Missed us? We’re back with a full May 2021 News roundup for CG professionals! This is going to be a long one, so strap in everyone. From several major software updates to new Intel laptop releases, the month of May was a busy one for sure.
This section covers news sourced from various trusted media and business outlets.
Insydium Completes Acquisition of Terraform4D
X-Particles developer Insydium has bought promising Cinema 4D terrain-generation plugin Terraform4D. The plugin is a versatile, art-directable terrain generation system for Cinema 4D that users can leverage to create beautiful landscapes. Its creator, former Maxon and Laubwerk developer, Frank Willeke, joins the firm as a senior software developer. The buyout is one of the fastest turnarounds in recent CG software history. Read more.
Pixologic Rolls Out Update to ZBrushCoreMini
ZBrushCoreMini 2021.6.5, the latest update to Pixologic’s free cut-down version of ZBrush, adds support for ZBrush’s Vector Displacement Mesh (VDM) system, making it possible to add complex 3D features – including entire body parts – to a model in a few clicks. The update also adds ‘chisel brushes’ based on the VDM technology: ChiselShapes, ChiselOrganic, and ChiselCreature, which comes pre-loaded with readymade creature parts. Here’s the complete list of changes.
Houdini Sparse GPU Fluid Solver, Axiom, Updated to Build 6
Former ILM FX TD Matt Puchala has updated Axiom, his free GPU-accelerated sparse gaseous fluid solver for Houdini. It’s intended to deliver near-real-time viewport feedback on complex fire and smoke simulations, speeding up look development. The latest update, Build 6, adds a lot of small features like wind noise controls, direction parameters for gravity, and pump and pyramid source shape types. You can find the announcement on their Facebook Group.
Adobe Ships Photoshop 22.4
Adobe has released Photoshop 22.4, the latest update to its image-editing and digital painting software. This update reworks the Neural Filters panel, granting access to a new set of AI-trained image-manipulation filters. The other new feature is Save a Copy, making it possible to save a document as a copy, rather than overwriting the original file. Photoshop now also offers native support for ARM processors when running on Windows 10, which should improve performance on devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro X. Read more.
Mari Extension Pack 5 Gets R6 Release
Mari Extension Pack 5 R6 is now available to users. The update adds a brand-new feature to Mari – Substance Baker Bridge, making it possible to use the high-speed texture baking toolset from Adobe’s Substance tools inside Mari. It provides 15 different bakers, of which 10 are GPU accelerated, for generating geometry-based maps. Read more.
Autodesk Rolls out Public Beta of USD for 3ds Max
Autodesk has released USD for 3ds Max 0.1, the first public beta of its USD integration plugin for the firm’s 3D modeling and rendering software. The plugin enables users to import and export data using the Pixar-developed Universal Scene Description format. While Maya has had its own USD plugin since 2019, 3ds Max didn’t have one until now. The 0.1 release does have a few limitations, including the absence of LuxLight support and limited texture support. Read the release notes here.
Cavalry 1.1 Update is Now Available to Users
Scene Group has released Cavalry 1.1, a major update to its next-gen motion design software since its release last year. Key changes include support for the cross-platform Lottie animation format and support for per-character text formatting. There are also many quality-of-life improvements to Cavalry’s vector design and shape editing tools like closing a curve by dragging one end onto the other. Read more.
Adobe Ships Update to Fresco with Release 2.5
Adobe focused on redesigning the app’s Shape Panel in an update to its digital drawing and painting tool. Fresco now focuses on shapes recorded with Capture, making basic polygonal shapes like circles and polygonal stencils instead. The options to add your own fonts and preserve text formatting when copying and pasting text were also added to the app with this release. Read more.
Ubisoft Unveils Stable Version of Free Open-Source Blender Collaboration Tool – Mixer 1.0
Ubisoft’s in-house collaboration system for Blender was released to the public in August 2020 as a beta. It enabled multiple Blender users to collaborate on the same production scene in real-time. The first official stable release, Mixer 1.0, is now available to download. It adds support for synchronizing updates to Blender Armatures and geometry node trees between the users collaborating on a scene and allowing users to ignore the scene camera during sync. Read more.
BorisFX Ships Silhouette 2021
It’s been a busy month for BorisFX, with yet another major update to one of its popular applications – Silhouette. The rotoscoping and paint tool was updated to version 2021, bringing a host of new features to CG professionals. New features include a Lens Correction node, new roto shape editing tools, the option to add notes to projects for shot reviews, and quality of life improvements to the node graph. That said, the most significant change is the software’s availability as a multi-host plugin for After Effects, Premiere Pro, Nuke, Fusion, DaVinci Resolve, Flame, and Vegas Pro. Read more.
