensing

You need a Fusion Studio license to run Fusion Connect. There is no additional charge to access the plug-in. As of version 17, all DaVinci Resolve Studio licenses get this with either a hardware dongle or software license registration. At this time of writing licenses of Fusion Studio and Resolve Studio are cross-compatible. 

Blackmagic's Rohit Gupta confirms that Resolve 17 Studio licenses also enable Fusion Studio 17.
Blackmagic lead software developer Rohit Gupta confirms in a forum posting that DaVinci Resolve Studio 17 licenses also enable Fusion Studio 17 licenses.

Getting Started

When starting a project, immediately check the timeline playback settings and ensure you are running at least Full Quality 10-bit. The creation of Fusion media is dependent on the output of Media Composer’s record monitor. So, if draft quality is selected, you’ll end up with half-resolution elements.

Media Composer's timeline playback settings
Fusion Connect comps are rendered at the resolution of Media Composer’s timeline playback settings!

Getting started with Fusion Connect

Starting a new Fusion composition is a drag and drop affair. Once installed, a Blackmagic Design category will be found in the effects palette, and the Fusion Connect AVX gets dragged as a layer effect. Either mark the duration for the desired composition or add edits to an empty track in the timeline to contain the Filler block.

In my first sample composition, I have a train on video 1 and will drag Fusion Connect to video 2 to paint out the side advertisement.

A Fusion Connect AVX layer effect is added to a timeline.
Fusion Connect is implemented as an AVX layer effect.

The plug-in settings can be found inside the Effect Editor panel. Fusion Connect generates image sequences for each asset leaving Media Composer, and that system requires its own management.

The Fusion Connect effect editor.
The Fusion Connect effect editor.

Thankfully there are some handy macros included that keep things somewhat organized for you. You’ll want to change the default folder path though to keep things organized. From here, plates will be rendered in a directory tree that goes by:

  • Project name
  • Clip name

Pay close attention if you are working with multiple video clips with the exact same filename that there is no double-up with the default macro, however.

Note that the asset management exists entirely outside of the Avid MediaFiles/MXF/ folder that traditionally lives at the root of any media volume, as well as the Source Browser linked assets. Fusion Connect-generated assets uses a separate file management system.

Putting Fusion Connect to the test: Tracking an object

I’m going to use Fusion’s excellent planar tracker to track the billboard on the side of the streetcar train and create a Planar Transform node into a masked background node to cover this up quickly.

  • Click Export Clips to make plates for the scene
  • Choose Edit Effect to launch Fusion Studio

Fusion Studio will load and have two nodes in a default composition. One is input (from Media Composer) and the other is output (going back to Media Composer). It feels quite like the Fusion page in Resolve!

The Planar Tracker interface in Fusion Connect will look familiar to DaVinci Resolve users.
The Planar Tracker interface in Fusion Connect will look familiar to DaVinci Resolve users.

The planar tracker node worked beautifully on this shot, a perfect track on the first try! To clean up the patchwork on the side of the streetcar, I added a background node and promoted the generator to a 4 color gradient. I sampled nearby hues of paint from the train and the result looks like this is just an empty panel on the side of the bus.

After tracking, masking, and filling the advertisement, this is the final result.
After tracking, masking, and filling the advertisement, this is the final result.

To send back to Media Composer, click the Render button in the Fusion toolbar. There are no settings to change as the folder tree is determined by the folder tree set at the launch of the composition. Published renders can be found alongside the plates.

Final results in Media Composer interface.
Final results in Media Composer interface.

Results back in Media Composer. I think this works very well! If you are familiar with the planar tracker in Fusion, I could see it a preferrable choice to building out the same type of effect inside of Media Composer with the native point-tracker.

NOTE: For some reason frame 01 was blank the first time I ran the output. I pressed the Render button a second time inside Fusion Connect and that fixed the issue.

Putting Fusion Connect to the test: Effects and Color

Another application that makes Fusion Connect useful for Media Composer is the ability to use Fusion’s built-in toolkit. While Fusion Studio isn’t really a plug-ins effects package per se, there are a lot of simple effects that can be accomplished quickly.

Using this clip from Mother Died, the glow tool adds a nice soft effect on the highlights of the frame. Masking the glow with the ellipse node was a snap. Personally, I find this faster and more intuitive than using a layer-based editor to composite. Since Fusion is running outside of Media Composer – any OFX plug-in that is compatible with Fusion is now available for Media Composer workflows.

Adding and masking a glow inside Fusion Connect. Notice the node-based interface that is now available to Media Composer users.
Adding and masking a glow inside Fusion Connect. Notice the node-based interface that is now available to Media Composer users.

And this clip from In the Shadow of Giants, it is far easier to draw a simple vignette using Fusion than to use the color corrector found within Media Composer. The scopes are nice too! From a workflow perspective, it would be a lot of work to send plates to Fusion for every shot from Media Composer, but it is worth considering for ease of use with secondary color correction—especially if you don’t have a Symphony license. The feel of Fusion and navigation in the viewer is smooth for drawing intricate masks.

Drawing intricate masks plus the power of node-based compositing is a powerful addition to Media Composer.
Drawing intricate masks plus the power of node-based compositing is a powerful addition to Media Composer.

Sending from DaVinci Resolve to Media Composer

Remember when I said Fusion was Fusion? It is also possible to move Fusion Text+ titles from inside Resolve and out to Media Composer. Inside DaVinci Resolve I’ve used the Text+ preset “Clean and Simple”:

A title within DaVinci Resolve
A title within DaVinci Resolve

After the title is created, open it in the Fusion page:

  • Select the Macro
  • Copy to the clipboard by selecting: menubar > edit > copy.
The same Fusion title inside Resolve's Fusion page.
The same Fusion title inside Resolve’s Fusion page.

