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Thinkbox Software ships XMesh MY

Monday, December 9th, 2013 | Posted by Jim Thacker

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XMesh MX for 3ds Max in action. Thinkbox Software has just released XMesh MY, a new Maya version of the geometry caching plugin. The tool should be of particular use at studios running mixed Max/Maya pipelines.

Thinkbox Software has released XMesh MY, the new Maya version of its geometry caching plugin, originally released for 3ds Max. Announced at Siggraph, the tool should help studios running mixed Max/Maya pipelines.

As well as storing animated scene geometry in a condensed format, the software can transfer smoothing groups and materials assignments between 3ds Max and Maya, and comes with bonus tools to transfer shader definitions.

The news release below focuses mainly on the benefits of using XMesh MY in Maya alone, and user testimonials; the original announcement more on specific technical features, so take your pick.

Pricing and system requirements
XMesh MY is compatible with Maya 2011 and above running on 64-bit Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. A single licence costs $495, including a free slave licence that can be used interchangeably in Maya or 3ds Max.

A free XMesh Loader plugin enables non-XMesh users to view and render data saved using the software.

PRESS RELEASE (Excerpts)
Thinkbox Software today announced the release of XMesh MY, a geometry caching plug-in for Autodesk® Maya®. Designed to streamline animation and visual effects production pipelines, XMesh is a set of tools for saving animated scene geometry in a condensed format that yields smaller files for faster loading, manipulation and sharing across facilities and applications. Also compatible with Autodesk® 3ds Max®, the robust and scalable multi-threaded solution allows artists to quickly open, share or receive computer generated (CG) assets from internal studio departments or external facilities.

“XMesh is the backbone of the interchange pipeline between 3ds Max and Maya at ScanlineVFX. It is fast, solid and the open structure allows the seamless integration into our pipeline,” said Christian Deiss, PipelineTD, ScanlineVFX.

Key features of XMesh include:

  • Accelerated Loading
    By saving multiple animated meshes as a single entity, XMesh loads files orders of magnitude faster.
  • Minimized Disk Space Usage
    For each frame, XMesh saves multiple files – an XML header file referencing data channels and a compressed binary file per channel for optimizing disk space usage. Furthermore, unchanging channel data is saved once and can be referenced by later frames without duplication.
  • Enhanced Multi-Core Performance
    Each data channel is saved and loaded in a separate thread to provide advanced performance on multi-core machines.
  • Parallel Saving
    By allowing the same animated sequence to be saved on multiple network nodes, XMesh enables heavy scenes to be cached orders of magnitude faster.
  • Quick Playback
    With support for optional alternative mesh representation in the viewport, XMesh can play back files even faster via a low-resolution proxy file sequence. Viewport display modes that read only a fraction of data from disk – including bounding box, vertex cloud with percentage option and percentage of faces – further boost performance.
  • Easy Information Transfer
    XMesh preserves per-face material assignment information and supports the conversion of Maya edge smoothing information into 3ds Max smoothing groups and vice-versa, which provides an alternative to storing explicit normals.

“You can’t put a price on something that makes life much easier,” noted Will Wallace, Senior FX Artist, Hydraulx. “XMesh made things easy and did it right. We were able to bring objects in and out between packages with no worries. What XMesh can cache is mind blowing.”

“I used XMesh on the ‘Hellraiser: Origins’ teaser recently, and loved it,” added Joël LeLièvre, CG Generalist/FX Artist, Delicate Machines. “It offered a robust, yet controllable approach to creating hundreds of digital extras in 3ds Max that would not have been possible without it. XMesh provided a caching system that allowed me to create over 600 animated characters in a matter of hours. XMesh is a beast!”

XMesh MY supports Linux, OSX and Windows 64-bit operating systems and works with versions of Maya from 2011 through Maya 2014. Independent of the XMesh saver, the XMesh loader allows for free viewing and rendering of data. The XMesh saver license can be applied interchangeably to either Maya or 3ds Max. A version of the XMesh loader for The Foundry’s NUKE is currently in Beta.

Read more about XMesh on Thinkbox’s website

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