Animate like Pixar artists with F.A.S.T. for 3ds Max
Kinematic Lab – aka tools developer Clovis Gay – has released F.A.S.T. (Fast Animation Surface Tool): a 3ds Max plugin that aims to mimic the workflow of Pixar’s Presto animation software – or one key part of it, at least.
Animate by dragging the mesh surface directly
F.A.S.T. enables users to pose a character by designating sections of the mesh as control zones and manipulating them directly with the mouse, rather than setting up separate rig controls.
The resulting deformations, as shown in the video at the top of the story, are sometimes a bit cartoon-y, but the animation workflow looks amazingly quick and intuitive.
If the tutorial video below is anything to go by, the set-up process is quick, too: just select a set of contiguous faces, designate them as a control zone, then wire them to your blendshapes or deformers.
You only need the plugin to rig and animate the scene, not to render it, so you can pass the file to non-users once you’re done, too.
Pricing and availability
F.A.S.T. is available for 3ds Max 2010 and above, but “works better since [version] 2013”. A node-locked licence costs €130 (around $175).