Wednesday, June 8th, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

AXYZ design ships Anima 2

Originally posted on 8 June 2016. Updated with more information from AXYZ design.

AXYZ design has released Anima 2.0, the latest version of its crowd animation tool for 3ds Max and Cinema 4D.

The first update to the software in over a year, Anima 2.0 rewrites the software “from the ground up”, adding a new WYSIWYG editor and more options for controlling crowd animations more precisely.

So what is Anima?
Although aimed at visualisation professionals, Anima – also sometimes previously written as an(i)ma – has also been licensed by a number of broadcast and VFX companies, including Fox Networks and Pixomondo.

The software uses a similar approach to 3ds Max’s Populate toolset, enabling users to set up crowd animations rapidly by defining paths through a scene along which characters can move.

Anima then animates the characters using readymade motion clips, blending automatically between animation states. Actors can interact with other characters in the scene, or environment objects like stairs and escalators.

New in Anima 2.0: import of custom characters and mocap data
As well as Anima’s own characters – drawn from AXYZ design’s Metropoly collections of stock figures – users can now import their own characters in standard formats like OBJ and FBX.

Once imported, the look of characters can be randomised by setting up variant texture maps to control clothing colours. Users can also now import their own motion-capture data.

The software comes with plugins for 3ds Max and Cinema 4D, and the animations it generates can be rendered with key third-party tools like OctaneRender, Corona Renderer, Thea Render, V-Ray and Iray.

New in Anima 2.0: New WYSIWG editor, walkway tools and pose editor
AXYZ design has used the time since its last release to rewrite the software from scratch, describing Anima 2.0 as a “completely new application … improved in every way”.

Much of the work has gone in to making Anima more intuitive to use, revamping the software’s interface and introducing a new WYSIWYG editor.

The update also introduces new walkway tools for finer control over crowd behaviour, with settings to adjust distribution, spacing, direction and clustering; and the option to change the width of motion paths at any point.

As well as stairs and escalators, actors can now interact with other environment objects like ramps; avoid obstacles; and can be stopped and started at traffic lights.

Unlike previous releases, in which interactions had to be added manually, the new walkway tools automatically detect whether a character is walking on a ramp, climbing stairs, or navigating uneven terrain.

Actors can also move from motion paths to static areas, in which they sit or stand around.

In addition, there is a useful-looking grid mode for distributing actors, shown being used to create part of a stadium audience at 03:00 in the video above.

Updated 10 June 2016: Anima 2.0 also introduces a new pose editor, enabling users to pose characters by interacting directly with the rig, as opposed to the previous slider-based system.

Pricing and availability
Anima 2.0 is available for Windows only – unlike previous releases, there’s no Mac version – and costs €249 (around $285). The plugins are available for 3ds Max 2013 and above and Cinema 4D R14 and above.

While previous releases of Anima enabled users to export animations as geometry caches or in Collada format for rendering in other DCC software, this functionality has been removed in Anima 2.0.

AXYZ design tell us that it was “hard to make [Collada export] work reliably with many 3D rendering [apps]”.

There is also a free trial edition, which lacks readymade actors, limits rendering to four seconds of animation, and imposes a number of other feature restrictions.

Read more about Anima 2.0 in the online release notes

Visit the Anima product page on AXYZ design’s website