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The Foundry ships Modo 10.0v1

Thursday, April 7th, 2016 | Posted by Jim Thacker

The Foundry has shipped Modo 10.0v1, the first in the Modo 10 series: a set of three linked updates to the 3D modelling, rendering and animation software that “open new doors” for creating content for games and VR.

The 10.0v1 update “delivers a WYSIWYG look-development experience” when authoring content for Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4, and improves workflows for editing vertex normals and generating UDIM textures.

Highlights of the Modo 10 demo videos
The Foundry hasn’t posted any written documentation on the new features on its website: only demo videos. There are also a set of ‘Quick Clip’ videos on YouTube, designed to help users get started with new tools.

Below, we’ve picked out some of the highlights, along with a brief summary of what each new toolset does.

The first few are specific to real-time workflows, so if you don’t work in the games industry, you may want to skip ahead to ‘Enhanced UV and UDIM workflows’ which is where the more general-purpose tools start.

WYSIWYG look-development workflows
As shown in the video at the top of the story, Modo 10 is designed to reduce the disparity between the way assets look inside the viewport and the way they look in-game when exported into engines like Unity or UE4.

Some of the resulting new features will also benefit artists working in other market sectors: for example, the Advanced viewport now supports image-based lighting and material roughness.

However, some are games-specific, like the option to use UE4 and Unity shaders as viewport shaders (above) – which also opens up the possibility of using a metalness shading workflow within Modo.

Another interesting new feature is the ‘Swizzling’ option, which lets users assign different shading effects to individual RGBA texture channels, enabling them to toggle the effects on and off in the viewport.

Users can also export baked textures for an asset “in a single click” for export to the game engine.

Enhanced baking
Baking as whole has received an overhaul, with a new Bake Items option for storing baking parameters for reuse between assets.

Bake Items can be set up through the new Bake Wizard, which provides presets for common baking tasks (diffuse, AO, surface and segment ID, world space and tangent normal, roughness, displacement, and so on).

Different Bake Items can be assigned to different objects within a scene; and individual Bake Items can be used to batch bake multiple outputs.

Bake Items can be previewed in Modo’s preview and RayGL baking modes, enabling users to tweak settings or manipulate cages before committing to a baking operation.

Streamlined export to games engines
The release also introduces new material import scripts for Unity and Unreal Engine which export assets with shading information intact, reducing the need to rebuild shading networks in-engine.

There are FBX export presets for Unity and UE4, with the option to create custom presets for other engines.

Meshes are now automatically triangulated on FBX export, matching Modo’s internal triangulation for GL rendering to ensure that assets look consistent in the viewport and in-engine.

The update also adds support for the DDS texture format commonly used in games.

Real-time content creation workflows
Modo 10 also introduces a new Game Tools layout centred around everyday tasks in real-time workflows.

A series of vertical tabs on the top left of the screen switch between vertex normal editing, texture baking and export options, while tabs at the foot of the screen provide access to modelling, brush and setup tools.

There is also a new FPS mode for navigating scenes using standard game controls, using the mouse to look around and the WASD keys to move the camera, plus the C key to move the camera up.

The feature enables game artists to navigate levels as players will see them in-game – but, as the video above points out, may also have applications in architectural or visual effects workflows.

FBX enhancements
Modo 10 also now supports FBX 2014, with internal presets for exporting assets in FBX 2010 to 2014 formats.

FBX export now preserves information from instances and replicators in a Modo scene for use in game engines like Unity that support instancing.

There are also a number of more general workflow improvements to the export process, including the option to create presets for output directories, and the ability to export UV sets in alphabetical order.

When importing FBX files, animation can be merged onto items in a scene, or applied to actors as actions.

In addition, linear colour correction is now automatically applied to vector maps like normal maps in all loaded clips – something that applies to any file not in Modo’s native LXO format, not just FBX.

Enhanced control of normals
The update also improves vertex normal workflow to control shading smoothness on low-poly assets.

Users can now construct a vertex normal map by manipulating a mesh directly inside Modo, selecting individual edges to be smoothed or unsmoothed. Any component type can be used as an input.

The toolset also “aids in the creation of UVs that correspond to a mesh, with hard normals”.

In addition, Modo now exports tangent basis data suitable for use with normal maps in major game engines, including both Unity and Valve’s Source engine as well as the Mikk T space used in Unreal Engine.

The change minimises the need to use tools like xNormal as a post-export conversion step for game assets.

Enhanced UV and UDIM workflows
Although most of the new functionality in Modo 10 is games-related, there are a few toolsets that will appeal to artists in other market sectors: notably the way Modo handles the UDIM UV space used in tools like Mari.

As well as introducing a new wizard for creating UDIM image sets, UDIM textures can now be baked like any other texture, and appear in the shader tree as a single image.

In addition, UVs can now be exported in the SVG vector graphics format, including the option to export individual UDIM tiles either spread out, or on separate layers.

Additionally, the Advanced viewport can now display an unlimited number of UV sets, reducing differences in the way assets appear in the viewport and in final-quality renders during look development.

New tools for non-games artists
There are also a number of other smaller changes to Modo’s non-games-specific toolsets.

Users now get a choice of blend modes when painting vertex maps, as well as the ability to mask vertex colors by color channel and by polygon selection, and a new option to view each channel in isolation.

There is also a new Volume Preservation option for the Smooth tool, designed to preserve the curvature of surfaces better when smoothing compound meshes.

Other changes include the option to apply colour profiles to old LXO scenes created before OpenColorIO was implemented in Modo, and a number of enhancements to the colour picker.

The Foundry has also posted a new video on Modo’s camera-matching and digital matte painting tools – although, as far as we can see, it’s just a recap of the ones added in Modo 902 last year.

And while The Foundry hasn’t released details of Modo 10.1 and 10.2, posts from President of the Americas Brad Peebler on its forum hint that these upcoming updates will have more to appeal to non-games artists.

Pricing and availability
Modo 10.0v1 is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Both individual and floating licences cost $1,799.

Anyone buying Modo 10.0v1 will also get Modo 10.1 and Modo 10.2 for free. According to product marketing manager Shane Griffith, the updates are currently expected to ship in Q2 and Q4 this year.

Visit the Modo 10 product website

Watch more Quick Clip videos about the new tools in Modo 10 in The Foundry’s YouTube channel

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