High-quality realistic Gaze Warping. Seamlessly change where the eyes in a hi-res photo are looking. Currently it’s an academic paper and an WebGL demo. I’m guessing: next stop, Photoshop integration? That might mean there would be no need to do a fiddly pose of your 3D character’s eyes, as you could fix the gaze afterwards in Photoshop.
“Ah… what I could do with a faster PC”. How many times have you heard that one? Well, if that’s you then you might interested that there’s a new form of slot-in cache memory from Intel, “Optane memory”. It promises to give Moore’s Law another push and potentially to make media content production work on PCs faster. If you have a Core i3 CPU or higher…
“powering up your PC will be twice as fast; overall system performance will be faster by up to 28%; storage performance will be up to 14 times better; launching of apps will be up to 5 times faster for Google Chrome, up to 6 times faster for MS Outlook, and up to 67% faster for some games.”
“… officially available from 24th April onwards in 16GB and 32GB sizes at $44.00 and $77.00 respectively.”
Intel-based PCs with Optane memory ready-fitted should be shipping-and-affordable around Christmas 2017. But bear in mind that Intel’s cheapest 8-core consumer CPU costs $1,000 just for the chip. So a complete 8-core + Optane system is not likely to be cheap.
Note, however, that Intel are mostly touting start-up times for software, and I’m guessing that the “overall system performance will be faster by up to 28%” may be degraded by other components. But if you already have the correct motherboard slots and the correct CPU, then a mere $44 for 16GB of Optane memory looks like it may offer a very affordable speed boost for artists, even if it’s only an overall system performance boost of perhaps 15% in the end.
The Optane price also compares well with the current price of around £69 (UK) to get, say, an extra 8Gb of branded DDR3-SDRAM 1600 for my AMD-based PC. But that may may not show a great deal of difference in performance either…
“… for most regular work, there is no tangible performance difference between 8GB and 16GB of system memory.”
For the beast-like 3D software Blender, the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation’s…
“test only pushed the entire system usage to 6.1GB”
Vue content makers D&D Creations have a shiny new Web store, and if you sign up to the email newsletter first (and confirm) then you should get a 10% discount coupon code. They also have some nicely-priced sale items at present. I picked up five full scenes with atmospheres, and a cool multi-layer freebie, for a low price…
Note that your purchase download links are delivered by email, and I didn’t see them show up immediately on my account dashboard.
Got Vue 2016? There’s now an R2 update patch for Vue 2016. This weighs in at a 350Mb download, and in the changelog I see that they’ve added 360° VR panoramas and additional viewports, plus a host of fixes for EcoPainter and fixes for various stability and loading niggles. There’s also an R2 patch for Plant Factory.
If you don’t have Vue but want to try it, E-on has just announced the PLE (Personal Learning Edition) and trial versions of Vue 2016 and Plant Factory are now available.
The free 3D software Blender is getting a real-time render engine. Blender’s Eevee engine roadmap has just been published, and the development team are now heading toward presenting a basic demo at…
“Siggraph 2017 [end July], with a more polished usable version by the Blender Conference.”
Oh dear. The cheesy get-a-quickie-website service Wix “has purchased DeviantArt” for $36m. Such a pity the community wasn’t first given a chance to crowd-fund for $40m, since we probably would have reached it too. Wix now…
“intends to improve DeviantArt’s platform”
The Renderosity store has just added a new aspect: the sale of .OBJ and .FBX files via filtered search. Some of the new content looks visibly lower-res and made for games. As such it may be especially of interest to iClone users. But having a .OBJ filter on the search may also be very handy for Vue users, especially those looking for affordable but properly-textured scene props. Presumably the new content types will be tested for basic importability into Poser and DAZ Studio and Vue, before content is let on the store? Generally .FBX can quite often have import problems, in my experience.
Graphics-card maker Nvidia has announced the Quadro GP100, a slot-in card that is specifically geared for those who want to render 3D to a graphics file, rather than display 3D graphics on screen. It has 16GB of HBM2 memory which helps load 3D model and scene textures “significantly faster”, which should reduce rendering times. It’ll need a PCI-Express 3.0 slot on your PC motherboard. No price yet but industry pros are suggesting it will cost 20-30% more than the current-fastest card the P6000 (“$5,000”), which puts it at perhaps $6,500. Far too high for many, but possible for a small professional studio looking for a purchase they can write off against tax. And for amateurs, there’s the comfort that what is $6,500 today is often $1,200 or less in three years time.
And if you happen to also want to create a new cyber-AI, the GP100 also being touted as the ideal card from which to build your own AI and “explore deep learning”.
The Poser 11 SR6 update patch has been released. It’s a big one in terms of the number of changes, though the download weighs in at only 210Mb (access it via the Download Manager). Some highlights from the huge changelog are:
* Performance and stability improvements to just about all areas, including better support for high-end monitors and some tablets.