Isotropix Rolls out Clarisse 5.0
In a major update to its layout, lighting, and rendering software, Isotropix announced the release of Clarisse 5.0. The update introduces a new unified architecture for the two software versions –merging the structural improvements developed for the high-performance Clarisse Builder available in Clarisse iFX. Clarisse 5.0 also comes with an updated ray tracing core with advertised speed improvements of ‘up to 1.5x.’ Read more.
Unity Releases ArtEngine 2021.5
ArtEngine, Unity Technologies’ AI-based material-processing software, received an update to version 2021.5. New features include automated masking of visual features in an image and the option to export and share ArtEngine projects with other artists intuitively. Artomatix originally developed ArtEngine before it was acquired by Unity in 2020. Read more.
Otoy Ships First Public Beta of OctaneRender 2021.1 XB1
The first update available only to Windows and Linux devices (since the release for macOS split off into a standalone product called Octane X) of OctaneRender is available in a public beta. Version 2021.1 XB1 comes with both good news and bad news. It brings improved performance to those using Nvidia Ampere GPUs (both gaming and workstation graphics) but drops support for old Kepler cards (Nvidia 600 and 700-series graphics cards). Otoy promises users that Version 2021.1 of OctaneRender will make deformation motion blur and blur on animated instances ‘1.5x faster’ and production scenes using RTX ray tracing will render ‘1-5% faster.’ Read more.
Autodesk Launches 3ds Max Indie and Maya Indie in Latin America
Until January 2021, access to 3ds Max Indie and Maya Indie was limited to only Mexico and Brazil in Latin America. Smaller-scale studios and individual developers based in Latin America can now enjoy the reduced prices offered to others around the globe as long as your revenue is under $50,000 (USD) per year. Find the list of eligible countries for Maya Indie and 3ds Max Indie.
Chaos Vantage 1.3 Now Available to Users
Chaos updated its popular real-time renderer with brand-new features with update 1.3. The renderer now boasts support for V-Ray 2-Sided Material, Nvidia AI denoiser, support for object camera/reflection/refraction and cast/receive shadows properties, and a host of many other User Experience updates and bug fixes. Read more.
Amazon Rolls Out Lumberyard 1.28
Amazon’s game engine and development environment received an update with the latest beta bringing a new Twitch API Gen and streamlining the install process. Although it’s been quite a while since Lumberyard has seen a significant update to its feature-set, Amazon attributed the delays to ongoing work on underlying technologies like the Atom Renderer. Read more.
Intel Unveils 11th Gen Intel Core and Xeon-W CPUs for Laptops
Intel revealed its stack of 11th Generation Intel Core and Xeon-W processors for laptops showcasing double-digit single-core performance gains and better efficiency. In addition to the single-core performance uplift, Intel now also brings 20 PCIe Gen 4.0 lanes, better memory support, and Wi-Fi 6E support to professionals who need to use workstation-class hardware. Read more.
Autodesk Updates Maya Bonus Tools to Support Maya 2022
Autodesk’s free collection of add-on scripts and plugins for Maya gets an update to support Maya 2022. In addition to adding support for the latest version of Maya, Maya Bonus Tools also includes two new tools – real-time Boolean tool Speed Cut and Extrude Instance Mesh. Read more.
Brand-New Features for CG Artists in Unreal Engine 5
Epic Games released Unreal Engine 5 in early access, a much-anticipated next-gen edition of the game engine and real-time rendering system. Unreal Engine 4 (UE5) introduces a range of ‘new disruptive technologies,’ Epic announced during a Livestream. In addition to previously showcased features like the geometry streaming system Nanite and the dynamic Global Illumination system Lumen, the update includes new tools like a full-body IK solver, animation motion warping, improved in-editor character rigging, updates to Chaos physics, and a brand-new intelligent World Partition system. Read more.
Acer Announces Thin and Light High-Performance Laptop – Swift X
Squarely aimed at designers and CG professionals, Acer revealed the calls for a thin and light machine by unveiling the Acer Swift X. The laptop comes equipped with AMD Ryzen 5000 processors and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti to ensure excellent on-the-go performance. Thankfully, the laptop isn’t bogged down by lousy battery life, with Acer advertising a whopping 17 hours on a single charge. Read more.
Nvidia Teases RTX 3080 Ti and 3070 Ti – Set to Release on May 31 Event (10 PM PDT)
While GPU shortages still plague the hardware market, Nvidia is going ahead with two more graphics card releases. The upcoming RTX 3080 Ti and 3070 Ti are supposed to come with ‘Mining Limiters,’ an effort Nvidia says will ensure that the graphics cards aren’t an attractive value for cryptocurrency miners. Whether you’ll be able to find stock of these cards is another story. We’ll bring you more details as and when Nvidia confirms them. Watch the Teaser on Twitter.
Educational Content and Helpful Resources for CG Professionals
This new section features tools, training materials, tutorials, and so on for various CG applications.
[Free Unreal Engine Assets] 85 Meshes from Rural Australia: https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/en-US/product/rural-australia
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Alex & Jerry