The Fall of Combustion

I need to get something off my chest: I’ve always had a soft spot for Combustion, as if it’s the neglected step-child of the visual effects world. I guess it goes back to my days as a Smoke/Fire operator, but I’ve always preferred the design and interface to its contemporaries such as Shake and After Effects. So I was excited when Combustion 2008 was released at the end of 2007.

It’s been a few years since a major Combustion release (4.0), and I was worried the product line was starting to go stale, as it seemed that there were dozens of bugs and compatibility issues piled up. So I was really looking forward to the new version. I was relieved to discover two things: firstly, that there were lots of bug fixes announced in the latest version, and second, that another jewel in Autodesk’s high-end effects crown, the Colour Warper, was to be included.

However, when I started up the demo version, I couldn’t have been more disappointed. There was a new splash screen, a new licensing method, a shiny new Colour Warper operator in the Colour Correction category, and — actually, that’s about it. Combustion 2008 seemed exactly the same as its three-year-old predecessor (albeit with all the hot fixes and service packs installed). And it wasn’t fully compatible with Leopard upon its release.

I spoke to one of the product managers about it in January, who confirmed my suspicions: the major new things are the Colour Warper and roll-ups of bug fixes and hot fixes. Then there are the following UI improvements:

1.        Improvements to scene footage import (you can specify things like the imported frame-range, timing, and duration)
2.       Menus and windows can be expanded
3.       Operators can be dragged into viewports
4.       Synchronize playback of multiple viewports using shift+click
5.       Schematic enhancements inherited from the Toxik and Flame workflow

Combustion 2008 is approximately 850GBP (165GBP to upgrade from version 4.0). Toxik 2008 is 2,500GBP per license and all render nodes are free. A subscription to receive updates and new nodes is an extra 470GBP per year.


Although the Colour Warper is a notable addition to the suite, it doesn’t really seem to justify the upgrade fee. The Combustion development team, I’m told, is currently focusing on Leopard compatibility. So what’s going on here? Where is Combustion headed? Why do I get the feeling that this is the beginning of the end for this wonderful application?

Posted: March 6th, 2008
Categories: Tools
Tags: , ,
Add your comment

*/ ?>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *