Pattern Browsing - where are the landmines?

Hi all - about to start a large project with a lot of CG and nuke artists involved. Pattern Browsing seems pretty awesome, and my initial tests are showing promise. But I’ve heard various comments like “is PB fixed yet?”.

Just curious what breaks when you push it into real production. Any tips and gotchas to look out for?

The only thing that I’ve found that breaks it is people errors with metadata. Once you have someone forget to render with timecode or change naming conventions, you;'ll have some manual futzing around to do.

It’s an incredible tool. Just make sure your artists feeding you give it the same damn name every time with a version number update, and metadata that is spot on.

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I love using pattern browsing, personally I use it whenever possible.
As Randy says, everyone just needs to render things back the same every time. Same folder structure(and naming), file naming, and timecode etc.
Simple enough with a Nuke artist easier said then done with a CG artist, lol


The best thing you can do to test it and become familiar with it is to make your own folder structure and play around with the tokens. Like so…


Just make a single frame of color bars or noise or something and literally paint on the frame VERSION 1 on v1, etc etc.

And frame padding. Your biggest feck you moments will be when you decide what frame padding will need to be. If you start at *.1001.exr for example, and don’t load EXRs with timecode from header, you’ll instantly have a bad time.


I have given it a fairly good run for its money. It looks very promising and with everyone following a strict naming convention it works but with some caveats.

Great for Nuke renders. Enables these renders to work like openClips without having to make OpenClips. Equally it works well for animation playblasts. When maintaining an animation WiP timeline it can help you update all shots to their highest version with one simple click. This works with RGBA.

The problem I found with 2020.3 was it seemed unable to work sucessfully with multi-layered EXRs so no good for CG renders. This is a shame because I really wanted this feature to work on CG passes. The prospect of updating the CG renders with a simple click of a button really appeals to me.

One other small side effect is that it might turn you in to a militant artist. Insisting that everyone follows the strict naming and folder structure. Fortunately I was already like this but it gave me a stronger platform on which to preach.

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also love PB for big jobs with lots of artists. Make sure ahead of time everyone knows how to name things, keep the renders always the same resolution, duration and TC and you should be good. In the past if someone renders to a nonstandard resolution i’ve found if you delete the offending render from the server it can get PB back on track. Also sometimes if you have pattern browsing turned on and you are just navigating through folders on your server it can annoying as it will slowdown to sift through all the folders searching for files. just turn it off in media hub during those moments, it won’t undo the clips you already brought in. Flame on!


Awesome - thanks, everyone. I am doing all of the prep, so can publish out EXRs with Fr1001, and then artists will all submit work through Shotgun for Creative Director approval, and when he likes it, it will publish out to the server from Shotgun, so all of the naming and placing should be very well regulated. The only hiccup will be with the anamorphic plates and whether we’re rendering full resolution frames or unsqueezing them - hopefully we can be consistent with that!

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If you are planning as well to use nuke render with shot backplate, be careful with the timecode burned in the metadata.
Nuke uses by default the b(back) input.
If, in the middle of the versioning, you switch to a Matte Painting or CG in the back and you are not adding a node to copy back the original metadata, it will break.

Except this boring point it is great.
I would love so much flame to align the version based on the frame number … …

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Ohh - yeah, that could be an issue. With the PB - does it use timecode to align? Even with Fr numbers in the file names?

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Yes, it uses timecode. If you hand out exports with source timecodes like the good timeline cop you are, but then someone gives you back bs timecode, or you load their clip with using the frame numbers to drive the timecode, then boom. Broken pattern browsing.


Ha, Timeline Cop - good title for me! :wink:


Remove the meat!
Use shotgun.
Except, well, shotgun can be pretty unusable too.
There’s another option - I can’t remember what it’s called - ntropic made it?

But whatever, yes, remove overworked and tired artists from the naming conventions and metadata injection/preservation. It’s just too 1990s.

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Pattern Browsing working quite well - at least for the finished comp versions. A little tricky when passing off to various artists. For example - one artist doing a background comp/clean up while I am doing a screen insert on the same shot. I can easily version up the new background in the timeline - but if I bring that source into batch, I can’t figure out how to make it update and see the new versions. Any ideas? Don’t tell me to use a BFX! :wink:

Asking for a friend (Ben Turner since you ask).

We have a bunch of playblasts all with slightly differing names rendered in the same parent folder (screengrab attached). Apparently Nuke Studio/Hiero can version up and down all these subtly different named renders but in flame it doesn’t seem to work.

Could there be a way round this? No matter what tokens are played around with the flame insists on adding name as the first one.

Are these all meant to be the same playblast?

Not three unique ones?

Fuck knows Rich. To me they look like different idea solutions to the same shot since they’re in the same parent folder. It’s not orthodox but this is where we are.

If they are three different playblast sequences then I am hopeful.

Save that and grab the animAlt playblasts.

<name>_anim_animation_v<version> _wip
Save this and grab the other one.

Then …
<name>_withBed_animation_v<version> _wip

This will get you three openClips/pattern browser clips.

If they are supposed to be one playblast but with terrible naming convention I am not sure that you can put a wild card in to your pattern. Sorry

Not on the box so my syntax is almost certainly wrong but I hope you get the idea.

It is completely ridiculous that Hiero/Nuke work without any configuration for 99% of all image sequences out there, yet something so basic we have to “program” Flame.


I wonder if we could reverse engineer….?

Tell him he’s a lazy bastard for not signing up for an account here. He’s been ignoring my invites for ages. After all we’ve been through together? Especially after that thing at NAB with the guy and the place? Tsk tsk. :slight_smile: