Looking around on the internet, you find it gets quite heated on this subject, but what do the two programs mean for 2D animation?
From what I can tell, After Effects is the standard software for animation. This is probably because an awful lot of people use this one piece of software to pay the bills as most commercial work, as I’ve heard from a lot of our guest speakers, is completed inside the software as you can have the whole pipeline inside the one program if you want.
Adobe products are also universal. That’s why we’re taught them in secondary, sixth form and Uni. Any art and design company, let alone animation company, is going to have the products available. What’s great about them is their massive compatibility, the storyboarders can throw together some panels in Photoshop, send them over to be made into animatics in premier. Once that’s been finalised, it gets sent over to animation where it can be dropped straight into Flash as a guide. Once the animation is done, the Flash projects and background PSDs can be opened up in After FX and composited into the final shots without once leaving the creative cloud.
It makes a great case for After FX as a tool.
So why would anyone use NUKE? The nature of its UI, being a node based compositor, makes things a lot easier to understand when you have a big, complex project. This makes sense to use for compositing realistic, multi-layered CG or special effects work.
The other thing NUKE has going for it is the fact it has a genuine 3D workspace unlike After FX which imitates one. That’s great, but why would that be of any use to 2D animators? Most of the perks that come from working with NUKE are to do with 3D file compatibility which isn’t much use to 2D animators, unless they’re working with mixed media.