Monday, February 25th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Fabric Engine unveils new Stage and Orb modules

Fabric Engine has posted demos of Stage and Orb: two interesting new work-in-progress modules for Creation, its newly repriced platform for developing high-performance VFX pipeline tools.

Scene assembly and lighting development tool Stage (shown above) enables artists to work on a scene in real time, viewing the results via Creation’s real-time renderer (RTR) before output to a production renderer.

In the current alpha build, SolidAngle’s Arnold is the only such production renderer available, but the developer says that it intends to support other standard applications, including RenderMan and V-Ray.

A pipeline-agnostic system
Interaction between the two renderers is handled by Fabric Engine’s Kernel Language, which is compiled at runtime, ensuring that users can set up scene management in a way that matches any render pipeline.

Users can also combine real-time rendering and offline rendering: for example, for compositing offline render passes in real time.

According to Fabric Engine, the system scales easily to large production data sets: “All data is stored in parallel containers: there is one node for all of the lights [and] one node for all of the meshes, etc. This allows Stage to handle huge amounts of objects and lights. Furthermore, all of the communication is performed in parallel, so when meshes are moved into the renderer, this happens in a multithreaded fashion.”

The developer has also posted a new demo of Orb, its collection of server-side tools for streaming other Creation applications, showing the module streaming the output of the real-time renderer to a web browser.

Fabric Engine CEO Paul Doyle told CG Channel: “What’s nice is the standalone Python application you see [in the video] is being run with Orb [with] some HTML for the web page for handling mouse events and so on. Underneath that UI, it’s the same application.”

Review complex production assets remotely
Doyle notes that Fabric Engine recommends the system for remote viewing and asset approval rather than more intensive tasks, although “more and more will be possible through streaming” in future:

“It’s important to note that we’re yet to be convinced that you can stream applications for all cases – the latency does have an impact when you’re trying to do a lot of mouse interaction, particularly click-and-drag.

“You can get around some of that by moving parts of the UI to the browser (slide bars and so forth) rather than trying to stream it, but for many content-creation tools, you have to work directly in the viewport.”

Instead, Doyle believes that Orb’s power lies in its ability to enable many artists to review even complex production assets simultaneously, in real time.

“The portability of Creation means it’s feasible to move custom tools to the server without a big rewrite,” he said. “Orb provides the ability to stream this to a browser, and allows multiple connections to that session.”

Orb runs on any web server, including the Amazon cloud. Fabric Engine is currently accepting early access requests for both modules from studios “that want to support and influence [their] development”.

Read more about Stage on the Fabric Engine website

Watch a longer overview video of Orb