* Optimized and improved render performance.
* Addressed stability issues associated with rendering in background or separate process.
* FireFly: Enabled toon outlines (Standard version only).
* Updated the included 3rd party Python scripts.
* PoserFusion for LightWave: Experimental support for Lightwave 2016 Beta added.
HitFilm Pro 2017 (version 5) has been released. It’s an affordable video editor and VFX/greenscreen compositor combo, packed with presets for easily applying raygun blasts and suchlike. It’s less costly and somewhat easier to learn-and-use than After Effects + (shudder) Adobe Premiere, and generally seems to be aimed at makers of fan-films, indie films and creatives in small production studios.
Among the new features I spotted in v.5:
* “Go Pro and 360° video support”. So I’m guessing you can seamlessly add their large library of VFX to your 360° VR, and not have them look distorted when seen in the headset viewer?
* “Autodesk FBX format support”.
* “Queue up a number of high quality tasks to export”. So there’s now some form of a Render Queue, so users can do things like render out their footage overnight.
£308 in the UK and (turns on VPN proxy and pretends to be in the USA…) $349 in the USA. Which at current exchange-rates should be £281 in the UK. So presumably they’re adding VAT sales tax, to get the UK price up to that £308 figure. As with most forms of video editing, you’re also going to need a powerful PC and masses of empty hard-disk space.
Bedroom Producers Blog has an excellent short review of what’s new in HitFilm 2017, and concludes with useful tips on how to to use HandBrake to convert your humongous source camera-footage to something that HitFilm’s timeline will work more smoothly with.
Not to be outdone by Adobe’s Project Felix, Microsoft are apparently gearing up to release an even simpler for-dummies 3D tool. Called MS Paint 3D. Yes, the dusty old MS Paint goes 3D. It sounds like some half-cocked April Fools Day joke, but apparently it’s real and is set to ship with the next Windows 10 update.
There’s an interesting new thing from Adobe, aimed at beefing up Photoshop’s presently mediocre 3D capabilities. Adobe is doing a simple for-dummies version of Keyshot, called ‘Project Felix’. It aims to make 3D more accessible for 2D artists to use in 2D pictures. Without having to learn the equivalent of the control interface of a nuclear submarine, as is the case with software such as Blender and many others.
Project Felix is still in “coming soon” mode, with a public beta set for “later in 2016” before eventually shipping with Adobe Creative Cloud sometime in 2017. It looks like it’s aimed at people who are so limited that they couldn’t even handle a half-day basic training session on Keyshot, which is just about the simplest 3D software to use.
Basically it seems to be Keyshot, plus the ability to seamlessly take the render into Photoshop as a layer. The V-ray render doesn’t look very impressive in the video, but it does look fast — so either it’s on an ultra-fast setting, or Adobe have added some special sauce to V-ray, or they’re expecting users to have a couple of ninja graphics cards available.
I wonder if the Keyshot guys will react to this move by Adobe, re: their pricing, ability to interface seamlessly with Photoshop, and maybe even a V-ray hookup? Their $1,000+ pricing, at least, will likely come down.
The other interesting thing will be to see if Adobe will support the transparency alphas in .FBX and .OBJ models exported from DAZ Studio and Poser? Will such exports have blocky square leaves and white ‘slab’ eyelashes, because Felix can’t juggle the transparency mapping correctly?
CrazyTalk Animator 3 has been recently released. It’s a relatively easy and accessible 2D package for animators and also a drawing aid to cartoonists, and is one of Reallusion’s most appealing bits of software. There’s a range of short tutorials on version 3 in the Reallusion YouTube channel. But it’s really difficult to track down a “new features” overview in a ten minute video, and I don’t think there is an official one yet. There are videos for each new feature, though.
In terms of new content enabled by version 3 the cats and dogs are new packs. Breeds are extra purchases, but even the outlines look especially useful for budding animal cartoonists…
Reallusion does have a full online manual which has been updated for V.3 — just type “New for v3” into the search box to see the technical details on what’s new. One of the big changes is that a user can “put bones in anything”, and create “free bone” non-human characters. Animate a book, for instance.
I see that a coming patch for the $299 Pipeline version will allow the creation of 2D rigged characters from Photoshop layered .PSD files. Automated, I’m guessing, from a correctly named template .PSD? That would be interesting, especially as Sketchbook Pro can output .PSD files.
And apparently their real-time animation software iClone 7 is set to ship in December. If it has a Comic Book Mode as good as the one in Poser 11, I’ll be interested.
Software releases are coming thick and fast as we hurtle toward December. Today comes SketchUp 2017. There are some useful-looking advances for the CAD and architectural users, but for artists there are only three main improvements…
* Faster rendering.
* Semi-transparency “renders faster and at higher quality too”.
* Cleaner “snap to” functions when model making.