To move this animated title into Avid:

  • Create a Fusion Connect composition inside Media Composer
  • Paste directly out of the menubar and the macro moves along! 
The Fusion title generated in Resolve is copied and pasted into Media Composer
The Fusion title generated in Resolve is copied and pasted into Media Composer

Fusion Macro tip

One last little trick I learned while modifying DaVinci Resolve Text+ presets. The presets are saved as macros, which are a group of nodes placed together in a single container. It is possible to convert macros into groups to regain access to the nodes in the composition.

Enter the Fusion page and select the Macro. Copy to the clipboard by selecting menubar > edit > copy.

Paste the clipboard into any text editor and use the replace command to substitute “Macro” with “Group”.

Use a Find & Replace command in a text editor to gain access to 'nested' nodes when migrating from Fusion to Avid Media Composer.
Use a Find & Replace command in a text editor to gain access to ‘nested’ nodes when migrating from Fusion to Avid Media Composer.

Use a Find & Replace command in a text editor to gain access to ‘nested’ nodes when migrating from Fusion to Avid Media Composer.

Now, to finish off this process, select all the text in the text editor and again, menubar > edit > copy.

Paste into either Fusion Connect or DaVinci Resolve’s Fusion page to see the node composition and further refine the motion graphics template. I often use this technique to add additional modifiers to a Text+ node, such as drop shadow.

The group nodes are now ‘un-nested’ and available for custom modifications.

Closing thoughts

The main drawback to working with motion graphics inside Media Composer using Fusion Connect is the rendered plates workflow. Media Composer has a sordid history when it comes to text tools and many are searching for more accessible alternatives, but Fusion may not be it. Since a rendered container is needed to open a Fusion composition, every time you trim an edit a new plate needs to be sent to Fusion and then rendered back for Avid.

I also haven’t found any way to send transparency information outside of Fusion back to Media Composer, to solve this problem.

When rendering a transparent object out of Fusion the transparency communicates as a black object. If you arrived at locked picture it would be worth considering working with titles this way, but not in an offline editorial workflow where the title animation needs to be handled separately from the image it’s composited above.

Fusion Connect on the left with a transparent background, Media Composer fills the transparency with black.

Fusion Connect on the left with a transparent background. On the right, Media Composer fills the transparency with black covering over the background image.

Fusion Connect is an interesting workflow available to users of Media Composer. For many tasks, using Fusion is preferable to using Media Composer. Admittedly, this workflow is not terribly quicker than simply rendering a plate from Avid, opening the results in a Fusion Studio composition (or any other software package), rendering, and then importing back into Avid.

But with some creative implementation, and an understanding of its limitation, Fusion Connect can be a valuable tool in many circumstances for Media Composer artists.

–  Arthur


 

Comments

Homepage Forums Investigating Fusion Connect With Avid Media Composer – How Well Does It Work?

Viewing 5 reply threads

    • marc f
      Guest

      Nice review. I cant believe this hasn’t been talked about more..I’ve been using Resolve Connect since it’s BEta when it was still Eyeon. its an awesome thing for editors/vfx/colorists like myself who don’t stop at the borders of one job.
      I know you wrote of the drawback being Alpha channel issues, but thats more on Avid, as Avid has never understood Alphas.
      Instead, things like Greenscreens, Mic removal, paint fixes, etc…are done way better with this workflow.
      Great stuff.


    • Jess B
      Guest

      All went well after “export clips”until the “click to launch Fusion Studio” command, then nothing happens. Any clues to what’s wrong? Media Composer is in 10-bit output and the paths are correct. Baffled.


    • Jess B
      Guest

      Fixed. Uninstalled & reinstalled FS 17.4.5 and that fixed it. Thx!


    • Jess B
      Guest

      I’d like to use Fusion Connect in Avid using HD dailies exported from Resolve. But when I export the AAF back to Resolve and relink to the original camera files. the Fusion Connect nodes don’t seem to travel over. I was hoping they would so I could do finer manipulations with full-res and HDR media in the online. Anything I’m missing or does Studio Connect simply not translate via AAF? I’m going to guess it won’t work automatically since I’m getting “Effect type ‘Fusion Connect 16bit’ is not supported in this release. Plain clips will be imported” instead. My workaround – which does seem to work – has been to open both Fusion Studio AND Resolve in Fusion mode then copy & paste nodes from Fusion Studio Comps to Fusion inside Resolve… one to the other. What a pain! Can you think of any better way save having Blackmagic support Fusion Connect inside Resolve / Fusion?


    • Arthur Ditner
      Guest

      Hello!,
      Yes, copy/paste nodes I am afraid. Fusion Connect is not AAF friendly. I think the original intent for this plug-in was to use Avid as a finishing tool more so than an Offline tool.

      While a pain, it’s more straightforward than recreating effects from Offline in Online from scratch.

      Alternatively, inside Resolve you can opt for File > Import > Fusion Composition. Since Fusion Connect project files are just Fusion comps this method works. You may need to adjust keyframes in the keyframes panel since Resolve features handles support, where as Media Composer sends only the in/out range to Fusion. This can affect global timing.


    • Arthur Ditner
      Guest

      nice!,
      I had a few moments where uninstalling was necessary. I did manage to get Fusion Connect working with the old free version of Fusion 9, but writing all the limitations of the outdated free version was sounding too convoluted so I cut it out.

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