Saturday, July 30th, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

Joe Alter previews Shave and a Haircut 10

Joe Alter has previewed Shave and a Haircut 10: a major update to the veteran Maya hair and fur plugin that ports the entire application to the GPU, and adds powerful new real-time grooming and sculpting functionality.

The release, which is due to ship in November, was on display at Siggraph 2016 earlier this week.

A hair and fur solution with a long pedigree
First released over a decade ago, Shave and a Haircut was one of the first dedicated commercial hair and fur simulation systems for DCC software.

Although best known as a Maya plugin, the underlying tech was also integrated into 3ds Max and Softimage.

Although the software dropped out of the news for a few years at the start of the decade while Alter worked on facial sculpting and rigging tool LipService, it remains in use at studios including DreamWorks and Technicolor.

A sizeable update, Shave and a Haircut 9.0, was released late last year, but Alter tells us that development work on version 10 was actually begun three years ago.

New in version 10: full GPU support
The major change in Shave and a Haircut 10 is extended GPU support: the entire application has been ported to the GPU, improving real-time performance for hair generation, grooming and display.

The implementation is OpenCL-based, so it should be compatible with any modern graphics card.

New brush tool paints on over 100 channels in real time
In addition, a new brush tool makes it possible to paint on over 100 channels – 60 or so of them entirely new; and including dynamics and displacement – and see the hair react dynamically.

Paint operations occur on a per-hair basis and respect the UVs of the mesh on which the hair is generated.

Sculpting improvements and support for geometry hierarchies
There are also “over a dozen sculpt improvements” including three new sculpt tools, with the results also calculated in real time.

The demo build we saw at Siggraph didn’t support real-time hair-to-hair collisions, but Alter tells us that this will be implemented before version 10 is released.

In addition, new “hierarchical generation types” make it possible to control different levels of a geometry hierarchy separately – for example, the quill and barbs of a feather, or the trunk and branches of a tree.

Other new features include support for programmable forces
Version 10 also implements ‘blowers’ – new programmable force types that can be applied to a hair system.

Other features include real-time updates on moving rigs and, on the display front, real-time A-buffer deep opacity and sampling.

Pricing and availability
Shave and a Haircut 10 for Maya is due to ship in November. The release is expected to include a proof-of-concept integration plugin for Unity, with other such integrations expected to follow.

Pricing hasn’t been finalised yet, but Alter tells us that he expects the cost to be roughly double that of version 9, which is available on a rental-only basis, starting at $50/month for a node-locked licence.

Read more about Shave and a Haircut on Joe Alter’s website