The Foundry offers new versions, more workflows
COW Library : NAB Show : Debra Kaufman : The Foundry offers new versions, more workflows
The Foundry has a storied history of providing powerful tools in compact packages especially prized by visual effects cognoscenti. At NAB 2011, the U.K.-based company did issue new releases of STORM, NUKE, NUKEX and MARI. But they also had something completely new to show or, rather, preview: KATANA, a look development and lighting technology tool originally developed at Sony Pictures Imageworks and due for release later in the year.
MARI was previewed at last year's NAB and then released in July 2010. One year later, MARI, a 3D texture and projection painting tool, has found a home at Digital Domain, Framestore, Animal Logic and Double Negative. Since its summer 2010 release, MARI has had two releases, making the NAB 2011 preview version 1.3. The latest version, thanks to a technology sharing agreement with Walt Disney Studios, now offers a UV-less texturing workflow with the addition of PTex support. Also new is displacement preview via dynamic mesh tessellation, tiled textures with masking, snapshots and environment mapping. At the show, The Foundry also demonstrated how MARI can be used in conjunction with NUKE to deal with stretching, seaming and occlusion that can occur during environment creation and texture projection.
NUKE version 6.3 was also previewed; the new version is aimed at reducing the need to leave NUKE for external applications. The new version introduces a new Deep Compositing pipeline so artists can work with deep data from 3D renders. Other features include new Spline and Grip Warpers, 3D particles, a Planar Tracker, new Denoise and audio scratch track. Also demonstrated on the show floor was NUKE with OCULA, which was used on Tron: Legacy.
Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund in TRON: Legacy, Courtesy Walt Disney Pictures
Launched in March, just before NAB 2011, STORM provides "a consistent and reliable way to review, organize, prepare, edit, conform, grade and deliver" RED Digital Cinema camera media on a laptop or workstation on or near-set. The software is currently available for Mac OS X and supports the RED ROCKET card. Version 1.1 is expected to debut this summer, and will offer support to DSLR cameras, QuickTime and ARRI media, Avid editorial integration and support for Windows.
The Foundry is now part of the Avid and Arri partner programs, and STORM now supports both Avid 'Artist Color' and Tangent 'Wave' color panels.
Lastly, The Foundry previewed its new look development and lighting technology, KATANA, which allows artists to define and control look and lighting while maintaining performance with very large datasets. Using a rule-based approach, KATANA operates non-destructively and allows modeling, look development, animation and lighting teams to work in parallel.
KATANA's graphical user interface is designed to have many of the common features that will be familiar to users of 3D applications. These include a timeline, a hierarchical scenegraph view, an OpenGL viewer to give a fast interactive view of 3D assets, and a 2D monitor to view the output from renders in a color managed viewport.
KATANA uses a node based approach to build the recipe for each render output, in a manner that is in many ways similar to node based compositing systems such as NUKE, but using the nodes to create the recipe for 3D scenegraph processing instead of 2D image manipulation. Nodes can also be used to specify custom Python scripts that can create new attributes and modify existing ones. For more information, see the Katana whitepaper at The Foundry
The Foundry took on commercial development of KATANA in November 2009, from Sony Pictures Imageworks, which developed it in-house to handle the very complex workflows on Spiderman and Superman Returns. The Foundry's engineering--which includes collaboration with key sites including Digital Domain and MPC--is intended to make KATANA able to integrate with any pipeline and any renderer in any facility. For more information, The Foundry makes its KATANA white paper available.
Tron Legacy 3D trailer. OCULA was used extensively by Digital Domain on Tron: Legacy. Courtesy Walt Disney Pictures.