The Foundry ships Mari 3
Originally posted on 11 August 2015. Scroll down for news of the commercial release.
The Foundry has unveiled Mari 3, a major update to its industry-standard texturing package that adds support for key open standards, improves workflow with modern renderers, and integrates Mari more tightly with Modo.
The update, previously available in beta for registered users, will go on display publicly at Siggraph 2015 this week, and is due for a commercial release in the third quarter of this year.
Render assets directly in Modo…
Top of the feature list for Mari 3 is Modo rendering: users can now access the renderer in The Foundry’s 3D software directly within Mari, enabling them to see final-quality images of assets as they paint.
In addition, Modo’s baking engine can be used to bake textures from within Mari.
…or preview them using Arnold, V-Ray, Redshift and UE4 shaders
However, for many users, the more significant changes are going to be those affecting the way Mari integrates with standard production pipelines, particularly rendering pipelines.
Mari 3 includes shaders designed to simulate those in three key modern VFX production renderers, Arnold, V-Ray and Redshift; and in Unreal Engine – an indication of Mari’s gradual spread from VFX to games work.
The new shaders should ensure that the look of assets within Mari matches those of final-quality renders more closely. In addition, there are four new APIs to help studios create custom integrations with rendering pipelines.
The update also adds support for a range of industry-standard technologies, including OpenSubdiv subdivision surface meshes and FBX geometry.
New TD options, plus partial access to the node graph
In addition, there are a number of changes designed to help TDs create custom tools, including extended access to selection groups via Python scripting, and a new Safe mode to help with debugging.
The software’s underlying node graph has also been partially exposed, enabling artists to create materials by wiring nodes rather than working with conventional layers or channels, in a similar way to Substance Designer.
Other key additions in Mari 3 include session scripts: a lightweight archive format that can be used to merge projects, or set up templates for reuse. You can read a longer feature list at the foot of the story.
Updated 3 December: Mari 3 is now shipping Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Both node-locked and floating licences currently cost $2,013, including a year’s maintenance.
The Mari 3 product page, accessible via the link below, has been updated to include videos of all of the new features, which you can also view via The Foundry’s Vimeo channel.
NEW FEATURES IN MARI 3 (Taken from The Foundry’s press release)
- MODO rendering and baking
Access MODO’s advanced photorealistic renderer directly within MARI to check the final-render quality of your work as you paint, helping you iterate faster to achieve the look you want. In addition, you can now use MODO’s powerful baking engine to bake textures from within MARI; new baking presets can be created in MODO, offering an extensive range of looks.
- OpenSubdiv support
New support for OpenSubdiv geometry in MARI lets you work with subdivision surface (SDS) meshes, without the need to translate or pre-subdivide them. With subdivision surfaces, you can view and work with a more faithful representation of the final rendered smooth surface, and with accurate UV layouts for each level of subdivision.
- Color space management
Building on the previous introduction of OpenColorIO, MARI 3 delivers new flexible, artist-friendly color management workflows. With color space properties available on both images and on individual channels of multi-channel images, the requirement to preprocess or post-process images into the correct color space is eliminated, saving time and reducing errors.
- Exposed node graph
Advanced users can now create and edit channels and layers in a more powerful, efficient and visual manner with phase one of the exposure of MARI’s node graph. As an option to using the traditional layer system to add channels and layers, you can now work directly in the node graph, selecting and connecting nodes to build your final textured surface.
- Custom group nodes
With new access to the node graph, advanced users can combine frequently used functions into custom group nodes that appear as a single entity, similar to NUKE’s Gizmo feature; you can select which parameters to expose, reducing unnecessary complexity. Gizmos can be exported for use in other projects, or shared with others.
- Arnold, V-Ray, Unreal and Redshift shaders
New shaders designed to simulate those used in industry-standard rendering and games engines—Arnold, V-Ray, Unreal and Redshift—let you paint your textures in their intended final context, providing more realistic previews and giving you the confidence that your textures will work as expected.
- FBX geometry support
Work in conjunction with a vast range of third-party and proprietary 3D solutions and source material providers, with new support for reading geometry from the widely adopted FBX format files. With MARI 3, you can view a tree widget of the contents of your FBX file and choose to import either the entire hierarchy or selected child nodes.
- Session scripts
New Session Scripts in MARI 3 let you create a lightweight archive of a project that can be combined with other archives, keeping all data intact. The ability to merge projects lets you see assets in context with other assets, share useful data for reuse, or set up project templates.
- Rendering integration APIs
MARI 3 delivers four new APIs that help studios integrate MARI with their rendering pipeline, reducing the need to transfer files between applications and resulting in faster iterations and a more accurate understanding of the final context. Potential applications include real-time viewport display, network rendering and texture baking.
- Enhanced texture transfer
MARI’s Texture Transfer system uses generated point cloud data to transfer textures between two different models, without the need for matching topology or UVs. In MARI 3, you can use this data to generate height and normal maps between high and low polygon models, seamlessly blur across patch boundaries, and correctly transfer overlapping UVs.
- Entity locators
Translate, rotate and scale geometry more easily with new Entity Locators. Entity Locators offer a 3D manipulator that improves visual accuracy when transforming geometry inside MARI’s viewport using the Move tool.
- Safe mode
A new Safe mode in MARI 3 offers easier troubleshooting by isolating the user’s involvement and environment issues during debugging. Being able to identify and isolate critical points faster will help resolve issues and improve the customer support process.
- Extended access to selection groups
Developers and TDs can now access selection groups through the Python API, allowing them to manipulate various parts of a geometry entity through scripting and to automate related functionality. In addition, artists can now access selection groups directly by clicking on them on the model in the viewer.