Visual effects artists work in frames sequences. That’s what we expect to get from the client, and it’s what we give back to them. EXRs, DPXs, PNGs, TIFs, even TGAs and JPGs. Compressed movies are for reviewing, but our main means of delivery on feature films are frame sequences. Independent projects can have a variety of different formats for delivery, but even then, it’s recommended that you work from frame sequences and just create the delivery movie from the final frame sequence at the end.
In case you don’t know what frame sequences are, it means that every frame of a visual effects shot (or a video clip) is saved into a folder as an individual image file. The folder contains all the frames that make up the shot. So every shot has it’s own folder of frames. For example, if you have a 300 frame visual effects shot, that folder would contain 300 images, each one numbered sequentially. Frame.0001, frame.0002, frame.0003, etc, all the way to frame.0300. You can download a bunch of frame sequences from my Free Stuff page if you don’t have any.
Being able to view these frame sequences without opening up a compositing or editing program every time is important, and it’s something you’re going to be doing a lot, so naturally, a few programs have turned up to make viewing them easy and fast. When I was deciding on one, it was hard finding any video tutorials or reviews on them, so I had to just download them all and try them out. I thought it’d be useful to post little overview videos of what are, in my opinion, the top three. In future tutorials here at OpenVisualFX, you’ll see me using one of them all the time.
There are quite a few others out there that I haven’t reviewed here (such as Scratch Play and BView), but I wanted to cover ones that were available on all OS platforms and played all the formats a VFX artist typically uses.
I suppose I should also mention that for viewing movies and videos, I use VLC. I haven’t touched Quicktime in years. Quicktime’s playback tool are terrible on Windows, and not only is it being discontinued on Windows, the US Department of Homeland Security actually advises you to uninstall it. So yeah, leave Quicktime behind. VLC is spectacular.
My personal favorite, which can be downloaded HERE.