|Whether youve been using Combustion* since its first release, or youre just starting out, Combustion v2: The On-Line WebWarriors Guide by Jack Pfeiffer is a treasure trove of useful information.
It starts with an extremely in depth hardware primer to help you build a box that will get the most out of combustion, whether you prefer a mac or a pc. From there you go directly into three tutorials. The first two orient you to the big concepts of combustion, its workspaces and toolbars, working in 3D space, and lighting. The third tutorial focuses on combustions ability to use the z depth information in rla & rpf files generated in 3ds Max, a neat feature which can save a lot of rerendering of 3D files by allowing a host of flexible changes to occur in 3D space.
As you work through these tutorials you will find not only the hows for operations, but the whys as well. This is particularly helpful as it allows you to apply the techniques learned in situations that may seem unrelated. There is also information on hotkeys and ways to set values which will help you to set up your workflow to match the way you feel most comfortable working.
Next is a very thorough review of the Discreet tutorials, on-line help and FAQs as well as other web based combustion tutorials available for download. I know this isnt really new information, but I like having ALL the info in one source for reference.
At this point you should be thoroughly grounded in the basics of Combustion, and this is the where the meat really starts for those who have been using combustion for awhile. First theres an overview of Combustion concepts and terms which explains such things as 3D space, branches, operators, schematic view, nesting of layers, hinging, masking, colour resolution and film tools.
Chapter 11 covers blurs and explains what each type is, when to use each and why. This chapter alone can save you enormous time as blurs can make for time intensive renders.
The chapter on particles follows and provides not only a good introduction to using particles in combustion but also points out the most common errors, points to some additional tutorials, and even tells you how to get more free particle libraries, and how to create your own particles.
The chapter on text explains in detail all the controls available with the powerful new text editor in combustion2. It also includes common errors and tutorials to help you put this new knowledge into practice.
The chapter on paint explains the advantages of Combustions paint module, including the ease of making changes. It too, includes tutorials and common errors, then goes into a great explanation of the various draw modes which clearly explains what each mode does, greatly simplifying the job of picking the right tool for the effect you desire.
The chapter on keying, colour correction and tracking is a must for all combustion users. These are extremely powerful tools, but the range of options is huge and the trial and effect mode is slow and may never yield the best results. This chapter demystifies the options, gives helpful hints on things such as how to get a good chroma key from DV footage, and enlightens you on the order in which processes occur (which helps you know where to start) or which process should be done before others to maintain the best image.
There is also a very good section on rendering, including a very clear explanation of the various codecs and which is best for what purpose, and there is also a guide to still file formats.
There is an entire chapter on tips and tricks for utilizing the 3D space information in 3ds max rla/rpf files, which includes an explanation and description of what information is saved in these files.
There is also a beefy chapter covering plug-ins for Combustion, what is available (that has been shown to work with combustion) what it does and where to install it if you have it.
Finally, for those of you who also use other discreet* products, there are chapters covering combustion* integration with edit* as well as a chapter covering use with cleaner*.