Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 Posted by Jim Thacker

The Foundry releases public update on Katana

The Foundry has released a public statement about the progress of Katana: Sony Pictures Imageworks’ look development and lighting toolset, which The Foundry is turning into a commercial product.

The announcement doesn’t add much that wasn’t already in the public domain beyond the news that MPC and Digital Domain are using the product in alpha, so is presumably intended to begin building awareness of the product, which it confirms is due for release later this year.

KATANA is an environment for preparing 3D assets for rendering. It allows artists to define and control look and lighting whilst maintaining performance with very large datasets. KATANA operates non-destructively using a rule-based approach, allowing modeling, look development, animation and lighting teams to work in parallel.

Originally developed in house at Sony Pictures Imageworks to handle increasingly complex workflows on productions such as Spider-Man and Superman Returns, the commercial development of KATANA was taken on by The Foundry in November 2009 as part of a unique collaboration between the two companies.

The Foundry’s engineering effort, in consultation with a broad range of users, is ensuring KATANA becomes a flexible product that can ultimately integrate with any pipeline and any renderer in any facility.

These consultations have now developed into much more in-depth collaborations with a number of key sites including MPC and Digital Domain who are now using KATANA in alpha.

“Since inception KATANA has been one of the pillars of the production pipeline here at Imageworks and continues to prove itself on such rigorous productions as G-Force, Watchmen, Alice in Wonderland and animated features such as Monster House, Surf’s Up, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs and The Smurfs.

“We are excited to see KATANA cutting its teeth outside the halls of Imageworks and becoming available for artists and facilities everywhere. The Foundry is a tremendous partner and by broadening the adoption of KATANA and product support, a new generation of artists and productions can benefit from this innovative production-proven technology.”

Rob Bredow, Chief Technology Officer, Sony Pictures Imageworks
“Many brilliant technical innovations come out of production, but historically those breakthroughs remain only within the production company. The Foundry works with digital studios to make those innovations widespread, which benefits the entire industry. I look for KATANA to have a similar impact on the industry that Nuke has achieved.”

Cliff Plumer, Chief Executive Officer, Digital Domain
“Like most large VFX studios, we maintain a complex suite of proprietary software to enable us to render ever increasing complexity, quantity and visual quality. We are excited about KATANA’s potential to offer a solid, flexible, off-the-shelf foundation that we can build upon so that we can focus more of our efforts on what we do best, pushing the boundaries of CG, trusting The Foundry to do what they do best, delivering high quality, scalable software.”

Davie Johnston, Director of Technology, MPC
“As the first commercial dedicated scene development tool, KATANA will enable facilities large and small to build highly scalable lighting pipelines without a large internal engineering effort.”

KATANA is scheduled for commercial release in 2011.