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Fabric Software, MPC unveil Fabric for RenderMan

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015 | Posted by Jim Thacker

Fabric Software has announced Fabric for RenderMan, an extension to its Fabric Engine tools development framework that integrates it into Pixar’s production renderer. The integration was initially developed at MPC.

In addition, Fabric has posted new videos both of Kraken, the upcoming open-source rigging toolset for Fabric Engine being developed by Hybride, and of Fabric Engine 2, the next release of the framework itself.

Fabric Engine: a primer
First released in 2012, Fabric Engine is designed to help studios develop graphics tools designed to cope with the heavy production data sets common in visual effects, animation and game development.

Its execution engine takes care of tasks like multithreading and GPU computing automatically, opening up tools development to technical artists as well as specialist programmers.

Access RenderMan natively from within Fabric Engine
The news of Fabric for RenderMan further extends the framework’s integration with DCC tools, currently comprising Maya and Softimage, with upcoming plugins for 3ds Max, Modo, Houdini, C4D and Unreal Engine.

Originally developed in-house at MPC, the plugin provides full binding to the RenderMan Interface and Ric API giving users access to these functions natively in Fabric for tasks such as lighting and shader authoring.

Artists can access the renderer using either Fabric Engine’s native KL language or the new Canvas visual programming system being rolled out in version 2 of the framework.

The video above, recorded by MPC global head of visual effects operations Damien Fagnou, shows both methods in action. You can also watch a more detailed 25-minute presentation on Fabric’s website.

According to Fagnou: “We can now quickly create tools in Fabric that interact with RIS live rendering [in RenderMan], giving artists near instantaneous results that allow them to iterate more freely.

“On top of this, the ability to interact with RenderMan directly from Canvas … is opening the door to really interesting workflows that were not possible before.”

Kraken: an open-source rigging framework for Fabric Engine
Fabric Software has also posted more details of another important collaboration with a facility using Fabric Engine in production, in the shape of three new demo videos for Kraken.

The open-source rigging system, developed in-house at Hybride, was demoed at Siggraph 2014, and is due for release around the same time this year.

Kraken provides a node-based interface with which technical artists can construct character rigs. Plugins for applications like Maya then assemble the rigs automatically within DCC software.

On its blog, Fabric praised the dev team, noting: “All of our customers buy into the notion that all Fabric users benefit if studios share certain aspects of their own development. Hybride led the way [with] Kraken.”

In addition, Fabric Software has posted several new videos of Fabric Engine 2 itself on its Vimeo channel.

Many will be familiar to anyone who has been following Fabric’s previous announcements, but there is a nice overview of the software, and of the new Canvas visual-programming toolset.

In addition, the video above shows off Fabric’s upcoming SceneHub technology, which enables users to work with datasets too large to fit in memory by selectively loading in key subsets of the data.

Pricing and availability
Fabric for RenderMan will be available to Fabric Engine 2 beta testers later in July. You can request beta access via the company’s website. Fabric Engine 2 itself should also be in open beta by the end of July.

Kraken will be released “around Siggraph 2015” in August.

Read more about Fabric for RenderMan on Fabric Software’s website

Read more about Kraken on Fabric Software’s website

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