Autodesk is to expand Softimage’s ICE visual programming environment to cover procedural modelling and cloth simulation in the next release of the software.
Softimage 2012, due to ship next month, incorporates new ICE attributes for “non-destructive, rule-based geometry creation” and populating scenes with objects; and support for ICE-based workflow with Syflex cloth.
Autodesk describes the new toolsets as “as easy [to use] as picking up a paintbrush”: something you can judge for yourselves from the demo videos available on Mark Schoennagel’s Planet Softimage blog.
All about effects?
With Softimage now described in Autodesk marketing materials as “animation and visual effects software”, and effectively positioned as an FX add-on within the company’s Entertainment Creation product suites, it is perhaps no surprise that the other major feature of the 2012 release is also effects-related.
Thiago Costa’s powerful Lagoa Multiphysics solver, previously only available to Subscription customers, enables users to simulate a wide range of natural materials from particulates to viscoelastic fluids.
Softimage 2012 also features a range of small performance enhancements designed to speed up day-to day workflow: the “things you do ten times an hour,” in the words of Senior Product Marketing Manager Rob Hoffman; improved stereoscopic capabilities – although, so far, there is little information as to what these consist of; and a “huge update to the SDK – especially the interactive tool SDK”.
The pricing of the software remains unchanged at $2,995. More details below.
PRESS RELEASE (Excerpts)
Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) announced the release of Autodesk Softimage 2012, the latest version of the company’s powerful node-based 3D character animation and visual effects software. The new release features major upgrades: new procedural ICE modeling, integrated Syflex cloth simulation, increased stereoscopic capabilities and multiple improvements to the viewport display. Softimage 2012 also offers improved interoperability with other Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite Premium 2012 products, enabling easier integration into production pipelines for demanding television, games and movie projects.
“The loyal and growing Softimage user base will be thrilled with Softimage 2012. In addition to established recent favorite features such as Face Robot and Lagoa Multiphysics, the new version reflects the continued expansion of ICE, as well as the next-generation GigaCore 3D engine. This release will definitely be cause for some major excitement,” said Marc Petit, senior vice president, Autodesk Media & Entertainment.
“Softimage ICE gave us the bandwidth to include a lot of effects and magic, allowing us to deliver a level of quality that exceeded initial expectations. After building our ICE trees and toolsets we were able to easily customize and add effects to shots in an extremely labor-efficient ways,” said Scott Stewart, executive director of SpeakeasyFX 3D animation studio.
Key New Features in Autodesk Softimage 2012 Software
- ICE Modeling
Nondestructive geometry creation, based on rules, conditions and parameters that facilitate topology operation creation, particle meshing, custom primitives and geometry fracturing while preserving UV attributes.
- Improved User Experience
Wide range of small-scale enhancements to day-to-day workflows: Explorer, Schematic View, Scene Layer Manager, Render Tree, Bone Primitive, Reference Models and the Weight Editor.
- Syflex on ICE
More flexible node-based workflow of ICE enables artists to use Syflex cloth to create and edit highly realistic cloth effects.
- Lagoa Multiphysics
This simulation framework helps artists create realistic simulations of the dynamic behavior of liquids, cloth, foam, plastic and soft body collisions, as well as incompressible fluids, inelastic, elastic and plastic deformations.
- Enhanced Interoperability
Single-step interoperability with the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite Premium 2012 products (Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Mudbox), an extended software development kit (SDK), added support for Maya nCache format and Autodesk FBX asset exchange format.
- ICE FX Builder
New module menu toolbar automatically connects compounds and nodes, enabling simple modification and extension of effects using the standard editing workflow.
Pricing and Availability
Autodesk anticipates that Softimage 2012 will be available in English and Japanese in April 2011. The Autodesk suggested retail price (MSRP) for an Autodesk Softimage 2012 stand-alone license is US$2,995*. The price to upgrade from Softimage 2011 to Softimage 2012 will be $1,495* MSRP.
Autodesk Subscription with Gold Support will be available for purchase simultaneously with the product or upgrade purchase for $795* MSRP per year.
Autodesk Softimage 2012 is also anticipated to be available as part of the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite Premium 2012 which will offer Softimage together with either Maya or 3ds Max and Mudbox and Autodesk MotionBuilder 2012 software for $6,495* MSRP, representing a 42 percent* cost savings compared to purchasing the software separately.
*International pricing and savings may vary.
Read a full list of new features in Softimage 2012 (foot of page)