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Foundry releases Katana 3.2

Thursday, August 29th, 2019 | Posted by Jim Thacker

 
Posted on 5 June 2018. Scroll down for news of the Katana 3.2 update.

Foundry has released Katana 3.0, a major update to its look dev and lighting tool, bundling in a new plugin version of the 3Delight renderer, and introducing a new viewport based on Pixar’s USD Hydra technology.

Performance has also been significantly improved: as well as the speed boost resulting from the new viewport architecture, Foundry claims that Katana 3.0 “loads files 1.5x faster” than previous versions.

New, faster viewport based on Pixar’s Hydra architecture
The headline feature in the update is the new viewport, which is based on Pixar’s Hydra technology.

Hydra, Pixar’s OpenSubdiv-based real-time rendering architecture, is used in Pixar’s own in-house tools, and forms part of its open-source Universal Scene Description (USD) technology.

The major benefit of the change is raw performance, particularly when working with large scenes: Foundry claims that the new viewport is “7x to 10x faster” than its predecessor.

However, there are also a few other design changes, including “a set of artist-friendly transform handles [and] a rich API for creating custom object drawing and manipulators”.

Comes bundles with the new 3Delight for Katana plugin
Katana 3.0 also now comes bundled with a new plugin version of the 3Delight renderer, previously used in production on a range of big visual effects movies and animated features.

We discussed the integration when Foundry previewed it at NAB, so check our original story for details.

Foundry also now has a dedicated webpage summarising 3Delight for Katana’s major features, including its new Nodal Scene Interface (NSI).

As well as a powerful real-time preview and live light mixing system, the renderer offers “robust” OSL support, and support for key pipeline technologies, including Cryptomatte, XGen and Yeti.

Workflow and performance improvements
Other improvements include a revamped UI, intended to let artists “get more information … at a glance”.

The changes are quite specific, but there’s a list here, and before-and-after image on Foundry’s website.

General performance has also been improved, over and above the new Hydra viewport, with files now opening “1.5x faster than previous versions”, and the rest of the program improved by “similar amounts”.

 

 
Updated 29 November 2018: Foundry has released Katana 3.1.

The update makes Katana the lastest Foundry application to support the VFX Reference Platform, intended to provide an industry-wide standard for shared code libraries.

In Katana 3.1’s case, that means the 2017 version of the spec, although one significant change is a move to the Qt5 UI library.

The update also further improves Katana’s Alembic library and 3D scene processing, “drastically reducing time to first pixel for multi-threaded renderer plugins”.

The Hydra Viewer gets a number of usability improvements, including hotkeys for common tasks, and can now display object annotations.

The 3Delight rendering plugin has also had several updates since Katana 3.0 was released, including a new Principled Shader based on the industry-standard Disney principled shading model.

Other key changes include a new AOV based on Animal Logic’s work on prelit materials, “super fast” multiple scattering in the Volume shader, and automatic texture conversion to mipmaps.

 

 
Updated 29 August 2019: Foundry has released Katana 3.2.

The update revamps the software’s material node graph, with the new Network Material Create Node introducing a more conventional left-to-right workflow, plus a range of other standard UX features.

Those include the option to collapse nodes to save screen space, add dot or switch nodes to control the layout of connections, and set up custom coloured backdrops to identify regions of the graph visually.

Users can also group parts of a material node network into Shading Group nodes, making it possible to set up nested networks.

Foundry tells us that it hopes to roll out similar workflows in the wider node graph in future.

The Hydra viewer has been updated to USD 19.05, and now supports multiple render delegates.

The system, discussed in this Foundry blog post, is intended to enable users to plug multiple third-party renderers into the Katana viewport, in place of the old “RenderMan-centric” approach.

Support for multi-cam rendering, random walk SSS and better hair shading in 3Delight
The bundled version of 3Delight gets a new workflow for rendering multiple camera views simultaneously, intended to enable artists to check assets from different angles during look development.

Rendering the extra views is said to carry “little” additional computational overhead.

Other new features in 3Delight include support for random walk subsurface scattering, the option to use displacement maps directly with the Principled shader, and improvements to hair and fur shading.

The renderer is also now multithreaded by default, improving scene export times “between 30% to 400%”.

Pricing and availability
Katana 3.2 is available for Windows 7 and CentOS/RHEL 6 Linux. The price of an interactive licence has risen by $440 since the release of Katana 3.1, to $9,008.

Render nodes used to cost $497, while 3Delight for Katana came in a bundle with a render node, priced at $1,000. The new prices aren’t listed on Foundry’s website, but we’ve contacted the firm for details.

 
Read an overview of the new features in Katana on Foundry’s product website

Read a full list of new features in Katana 3.0 in the release notes

Read a full list of new features in Katana 3.1 in the release notes

Read a full list of new features in Katana 3.2 in the release notes

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