Autodesk 3D launch: Life just got easier for prod artists

Developments in technology are speeding up production tasks and widening creative possibilities. This was clearly evident as the huge audience comprising professional artists greeted feature upon new feature with awe at the Autodesk 3D launch tour presentations at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai.

The team at Autodesk has been successful in developing quite a few new features that draw upon the latest advancements in hardware technology. The peaking of both software and hardware advancements rarely occur simultaneously, and when they do like they have been these days, it amounts to a lot!!!

“The software drives the hardware, then the hardware drives the software and eventually everybody focuses on the artists and enhancing their creative potential,â€? pointed out Kevin Schooler, Application Engineer – Motion Builder & Maya at Autodesk.

Key themes visible amongst the developments in all the new versions were more realism, simulation capabilities, advanced interoperability options, lessening of redundant tasks through advanced algorithms and enhanced previews to name a few.

The Autodesk 3D Launch tour Mumbai held on 13 September 2007 at Grand Hyatt witnessed close to 1000 artists and was part of a 16 city tour across Asia. New versions launched included 3ds Max 2008, Maya 2008, Motion Builder 7.5 and Toxik 2008.

The features and possibilities that the new software enabled were presented and explained by Autodesk’s team of experts including Warren Bones (Application Specialist – Toxik), Kevin Schooler (Application Engineer – Motion Builder & Maya) Prem Moraes (Application Specialist – India & ASIAN) and Ivon Smith (Application Specialist 3ds Max ‘ APAC).

Maya 2008: Ncloth
Amongst the features that got the most response from the Mumbai crowd included Ncloth, a new feature in Maya 2008. This enables enhanced cloth simulation functionality within a few seconds and to quote Autodesk’s Prem Moraes, “It can also be used for other non cloth related simulation including feathers, leaves etc.”

The sub functionalities within this feature including wind noise frame (which gave cool ripple effects), wind shadow distance as well as component constant sub feature makes a thousand complex simulations possible in a jiffy.

MotionBuilder7.5: Pose Controls & Pivot Points
The pose controls and especially the ability to use pivot points to reorient models over frames was an extremely interesting demo and again looked promising and fun. The animation can also be transferred to other characters.

Max 2008: Camera Shaders
Now, this means even more aesthetics possible, thanks to the tech. The camera shaders demo from the new Max 2008 displayed its capability to simulate glares in motion and also puts into the hands of users a complete array of photographic exposure controls including Fstops, Apertures et al. The directional lighting as well as sub shadows capability through the SkyPortal feature was equally awe inspiring.

Toxik 2008: Now available Standalone
Toxik 2008 which uses Python scripting and currently works with an oracle database is now available as a standalone product for compositing, whereas the database product can also be bought separately.

The demo emphasis was on the combined use of depth of field and blur to give an optically correct result. Also showcased was the expressions calculator which can be used without too much of mathematical know-how.

Also the Bujou tracks can be saved as Maya Files and then worked upon in Toxik.

The presenters were throughout engaged in stressing to the artists that all the enhancements developed to the software were made, keeping in mind the feedback given to them from users across the globe. The centrepoint was to make the work of the artists comfortable, so that they are able to concentrate more on the creativity part, rather than having to get into the technical complexities or doing the extra work while working on animation projects. And those present at the event definitely acknowledged the same!

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