Backyard: Come Night Fall – Natron & Lightworks production journey

I am creating a 3 minute short for an iPhone Film Festival that would like to enter. I am using Filmic Pro film/video recording app.  It is one of the best if not the best filmmakers app for the iPhone. I am using Editshares Lightworks to ingest and editing my own personal short films. I own FCPx and Avid Media Composer, but Lightworks has certain effects built-in that I find conducive to my abstract film work.

The image below is an incomplete assembly edit and more footage & audio/sound-bytes will be added.  The main point of this blog is that I wanted to show how you can use free and open source software together to get a project done.


The image below is Natron Digital Compositor. It is a very powerful open source app that provides features that are in commercial digital vfx compositing software. I am using Natron to do all of my 2D tracking and visual effect overlays and then render them out to ingest in to Lightworks for final grading.


Lightworks can use Natron as a helper app like it was a plugin but there are other issues of roundtrip processing that is not implemented as of now.  Your work around is to create a edit or sub-clip for each shot that needs vfx and render them out. Import them into Natron, process the shot & render, then ingest back into Lightworks for finishing. It is a symbiotic relationship between the two apps.

The video below is a 2D track using two trackers. One tracker was for XY Translation and the second tracker used was for scale and rotation. The wind was blowing a tree in my backyard for the initial opening effect. I use those flower buds to match move my overlaid text.  Natron TrackPM node has gotten better since V2.0 snapshot development. I was able to just use the SAD score tracking algorithm instead of the NCC or ZNCC. Lighting variations didn’t break the 2D solves.


More footage will need to be captured and more out door sound bytes will need to be recorded. Natron can handle larger project and effects than this short I am doing. It is nice to see that the tracker is much more production ready.

The video below is a screen capture of Natron’s TrackerPM node in progress.