Those who have more experience in the area probably know and even work with some paid software to execute tasks of this type, being After Effects or Motion for Final Cut Pro X some of the most popular options.
In 2018, among all these alternatives, Natron appeared, offering a digital compositor capable of handling 2D and 2.5D graphics “through the use of OIIO file formats and an OpenFX architecture, which make Natron the most flexible open source compositor for the visual effects community,” according to their website.
Natron has a multi-platform, node-based graphical interface, which at first glance may seem somewhat complex. However, they point out that they offer an intuitive solution, through a system of windows that can be separated and distributed among all the monitors you have available, if you use more than one. In addition, it is compatible with Retina screens in macOS.
Also, this post-production tool has a set of tools that can generate unlimited layers of masks and shapes.
Software in this category is often demanding on hardware resources, but in Natron’s case these requirements are much more manageable. All you need is a 64-bit or 32-bit x86 processor, at least 3 GB of RAM and a graphics card that supports OpenGL version 1.5 or higher and with some extensions.
While working on your project within the application, you can monitor its progress in real time. Natron has a player that operates thanks to its RAM / Disk cache technology. Once a frame is processed, it can be played back instantly, even for large images. The program can generate multiple graphics simultaneously and use 100% of the computing power of your CPU.
Another outstanding feature in Natron is that all layers read from EXR, TIFF or PSD files are available as planes, where each node can be accessed. You can also freely create your own custom maps. This allows for cleaner graphics and more efficient working.
This tool has a Python API, which provides access to an important part of its functions. This allows you to connect to it through a command line, which is ssh executable on a computer without any screen.
From Natron they point out that they trust the open source community. “The collective effort of artists, developers and researchers is combined in one application to make a difference. A large and growing collection of well maintained add-ons can be found in Natron’s official community add-on repository,” says their website.