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CGI coffee

All about VFX and CGI software (and more).


New Unity 2019 2D sprite rigging and lighting tools

With the latest 2019.1 update Unity team have seriously upgraded the 2D tool-set of the editor:

Seems like a lot of those tools were inspired by the Rayman Legends engine. Something I was drooling over 5 years ago, hoping one day Unity would implement some of those. And they finally did!

It really makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, remembering how most of those automated 2D tools and thingies were not available when I was working on Run and Rock-it Kristie in the freeware version of Unity 4 (which back then lacked even the Sprite packaging functionality!) and had to be either developed from scratch or achieved with some cool Asset Store stuff you would need to purchase and integrate into your product.

memories

Oh, the tools... The tools...

IK and rigging with bone weighting? Check:

Manual sprite atlasing and set-up? Check (atlasing is vital for mesh batching and draw call reduction):

manual-atlasing

Sprite assembly and animation? Check:

Dynamic level-building tools? Check (via modded version of the Ferr2D asset):

Dynamic lighting? Check! — With up to 4 live vertex lights and camera-distance based light culling to make sure the game would run at stable 60 fps on iPhone 4 (heavily reliant on the amazing but now deprecated Core Framework asset by echoLogin):

It was... Fun!

You know what I also remember? I remember almost every day working on the game I felt excited and driven. It was FUN. Even when it was challenging to solve some technical issues (there were a lot of those, especially for a beginner) or work around Unity limitations or bugs, it felt truly rewarding and would give such a powerful motivation boost that I would continue working until the end.

Until the release.

manual-atlasing

But the "serious" CG movie stuff I'm doing now?.. Honestly? Meh. It's so slow and clunky compared to my previous game development experience. Everything needs to be either cached, or rendered... I'm also having some grave issues with hair simulation which I wasn't able to overcome for the last 6+ months, many operations in the "classic" world of 3D editors are still either single-threaded, unstable, or require some very specific knowledge or particular and elaborate set-up... It's almost no fun! No fun means much, much less motivation to continue.

It's a problem.

manual-atlasing

Therefore this July I will instead be checking out the latest Unity Engine and see whether most of what I'm doing right now could be ported into Unity. Starting with simulation and scene assembly and hopefully — ending up animating, rendering and applying post effects right within the Unity Editor where everything is real-time and fun! I miss the real-time aspect! Oh boy, do I miss the ability to tweak materials and see the more or less finalized render of the scene even during assembly. The ability to import assets and build "smart" prefabs (like Softimage Models, but with interactivity and intrinsic scene-aware scripting via MonoBehavior) e.t.c...

I miss you, Unity!

Reality check. What is NVIDIA RTX Technology? What is DirectX DXR? Here's what they can and cannot do

NVIDIA and its partners, as well as AAA-developers and game engine gurus like Epic Games, keep throwing their impressive demos at us at an accelerating rate.

These feature the recently announced real-time ray tracing tool-set of Microsoft DirectX 12 as well as the (claimed) performance benefits proposed by NVIDIA's proprietary RTX technology available in their Volta GPU lineup, which in theory should give the developers new tools for achieving never before seen realism in games and real-time visual applications.

There's a demo by the Epic team I found particularly impressive:

Looking at these beautiful images one can expect NVIDIA RTX and DirectX DXR to do more than they are actually capable of. Some might even think that the time has come when we can ray trace the whole scene in real-time and say good bye to the good old rasterization.

There's an excellent article available at PC Perspective you should definitely check out if you're interested in the current state of the technology and the relationship between Microsoft DirectX Raytracing and NVIDIA RTX, which without any explanation can be quite confusing, seeing how NVIDIA heavily focuses on the native hardware-accelerated tech which RTX is, whist Microsoft stresses out that DirecX DXR is an extension of an existing DX tool-set and compatible with all of the future certified DX12-capable graphics cards (since the world of computer graphics doesn't revolve solely around NVIDIA and its products, you know).

So here I am to quickly summarize what RTX and DXR are really capable of at the moment of writing and what they are good (and not so good) for.

Navie Effex Dynamics And Simulation Framework For Cinema4D Now Free

While the year 2018 may have started with a large meltdown for the rest of the world, we, the 3D folk are still getting some great news following my previous blog post. This time it's Effex by Navie (formerly DPit Nature Spirit) - a fast and robust Particles & Fluid Simulation framework for C4D which went free recently. Effex comes with lots of goodies including an excellent FLIP solver I think I'm in love with.

It can do lots of stuff. See for yourselves:

Anyway, just grab a copy from GitHub.

Although the fact that such great products go free makes me uneasy for some reason. Can't stop thinking about the developers. Hopefully they are ok and not doing this due to problems selling the product...

Mootzoid Plugins for Softimage, C4D, Maya and Modo Now Available For Free!

What an amazing NY2017 present from Mootzoid for all of Softimage/XSI zealots out there (and for Maya/C4D/Modo guys to some extent as well)!

Quoting Eric: "For the upcoming holidays I wanted to let you know that as of today all my plugins are available for free on my website www.mootzoid.com. Just download any plugin and you're ready to go without any license hassle and without making your wallet unhappy :)"

Mootzoid plugins

Plugins are available at Eric's website, as usual.

Can't wait to get my hands on the full versions of emFluid and emPolygonizer!

BTW, you know what makes Eric's plugins so special? Just a couple examples:

  • They add complete OpenVDB support (read/write) inside Softimage! You can simulate fire and smoke whilst exporting frames to .VDB whilst having Redshift for example picking those frames to render. It's fast and it's reliable.
  • emPolygonizer provides a powerful multithreaded mesher to use with any object, be it particles or just a bunch of meshes. I used a while ago to mesh hundreds of thousands of particles in my FleX Fluid Simulation studies and was thoroughly impressed. It is so, so much more powerful than XSI's native polygonizer.

Thank you, Eric!

Official Apology To Pixologic ZBrush

I'm sorry ZBrush. Sorry I doubted your UI. Sorry for thinking your navigation was unbearable. Sorry for everything, really.

I love you, ZBrush.

From now on you're family.

My first good-looking zbrush sculpt

Thank you, Pixologic. You got yourself a new customer and he couldn't be happier.

NVIDIA PhysX FleX now compatible with the majority of modern graphics cards

In case you missed the announcement, here's some truly great news:

"To better serve the game development community we now offer Direct3D 11/12 implementations of the Flex solver in addition to our existing CUDA solver. This allows Flex to run across vendors on all D3D11 class GPUs. Direct3D gives great performance across a wide range of devices and supports the full Flex feature set."

Yes! FleX is now not a CUDA-only physics library! NVIDIA devs have also utilized Async Compute to make it as efficient as possible with D3D.

Check out the GDC talk.

FleX D3D GDC talk

Hopefully we'll start seeing more FleX in the upcoming AAA-titles (or maybe even indie ones?.. Who knows!)

Redshift presentation at SIGGRAPH 2016

Just an FYI for those who missed Redshift team's SIGGRAPH 2016 presentation.

Great stuff, guys. Go Redshift!

What did you render with Redshift today?