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16. May 2016

 

MakeHuman 1.1 was just released today.  This marks the first release to Make Human in nearly two years and adds major new functionality such as a new pose system and completely new and more game friendly skeleton support.  MakeHuman started life as a Blender plugin but was since spun off into a stand alone application.  It enables people to quickly and easily create fully rigged and textured human models.  Oh and it’s complete free and released under the CC0 Creative Commons open source license, perhaps the most liberal license in existence.

 

image

Major components of this release include:

  • Many bug fixes and stability fixes
  • Many targets improved and minor modeling corrections
  • Completely new skeleton and posing system, with support for pose loading from BVH, and support for custom weight and proxies
  • New pose system with auto-rigging, support for T-pose export, and initial support for special poses like high heel shoes
  • New skin library with age variation
  • New expression system now based on a face bone rig, including a library with facial expressions.
  • Improved topologies/proxies
  • FBX export now supports binary FBX and should work for most third-part applications which support FBX

 

 

You can read the full release notes here.

 

You can watch a video of MakeHuman in action below.

GameDev News Art


20. April 2016

 

One of the advantages to moving to a subscription model is we now see continuous project improvement instead of a massive dump of features every couple of years.  Maya has taken the approach of extending via the extensions releases.   They just released the second set of extensions for Maya 2016.

New features include:

  • a new render setup system enabling artists to group and configure objects as they prefer
  • new animation blend shape system with updated UI
  • new tools for creation of blend shapes
  • new post space deformation system (PSD) enable sculpted changes on a per pose basis
  • new quick rig system via HumanIK
  • new xgen system for hair creation
  • added motion graphics toolset, procedural geometry system

 

For a comprehensive demonstration of new UV and modelling changes watch the following (extremely quite...) video:

 

You can read more about this release here.

Art GameDev News


19. April 2016

 

In slightly head scratching news, immediately following the release of 3ds Max 2017 which among other things included a new renderer, Autodesk have acquired Solid Angle and their Arnold rendering technology.  So what exactly is Arnold?

Arnold is an advanced Monte Carlo ray tracing renderer built for the demands of feature-length animation and visual effects. Originally co-developed withSony Pictures Imageworks and now their main renderer, Arnold is used at over 300 studios worldwide including ILM, Framestore, MPC, The Mill and Digic Pictures. Arnold was the primary renderer on dozens of films from Monster House and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to Pacific Rim and Gravity. It is available as a standalone renderer on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X, with plug-ins for Maya, Softimage, Houdini, Cinema 4D and Katana.

Now the announcement:

Big news today! We are proud and excited to let you know that our team at Solid Angle has made a move that expands in a big way our capacity to keep pushing rendering forward. We’ve joined Autodesk! We are now part of the passionate Media & Entertainment team that includes Maya, Shotgun and RV, working to help artists create beautiful animation and VFX faster and easier across platforms and pipelines.

The full story is here but we want to call out the most important things directly.

First, what you love about Arnold isn’t going to change. The Solid Angle team is still leading and driving Arnold’s technology direction, development and support. We have not handed Arnold over – we have joined Autodesk to keep moving it forward at the speed you know and expect, working closely with you as always. We are still here to help you with licensing, sales and support.

Second, development of Arnold plug-ins for Katana, Cinema4D, Houdini and Softimage – and other software will absolutely continue. Openness is everyone’s goal.

 

So... how long does everyone figure Arnold will continue to be made available for Cinema4D and Houdini?  Unless of course Autodesk buys them too.

GameDev News


18. April 2016

 

Over on the Autodesk AREA blog Autodesk just announced the new features in the upcoming 3ds Max 2017.  3D Studios Max is a long running 3d content creation application, perhaps most often used for game development.  It seems there are several new features coming in the 2017 release.

New features include:

  • an updated UI and High DPI monitor support
  • viewport performance improvements, up to 300%
  • improvements to performance and usability of Unwrap UVW including:
    • Dramatic Performance improvements
    • New Packing Algorithm
    • New Peeling based on ABF(Angle Based Flattening)
    • Point-to-Point Selection Preview
    • Symmetrical Geometry Selection 
    • Loop Selection and Ring Selection
    • Display Only Selected Polygon in viewport
  • a new ray tracer, ART (Autodesk Raytracer Renderer)
  • new Physical material for replicating real world surfaces
  • new Sun Positioner
  • new Scene Converter to ease move to different renderers or game engines
  • scanline renderer multi core support scaled to 128 cores
  • modeling object tool improvements, including:
    • local align
    • sub object picking
    • point to selection
    • boolean and hard surface modeling improvements
  • animation controllers
  • custom attributes
  • python integration
  • skin weighting with geodesic voxel and heat map skinning
  • new text and shape tools

You can see several of the new features in this montage video

Art GameDev News


14. April 2016

 

PlayCanvas is a popular and capable 3D WebGL based game engine I previously covered in this Closer Look entry.  Today they announced the addition of runtime light mapping.  Lightmapping is one of those tricks game engines use to make lighting in a game look great with low performance cost.  However they also generally involve several tools and a lightmap baking process.  Today PlayCanvas announced runtime support for lightmapping:

How does it work?

For the uninitiated, lightmaps are extra textures that contain pre-computed lighting information that are applied to models at runtime. This means that instead of expensive per-pixel lighting, you can pre-compute static lighting that is incredibly cheap to render on the GPU.

We’ve also specially designed our lightmapping solution for the needs of the web. In the Sponza scene above, there are 5 lights which generate 65 lightmaps applied to the 240,000 triangle mesh that makes up the scene. In total, this generates over 60MB of HDR lightmap textures. Even with an excellent compression ratio, it would be very time consuming to download this texture data. So we’ve designed the PlayCanvas lightmapper to be unique among both native and WebGL engines. The PlayCanvas Engine generates all lightmaps on application start. In a few hundred milliseconds, we generate all the textures required for static lighting so your scene runs super-smoothly across all devices.

What’s good about it?

Performance

Just see for yourself. Switch between the lightmapped and dynamic lighting modes in the Sponza demo above. On a MacBook Pro or a recent mobile device like a Nexus 5 or iPhone 6, the lightmapped scene runs at 60fps. Using the real-time dynamic lighting we have to sample 5 filtered shadow maps (one for each light) which seriously affects performance.

With this new feature, we’re enabling WebGL developers to create beautifully lit 3D scenes that run in all browsers from low end mobile to high end desktop. Not only will your application run smoothly on mobile, it will also load incredibly fast.

Ease-of-use

The lightmapping tools are built directly into the Editor. To get started, you just need to flick a couple of check boxes on your light and model components and hit the Bake button. Find out more by reading the new documentation.

Features, Features, Features

Of course, there are also all the bells and whistles that make the lightmapper a dream to use. We generate HDR lightmaps so everything looks great. You can mix and match your static and dynamic lighting to give you the best of both worlds. We even auto-magically UV-unwrap your models if you haven’t already generated lightmap UVs.

 

You can read more about it, and witness a demo of lightmaps in action, right here.

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