Natron – compositing software for VFX and motion graphics

Natron is a free and open-source node-based compositing software. It has been influenced by digital compositing software such as Nuke, from which its user interface and many of its concepts are derived, and Abode After Effects.

Natron offers robust and efficient tools for compositors to get their job done fast with high quality results.

It is portable and cross-platform (Linux, OS X, Microsoft Windows).

Features include:

  • 32 bits floating point linear color processing pipeline all frames are represented as floating-point RGBA samples with premultiplied alpha, allowing the use of alpha compositing operators.
  • Colorspace management handled by the famous open-source OpenColorIO library.
  • Dozens of file formats supported using OpenImageIO, including multi-layer OpenEXR: EXR, DPX,TIFF, PSD, SVG, Raw, JPG, PNG…thanks to OpenImageIO. and FFmpeg.
  • Full support of the OpenFX 1.3 API. Support for many free and open-source OpenFX

    • OpenFX-IO: to read anything else than standard 8-bits images (bundled with pre-compiled versions of Natron).
    • OpenFX-Misc: A set of basic nodes, such as Transform, chroma keyer, etc… (bundled with the pre-compiled versions of Natron).
    • OpenFX-Arena: A set of extra nodes (bundled with the pre-compiled versions of Natron).
    • OpenFX-OpenCV: A set of plugins based on OpenCV.
    • OpenFX-Yadif deinterlacer: An open-source efficient de-interlacer.
    • OpenFX-Vegas SDK samplesOpenFX samples.
  • Support for commercial OpenFX plugins:
    • RevisionFX products.
    • NeatVideo denoiser.
    • Furnace by The Foundry.
    • KeyLight by The Foundry.
    • GenArts Sapphire.
    • Other GenArts products.
    • And many more.
    • OpenFX v1.4 supported.
  • Intuitive user interface.
  • Support for multi-core architectures: all processing is multithreaded using a thread pool pattern.
  • Multi-task: Natron can render multiple graphs at the same time.
  • Network rendering: Natron can be used as a command-line tool and can be integrated on a render farm manager such as Afanasy.
  • NatronRenderer: A command line tool for execution of project files and python scripts. The command line version is executable from ssh on a computer without any display.
  • Support for stereoscopic 3D and multi-view processing.
  • Auto-save system detects inactivity and saves your work. Also Natron provides the option to render a graph in a separate process.
  • Fast & interactive Viewer – Smooth & accurate zooming/panning even for very large image sizes (tested on 27k x 30k images).
  • Real-time playback: Natron offers a real-time playback with thanks to its RAM/Disk cache technology. Once a frame is rendered, it can be reproduced instantly afterwards, even for large image sizes.
  • Motion editing: Natron offers a simple and efficient way to deal with keyframes with a very accurate and intuitive curve editor. You can set expressions on animation curves to create easy and believable motion for objects. Natron also incorporates a fully featured dope-sheet to quickly edit clips and keyframes in time-space.
  • Multi-view workflow: Natron saves time by keeping all the views in the same stream. You can separate the views at any time with the OneView node.
  • Rotoscoping/Rotopainting: Edit your masks and animate them to work with complex shots using Bézier curves.
  • Key frame-based parameter animation, using Bernstein polynomials (the polynomial basis behind Bézier curves) for interpolation.
  • Tracker node: A point tracker is embedded in Natron to track multiple points.
  • Presets: Nodes presets can be imported/exported easily with an XML file format.
  • Python scripting: Natron has made available via its Python API most of its functionalities. Natron embeds a Python 2.7 interpreter that can be used to customize thoroughly the application:
    • Parameters expressions.
    • User-defined parameters.
    • Nodes groups as Python scripts.
    • Script editor to control the application overall.
    • User-defined python callbacks to respond to particular checkpoints of the internals of the software (change of a parameter, before rendering a frame, etc…).
    • Integration of Pyside to the GUI so that the interface is extensible with new menus and windows.
  • Multi-plane: In Natron all layers read from EXR’s or TIFF’s are available as planes that each node can access. You can also freely create your own custom planes. This allows for cleaner graphs and more efficient work.
  • Low hardware requirements: All you need is an x86 64 bits or 32 bits processor, at least 3 GB of RAM and a graphic card that supports OpenGL 2.0 or OpenGL 1.5 with some extensions.

Support: Wiki, Forum, GitHub
Developer: Alexandre Gauthier, Frédéric Devernay
License: GNU GPL v2


Natron is written in C++. Learn C++ with our recommended free books and free tutorials.

Return to Video Home Page

Popular series
Linux for StartersNew to Linux? Read our Linux for Starters series. We start right at the basics and teach you everything you need to know to get started with Linux.
Free and Open Source SoftwareThe largest compilation of the best free and open source software in the universe. Each article is supplied with a legendary ratings chart helping you make informed decisions.
Linux ReviewsHundreds of in-depth reviews offering our unbiased and expert opinion on software. We offer helpful and impartial information.
Alternatives to GoogleAlternatives to Google's Products and Services examines your options to migrate from the Google ecosystem with open source Linux alternatives.
MicrosoftAlternatives to Microsoft's Products and Services recommends open source Linux software.
AdobeAlternatives to Adobe Cloud looks at free and open source alternatives to products available from Adobe Cloud's subscription service.
AppleAlternatives to Apple recommends free and open source alternatives to Apple's proprietary world.
CorelAlternatives to Corel surveys alternatives to Corel's range of graphics processing products and other software applications.
DockerGetting Started with Docker helps you master Docker, a set of platform as a service products that delivers software in packages called containers.
Linux System ToolsEssential Linux system tools focuses on small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users.
Linux ProductivityLinux utilities to maximise your productivity. Small, indispensable tools, useful for anyone running a Linux machine.
Home Computer EmulatorsHome computers became commonplace in the 1980s. Emulate home computers including the Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, ZX81, Amstrad CPC, and ZX Spectrum.
Now and ThenNow and Then examines how promising open source software fared over the years. It can be a bumpy ride.
Linux at HomeLinux at Home looks at a range of home activities where Linux can play its part, making the most of our time at home, keeping active and engaged.
Linux CandyLinux Candy reveals the lighter side of Linux. Have some fun and escape from the daily drudgery.
Best Free Android AppsBest Free Android Apps. We showcase free Android apps that are definitely worth downloading. There's a strict eligibility criteria for inclusion in this series.
Programming BooksThese best free books accelerate your learning of every programming language. Learn a new language today!
Programming TutorialsThese free tutorials offer the perfect tonic to our free programming books series.
Stars and StripesStars and Stripes is an occasional series looking at the impact of Linux in the USA.
Share this article

Share your Thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.