Thursday, April 28th, 2011 Posted by Jim Thacker

Golaem to release new high-end crowd simulator

French start-up Golaem has released details of its new high-end crowd-simulation software, Golaem Crowd.

Intended as a simpler alternative to tools such as Massive for high-end VFX work, the package will make its public debut at fmx next week.

According to the developer, Golaem Crowd enables artists to use native Maya toolsets – primarily particles and fields – to control crowd behaviour, rather than having to set up AI ‘brains’ for individual agents.

The package exports to REYES renderers via a plug-in, and can also output RenderMan RIB or FBX files.

According to the company website, the 64-bit version of the software is capable of controlling millions of characters at a time; and has been tested in production by animation house Mikros Image.

No pricing information has been announced, and we haven’t been able to find a demo video, so it’s hard to gauge yet how well the system works in practice. More details when we have them.

For the first time, Golaem will showcase Golaem Crowd, its brand new product for easily creating crowds within Autodesk® Maya® at FMX, Stuttgart.

  • Tired of losing money by refusing projects involving crowd shots?
  • Tired of devoting too many artists to create animations and behaviors for daunting shots?
  • Tired of needing experts to deal with complicated software or homemade tools?

Developed and tested under real production conditions with the award-winning VFX company Mikros Image, Golaem Crowd allows to easily simulate complex and controllable characters in Autodesk® Maya®.

Golaem Crowd is strongly integrated with one of the most powerful 3D animation software [packages], Autodesk Maya. It offers an intuitive interface based on Maya workaday objects (particles, fields [and so on]).

Golaem Crowd enables [artists] to save production time eliminating switching and tweaking between software applications, as well as being usable by an artist trained within one day.

Resulting from years of academic research on virtual humans, Golaem Crowd enables to streamline digital content creation, allowing [artists] to:

  • Reuse existing motion choreographies on any ground and any character
  • Replace cumbersome fluid fields with pathfinding and collision avoidance algorithms
  • Easily add variety to crowds taking full advantage of individual character behaviors

Last but not least, Golaem Crowd respects the standard animation workflow and allows to incrementally build a scene. Artists proceed step by step, getting director’s validation at each stage:

Per production
1. Asset definition
a. Asset Import: scene, characters, accessories, motions
b. Population Description: Associate a character class with geometry, motions and behaviors (e.g. Gauls and Romans)

Per shot
2. Placement: a powerful tool to quickly generate characters in reachable areas of the scene (e.g. it is possible to place an army in a field avoiding trees and rocks)

3. Navigation: characters are represented by particles in Maya. It is then possible to use Maya tools to move them, but we also propose navigation algorithms (including automatic obstacles and characters avoidance).

4. Animation: the animation engine included within Golaem Crowd enables [users] to replay previously created motion, even on characters of different morphologies. Golaem Crowd can adapt motions to the ground and automatically compute transitions between motions, for both bipeds andquadrupeds.

5. Behaviors: Animations can be triggered and blended by defining associated behaviors with start/stop trigger conditions.

6. Export and rendering
a. Golaem Crowd proposes a plugin for REYES render engines (Pixar, RenderMan, 3Delight, AIR, Guerilla Render)
b. Other formats are available: Autodesk FBX, Renderman RIB, and Google Protobuf

Read a full feature list for Golaem Crowd (includes pipeline flowchart)