Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Autodesk Softimage 2011: Advanced Character Animation

Automated Lip Sync in Face Robot and Innovative Rigs with Interactive Creative Environment (ICE) Kinematics Set New Bar for Character Animation

"Softimage provides a flexible, high-speed and efficient solution to help create stunning and complex character animation and procedural effects. Technical directors, visual effects artists and computer graphics supervisors are cheering the unique combination of innovative rigging tools, particle, dynamics and rendering openness," said Stig Gruman, Autodesk vice president of digital entertainment. "Softimage is a great addition to Maya or 3ds Max pipelines helping to expand creative capability and increase productivity."
Key New Features in Autodesk Softimage 2011 Software
-- Rendering Sandbox -- Automatically hosts external shaders and renderers without the need to build a custom shader user interface (UI) or other tools.
-- ICE Kinematics -- Aids creation of advanced rigging elements with custom inverse kinematics, spines, constraints and dynamics tails. The visual graph-based structure of ICE helps remove trial and error and enables easier examination of rig construction, facilitating troubleshooting and rig debugging.
-- Automated Lip-Synching in Face Robot -- Allows for quicker generation of facial animation based on an audio file. Features a new dedicated view for controlling the visemes and phonemes with function curves to help modify their contribution.
-- Rendering Enhancements -- The new mental ray 2011 renderer offers increased stability and faster renders. Up to one hundred new mental ray shaders enable easier simulation of a wider range of materials. Helps save time rendering multiple cameras for each pass, and the new Camera and Render Slate functionality shows useful information in the viewport or renders.
-- 100 New ICE Compounds -- Provides predefined compounds covering several areas: Kinematics, Arrays, Curves, Debugging, Deformation Effects, Hull Deformers, Skinning, Verlet Integration, Geometry Queries, Math, Particle Emissions, Particle Getters and Setters, Testers, Strands and Strand Dynamics.
-- PhysX 2.83 -- Helps artists create meshless deformations in ICE with the latest NVIDIA PhysX rigid body library. Provides new support for springs and dampers. New library also offers accelerated performance when using the optional addition of an NVIDIA CUDA enabled graphics processing unit (GPU).
Beta Tester Testimonials
"ICE has a great user interface and gives great flexibility to artists, helping us save time in production. We're looking forward to using the new ICE kinematics to create ever more complex and dynamic rigs."
-- Aloys Baillet, Research and Development Lead, Animal Logic
"ICE kinematics will change the way the industry does rigging, it just doesn't know it yet! Rig complexity will be reduced to the simplest representation, bones won't be needed at all and rigging that was simply impossible for technical directors to attempt before is now possible." -- Eric Thivierge, Technical Director, SpeakeasyFX
"Rigging using ICE is going to change everything. Not only did character technical directors just get access to scene information at a much deeper level, but they got it within a framework that allows logic structures and programming far beyond anything possible using existing tools for constraints, expressions and relations."
-- Bradley Gabe, Senior Technical Animator, Janimation
"This is hands down the most powerful rigging framework on the planet. When I look at traditional rigs now, they just feel so awkward and clumsy." -- Phil Taylor, Independent Contractor, Motion Mechanic
From March 11--13, 2010, visit the Virtual GDC event on the AREA community site to watch new Softimage 2011 product demonstrations and customer presentations live from the Autodesk Game Developers Conference booth. More information is also available on Mark Schoennagel's Planet Softimage AREA blog.

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