Wednesday, January 30th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Fabric Engine unveils Flora for Maya and Softimage

Fabric Engine has unveiled Flora: a new high-performance vegetation-generation system for Maya, Softimage and SolidAngle’s Arnold renderer.

Flora has been created as a module for the Creation platform, Fabric Engine’s tools development framework.

A new way to create trees
Flora uses an interesting approach to vegetation generation, designed to meet the needs of real production pipelines, and intended to scale to very large scenes at minimal extra processing cost.

According to Fabric Engine: “[Flora treats each plant] as a complex FK hierarchy and [animates it] purely using angular motion. This allows for realistic hierarchical animation as well as smooth radial motion blur.”

The software then skins the FK skeleton using a library of OBJ files representing parts of the tree.

The constructed topology isn’t saved to disk, but regenerated in real time for rendering, and the data is saved as ASCII files – easy to edit by hand or pass between tools in the pipeline.

According to Fabric Engine, Flora is “completely integrated” into its host packages, meaning trees can interact with Softimage ICE force fields, for example, and play nicely with Arnold’s LOD system.

You can find more videos of the Flora workflow and the different native versions on Fabric Engine’s site.

Pricing changes
In a move intended to help third-party developers and smaller studios, Fabric Engine has also reduced the price of the core Creation platform to $750 for a permanent licence, or $250 per year per node if rented.

Previously, Creation and all the tools created with it were sold for a flat fee of $3,000.

According to CEO Paul Doyle: “[A $3,000 price point] means everyone wants to see significant value before purchasing Creation – yet we started the company so that we could cover both large and small problems.

“This means that we have to keep adding functionality to create sufficient value to justify the purchase … taking us further away from offering a framework and heading towards to the monolithic DCC applications that we never intended to replicate.”

Flora and the other tools, which include muscle simulation system Flex, hair system Tufty and crowd simulator Horde, will now be made available separately later this year. Module pricing has not been announced yet.

Read more about Flora on Fabric Engine’s website