All signs point to go for Autodesk's big, long, free beta period for its upcoming release of Smoke 2013 for Mac. Follow the link to the download, fill out the form, install something called the Akamai NetSession Interface and Smoke will come your way in just over 1 Gig. In case you missed the news, Autodesk is taking what was a 5-figure vfx and composting application and have reimagined it as a $3,500 vfx and compositing application with a full-featured nonlinear editor grafted onto the front. It's a bold move that is going to certainly move Smoke into some markets where it never had a presence before. Exactly how functional and usable the NLE interface is in the real world with real-world edits remains to be seen, but I can personally attest to the fact that this new Smoke 2013 is way more approachable now than it was before. 

It's important to check out the system requirements as outlined by Autodesk:

Requirements for Autodesk Smoke 2013 pre-release trial software

  • Apple Mac OS X version 10.6.6, 10.6.7, 10.7.2, or 10.7.3
  • 64-bit Intel multicore processor
  • Refer to the Recommended Hardware wizard for a detailed list of recommended systems and graphics cards
  • 8 GB or more of RAM strongly recommended
  • 3 GB free disk space for download and installation
  • Minimum 1,440 x 900 display (1,920 x 1,200 or higher recommended)
  • U.S. keyboard (Required to properly map hotkeys)

Application-Specific Options

  • For playback performance, we recommend installing Smoke with a separate storage volume/partition for the Media Storage location (such as on an external Thunderbolt drive or array).
  • AJA KONA, KONA 3G, or IOxT Thunderbolt device for video I/O require AJA driver 10.3 (for OS X 10.7.x) and 10.3.1 (for OS X 10.6.x)
  • Wacom Intuos Tablet: Intuos2, Intuos3, Intuos4, and Intuos5 USB models are supported.

These specs aren't too steep, since Smoke 2013 was engineered to work well on iMacs and MacBook Pros. It's also important to check out the READ ME file you'll find on the download page; there are certain features that have not been implemented at this point. Some of those feature controls are visible, so it's a good read before you begin working with the beta. There's also a Smoke Learning Channel on YouTube, which will be any editor's best friend as he or she tries to figure out this powerful application. 

First DaVinci Resolve goes free, Avid Symphony crossgrades at $999 (which ends very soon, btw), and Smoke gets affordable. What's next? Mistika on an iPad?