Nuke Quick Tip: Roto node autokey

Dealing with the quirks of the Roto node autokey feature in Nuke.

Today I’m spotlighting the autokey feature of the Roto node in Nuke. This is a simple tip but it may save you some hassle when working with roto shapes you DON’T want to animate in any way. This is one of the quirks of the Roto node that can cause a hassle depending on the behavior you are hoping for in a given situation. Here is how to deal with it.

By default autokey is clicked ON which causes shapes to get a keyframe on the frame you initial draw them on, or to get new keyframes if you move even a single CV the tiniest bit on some other frame. Often times that’s the behavior you want. But I find that more often than not, for g-mattes in particular, it’s exactly NOT what I want. I want no key frames and a shape I can edit on any frame without inadvertently creating keyframes which will cause the shape to in-between. Here is how you get that behavior.

Locate the autokey control in the upper left hand corner of the Viewer when a roto node is selected and active in the Properties window. Click this button so it is NOT depressed to disable autokey. If you draw a shape with autokey turned off it wont create a keyframe on the frame you initially draw the shape on, which for this particular scenario of creating a shape that is only ever intended to be static is just what you want.

When I make one of these “always static” roto shapes I also delete any keyframes on the shape if I have accidentally created it with a keyframe. (Which seems to be… every time. Since the autokey is always ON by default when you create a new roto node.)

My main reason for deleting the keyframes is I can then edit the shape on any frame without creating animation between that keyframe and some frame where the original keyframe was created. It makes the shape a static shape you can edit on ANY frame without causing it to in-between since there are no keyframes at all on it and no autokey behavior enabled in the UI when working on the shape. It also makes them a bit easier to spot in the roto node as one of your “I’m never going to animate that shape” paths even if you don’t bother naming the shapes in the property bin. If you subsequently decide you actually want to animate the shape you can just turn autokey on and start dragging the shape on the frames you want to create keyframes on.

I hope this tip is helpful to you!

A quick reminder, my Ask Me Anything live stream is this coming Saturday.

What: Break Into VFX: Office Hours with Aaron

When: Nov 4, 2023, 3:00 PM Mountain Time.

Where: The LearnVFX YouTube Channel

Hope to see you there!