Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk reveals features of MotionBuilder 2014

Autodesk has announced the new features of MotionBuilder 2014 in the run up to today’s live Unfold event.

The company describes its goal with the update as “building a virtual environment where a director could shoot a CG scene as if they were working with live action”.

Accordingly, many of the new features seem more geared towards visual effects rather than games users: the first being the new Linux edition, which runs on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.2 WS or Fedora 14 and above.

New optical mocap workflow
Despite arising from Autodesk’s development partnership with Weta and Lightstorm Entertainment, the new feature which seems likely to have the broadest appeal is the advanced mocap workflow.

The new ‘flexible mocap’ system shown in the video at the stop of the story provides a solver for optical motion-capture marker data, enabling markers to drive a character’s joints directly as a source with MotionBuilder.

Set-up is a simple process of dragging markers onto the joints they influence and assigning a relationship between the two. Markers can drive multiple joints, and the entire process is customisable via Python scripting.

The motion-capture data drives goals within MotionBuilder, then MotionBuilder’s HumanIK system takes over to solve the character’s skeleton from those goals.

HumanIK itself has been updated to support squash-and-stretch on the spine for better solves, and the results can be tweaked or offset manually to adjust the final animation.

There is also a new Custom Renderer API, enabling studios to integrate their own viewport renderers for “more on-target reference”. The system allows users to add attributes not supported by the default renderer.

The File Referencing API makes it easier to work with complex production scenes – a theme also addressed in Maya 2014 – and supports both C++ and Python.

Other new features fall into the general category of ‘small but handy’. The new Ruler tool enables artists to measure the distance between any two points in a MotionBuilder scene: again, useful in virtual production work.

The Look Through Selected option enables users to position lights more quickly by turning them into cameras and adjusting their position and orientation through the camera view.

New brand identity
MotionBuilder also gets a new ‘origami-inspired’ logo, which you can see in the homepage image for this story. The identity is part of a company-wide revamp, bringing all of Autodesk’s product logos in line with one another.

The animation tools, including 3ds Max, Maya, Softimage and MotionBuilder, also get new brand graphics in aqua and white, described by Autodesk as an abstract “visual representation of movement”.

MotionBuilder 2014 is due to ship on 12 April.

Read more about Softimage 2014 on the product homepage