Written by Helmut Lottenburger
Post-Production Workflow Specialist
Can Smoke for Mac and Resolve work on the same workstation happily together? I believe they can!
Recently, I did some tests to see how far Smoke and Resolve can be combined on one system. The results are encouraging and worth sharing here.
Why combine SMAC and Resolve at all?
Resolve users may want to extend the capabilities of their current suite and move to a more versatile finishing application to cover editing and VFX. Smoke for Mac users on the other hand may want to have a wider range of tools when performing colour correction and find Resolve more versatile for this task.
Combining Smoke and Resolve can save you additional storage and a second workstation. Both applications can use the same data without the need to connect to a central storage. Merging Smoke and Resolve will allow you to take full advantage of a high-end suite without investing in extra gear.
My MacPro ready for expansion. Resolve hardware will be "outsourced".
So, where is the problem?
To make it short...
...Smoke uses AJA and Resolve Blackmagic Design I/O cards.
...Smoke has been designed for one graphics card, Resolve for multiple.
...Smoke requires different drivers and OS versions than Resolve.
Lastly, a MacPro has only four PCI slots to cover all hardware requirements, such as video I/O, GFX support and external storage!
Two GFX and two I/O cards in one system? I can see lots of potential issues running unqualified hardware as a production system.
DaVinci Resolve with Cubix expansion chassis.
I thought, the best way to avoid any "crossfire" between Resolve and Smoke is to "outsource" the GPU and Decklink card. The Cubix Expansion Chassis is small enough to fit under your desk but it is not whisper quiet. You will definitely hear the fans working which can be an annoying experience.
Switching to Resolve:
Simply turn the Cubix on and boot from a “Resolve friendly” partition.
Switching to Smoke for Mac:
Turn the Cubix off, physically disconnecting the “unqualified hardware”, and boot from your Smoke partition.
I tried to do extensive tests with the given time I had. This is the gear I used:
- JVC broadcast monitor
- AJA KiPro for record and playout, incl. deck control
- a SANman 8-bay system as a DAS
- Cubix Expansion unit
MacPro 2010 (Dual 6-core)
- 12 GB RAM
- AJA Kona 3G
- Blackmagic Design Decklink Extreme 3D (in Cubix)
- Connection card for SANman DAS
- 1x nVidia Quadro 4000
- 1x nVidia Quadro (GPU processing board in Cubix)
Smoke to Resolve: Bridging the gap
Many users may not be aware of this workflow, so I thought I mention it here.
There is a great way to move your entire Smoke timeline into Resolve within seconds, without rendering and without creating additional data!
Once you have finished the job in Smoke and have saved the (rendered) timeline, do not export it as you usually would. Instead select Publish.
Both Smoke for Mac and Resolve like DPX sequences.
Use Publish to speed your workflow up and work at highest quality.
This will map the DPX files in your Framestore to any folder on your DAS in a user friendly, continuous, sequence.
The beauty is that this process does not consume space and it does not just create “shortcuts” to the original files. It creates so called hard links.
See the Digistor Whitepaper for an in-depth explanation:
Smoke for Mac in established Post-Production environments.
From there, you simply boot into Resolve an have your finished timeline in the best possible quality. Bang!
After doing some testing, I come to the conclusion that Resolve and Smoke for Mac can be used in one system and consequently in one suite. I don’t see a reason why it would not work and suggest you get in touch with Digistor if you want to investigate this option further.