Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 Posted by Jim Thacker

Isotropix announces Clarisse iFX

A hybrid of a renderer, compositor and animation editor, new 2D/3D package Clarisse iFX is intended to enable artists to develop complex real-world 3D layouts while interacting continually with the final image.

French developer Isotropix has announced Clarisse iFX: a “new breed of 2D/3D software that reinvents the traditional approach of creating final images”.

A hybrid of a 3D renderer, 2D compositor and animation package, Clarisse iFX is designed to enable artists to develop complex, detail-heavy production scenes while interacting continually with the final image.

The software enables users to work on layouts in context, dragging and dropping geometry, instances and materials while continually seeing the results displayed with final lighting and effects.

The package may be live-linked to other 3D packages in a production pipeline, including ZBrush. Changes made to an asset in another application are automatically propogated to Clarisse iFX.

“Clarisse iFX is the smart and seamless integration of four different kinds of software into a single one that provides a unified workflow,” said company CTO Sebastien Guichou. “Artists can now work freely and simultaneously, without compromise, in any order on each element that participates in their final images.”

Designed for real-world production
The software arose from the Isotropix founders’ own production tools, and has been in development for three years. Regular readers may recall a story we did on the alpha release, back in late 2010.

At its core is a “robust multi-threaded evaluation engine smart enough to avoid unnecessary re-computations when scene parameters are changed”. The engine detects and deletes redundant data to save memory.

The developer claims that the software is capable of handling scenes comprising billions of polygons and gigabytes of textures on standard modern workstations. The built-in renderer is CPU-based, and remains “perfectly smooth and interactive” even on lower-end laptops.

The 20-second animation created in the tutorial movie shown at the top of this page. Clarisse iFX is designed to run smoothly on lower-end hardware: the tutorial was created on a dual-core laptop dating from 2009.

“As a former render TD, I’ve spent [hours] manually optimizing 3D scenes that used too much memory to be rendered. It’s amazing how many painful hours I could have saved if only we were working with Clarisse at the time,” said VFX supervisor Yann Couderc, who recently joined Isotropix.

Playing nicely with other pipeline tools
While Clarisse iFX provides toolsets for layout, instancing, shading and lighting, animation editing, rendering and compositing, it is not intended to generate geometry or rig or animate characters.

The raw assets can be generated in other software and imported via the OBJ or native LightWave file formats, including MDD. There’s no FBX support, but Pixologic’s GoZ and Alembic should be in the retail version.

“We prefer to look ahead [from FBX] and focus on strong Alembic support instead. We deeply believe it is becoming to 3D what OpenEXR is to 2D,” Isotropix CEO Sam Assadian told CG Channel.

The software provides its own fur generator and fur material, but hair dynamics must be imported.

Ultimately, third-party developers will be able to integrate other render engines via Clarisse’s SDK, although the API is still being refined, and the release date for this is only being quoted as “some time this year”.

Pricing to be confirmed
Isotropix has not yet announced pricing for Clarisse iFX, which is intended to be the first release in a larger family of products.

The online FAQs state that the cost will be “no more than high-end 2D or 3D packages”, and that users should expect “three or four-digit prices”, depending on the particular product.

Clarisse iFX runs on standard 64-bit operating systems, including Windows XP SP3, Mac OS X 10.6 and Linux Red Hat/Centos 6 and above. The commercial release is scheduled for some time in June.

Read the official Clarisse iFX news announcement

Visit the Isotropix website