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How Do I Choose the Best Compositing Software?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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To choose the best compositing software, you should consider what type of compositing you need to do and how much you want to spend. If you are looking to composite two-dimensional (2D) images together, then a photo editing program would probably work well for you, though you might consider an illustration program as well. On the other hand, if you want to composite video together, especially if you are interested in using three-dimensional (3D) works, then you might consider a 3D compositor or a video editing program. You should also consider how often you are going to be using this program, as some compositing software can be quite expensive.

Compositing software typically refers to programs that assemble different types of media, usually visual media, together into a final product. If you are looking for a program for compositing still images, then you should typically consider a 2D compositor for editing photographs or creating illustrations. These programs often have different tools and can create images as either vector or raster images. You should consider what type of images you want to work with so you can choose the best compositing software for your needs.

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If you are interested in compositing video or more complicated images and works, including graphics you create in a 3D imaging program, than you should consider more elaborate compositing software. These programs are usually 3D compositors that can assemble layers in more elaborate ways and allow you to better control the compositions of video and other moving images. You might also consider a video editing program to accompany your compositing software to more easily edit and change video clips before or after compositing. This all depends on your individual needs, however, and you should consider the investment necessary for owning or licensing such programs.

Many of these compositing software programs can be quite expensive, so you should think about how often you are likely to use them before choosing a program. If you are going to use compositing software on a nearly daily basis for professional work, then you should look for a program that is powerful enough for your needs and consider the cost to be part of your work expenses. On the other hand, if you only want a program for amateur or occasional use, then you might consider software that is less expensive. There are some fairly powerful, inexpensive or even freeware programs available for compositing, though you should ensure any such program includes the functions you require.

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MrMoody
Post 4

@hamje32 - Yeah, those are industrial applications. There are compositing software tools that can only be used in industry or some specialized setting, but won’t be available to the mass market.

One example is facial compositing software. This is where the police can draw the faces of suspects, recreating the faces to an almost exact match based on user testimony and other witness reports.

It’s amazing the degree of precision in these compositing applications; the suspect's images are very close to what they look like in real life. I guess that they have a bunch of stock images for the face, like noses and mouths and stuff to make it easier to get a close match.

I don’t imagine that the average user would want an application like that, except for some fun I suppose.

hamje32
Post 3

@Mammmood - What I want is the kind of visual effects software that they use in Hollywood, like the studios such as Industrial Light and Magic.

Those are the big boys of visual effects. One of their software packages allows you to do motion tracking.

This is where they hook up the actors with wires and the actors move around; as they do, they wind up animating these CGI characters. It results in animation that is very fluid, almost lifelike, and I think it’s a lot faster than trying to animate the old fashioned way, using key frames.

I don’t think that there is anything comparable to that for the mass market but I sure would love to play with something like that. I think the kids and I could have a lot of fun with it.

Mammmood
Post 2

@miriam98 - I’ve found a few free compositing software applications on the Internet. Some of them boast features that are comparable to the big software packages that the professional graphic artists use.

One of the cool features that I like is chroma keying. You see those effects in science fiction movies a lot.

Chroma keying is where the background is a green or blue color, and actors act against that backdrop. It is then composited out in software and replaced with another background, like space or something like that.

The pros use green screen, as it’s called, to great effect. Sometimes with the free software you see fringes around the edges of the actors. It definitely looks like it’s pasted on. But hey, it’s free, and it sure is a lot of fun.

miriam98
Post 1

Years ago I bought Adobe After Effects, a very powerful video editing compositing software program.

You see it used in a lot of professional video and animation applications. I have to admit the software is indeed powerful. It uses a series of timelines that allow you to place clips on the stage, and you can add multiple videos.

The range of animations is quite extensive. You can create explosions, particle matter and light rays for example.

The only problem with After Effects is that it has a very steep learning curve. I finally quit after awhile because it was a bit of overkill for my needs.

I wasn’t a graphics designer; I just wanted to do some cool animations for my videos. I didn’t need to make a beer commercial or anything like that.

Finally I settled on the basic compositing features of my video editing programs. It’s nothing fancy but it does let you composite images together and animate them in different ways.

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