Stories of OLD FLAME

There was a time when you could only animate the transparency of two types of blend modes in action: “blend” and “spotlight blend”. Screen, Add and Multiply were all still there, but the transparency slider did nothing.

On the forum of the era, Flame-news, people would brag about how they had tricks to get Multiply or Screen to work.

I’ve been doing this so long, I just thought “man, I’m glad I can do this without going into the color correct layer” as I animated a Screen mode transparency to 100%. And then I decided to post about it.


Additionally, projects use to have a resolution. So if you were working at SD, every single image inside your flame had to be SD. If you wanted a long pan across multiple frames, you had to tile them up in action.


How about when action in batch only let you pipe the back in and no layers? Those were the days… processing everything…


Until your DL8 ran out of frames.


I seem to be the only one to remember this, but there was a time when the direction of motion blur was dependent on which side of the animation axis you positioned the mo-blur axis in the schematic. I don’t think it lasted long.
And, of course, if you cut a bunch of links between axii/surfaces, by accident, there was no undo.


We had an excel sheet that would tell you the coordinates to plug in on import for that tiling, based on the red of your source images and the res of the project.

I also remember that you could hijack the blend curves to make transparency work when multiplying.


Oh man, as @cnoellert would say “and I wore an onion on my belt, as was the style at the time.”

That said, I’ve been waiting for this thread forever, because I was never going to bring these things up unprompted:

Remember when there was only Add and Blend in Action and when we begged for other transfer modes they told us the performance would be so shitty that we’d wish we hadn’t?

Remember when we all used flame 5.5.1 for like 4 years?

Remember when they changed the interface colors and introduced the discreet font and promised (me, specifically) that we’d grow to like it? Well I HAVEN’T!


Sometimes I have to start and finish a shot faster than we could reboot an Onyx II IR.


As an assistant I paid off my student loans with the OT I worked striping tapes and archiving to D1.


Before there was a timeline we had to cut/splice on the reels, and we didn’t have gestural editing. All cut and splice operations were done via the menu.

Also in action schematic we had to press “p” to activate “parent mode” then draw a line from parent to child.


Wasn’t it Rich Bobo who did the auto-tile script? I seem to remember using it at some point.


Not just that, it had the DVE object which was a couple axis and surface object wrapped up with a source node front and matte. Strange little thing that lasted longer than it should have.

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Tile-o-mat! Yep, pretty sure it was Rich.


That was actually the “action” node of smoke and fire. It was handy in that source front/matte nodes were built into it, but the “re-entry” feature was a bear, there were no expressions and although it was capable of doing a lot, it was really convoluted in it’s approach. I think it only lasted as long as it did because it was a carry-over when smoke and flame started to merge around v7 or so. Smoke users could fall back on something familiar if action was too much to figure out in a single cycle of updates. It lingered way too long.

I was referring to the DVE object, but as I say it, that was in fact after Smoke got action. I don’t seem to remember the original DVE having a schematic even. There was so much emphasis placed on it being a man online editor/edit box replacement at the time. Do you remember @ytf?

…full disclosure though, I switched over to smoke from flame when Premium lic granted batch access. Incidentally Smoke Premium remains in my mind the best pre-anniversary software Autodesk ever created.


It did not have a schematic. It was introduced into flame at the same time action was introduced into smoke. I think it was put into flame for greater cross application efficiency. I agree with your version assessment.

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Fun bit of history (for me, anyway): we all remember when they removed the friendly but limited Edit Reel from flame and replaced it with the smoke timeline, because folks FREAKED OUT. Well the very next cycle smoke was due to have DVE replaced with action and some people in the product management team were quite terrified of how that was going to go over, given the vitriol they’d just endured re: the smokification of flame.

Well they did it, and I could be wrong but I honestly don’t remember anybody saying much of anything. Smoke guys were like, “oh, cool! Action! Can we have batch too?”

My theory at the time was that smoke folks already used flame far more than vice versa.

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Everyone’s forgotten this one… NO GMASK SPLINES!

We had a bloody terrible ‘crop’ type tool that only had straight lines between the points, and no way of tracking it to anything! It may well have only been available in the paint node??? Oh what joy the day when we got splines that you could attach an axis to and track it! Still remember the first job I used it for. Must have been 1997/98…


DVE did have a schematic in smoke. You could add axes to DVE objects. It didn’t have much else that I recall.

Layer re-entry was interesting though it softened the layer a lot.

I’m surprised no one has mentioned the era when there was no batch yet. Everything was done in action. Any pre-processing was done to individual clips on the desktop (and as Sinan mentioned, there was no timeline, everything had to be cut together gesturally, on the reels).

I remember when batch first arrived, and it was totally unworkable. Ground my system to a halt. Great concept, but not ready for prime time. I wrote it off for a long time - too long of a time. By the time I took another look, it had matured, and was (more or less) the batch we know today.

Then, the “fashion” turned to doing everything in batch, and barely using action, except for comping the layers back together. It seemed like “nuke envy” (or was it “shake envy”?) It seems the tide has turned somewhat, and it seems that action is once again becoming in favor, due to it’s heavy feature development in the past bunch of years.

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that’s amazing haha