Thursday, October 13th, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

The Foundry ships Modo 10.2

The Foundry has released Modo 10.2, the third and final instalment in its Modo 10 Series of updates to its 3D modelling and animation software.

The release, some early teasers for which were released last week, revamps Modo’s MeshFusion Booleans toolset, extends its procedural modelling capabilities, and adds a new automatic retopology system.

MeshFusion workflow is now Schematic-free
MeshFusion, the Boolean modelling plugin incorporated into the core software in Modo 901 – and still one of Modo’s unique selling points – gets a major update, as shown in the video above.

The key change is that workflow no longer relies on Schematics, Modo’s visual programming system, which should make it friendlier to less technically minded artists.

Instead, the software automatically reorders the underlying tree stucture of a MeshFusion item, creating and destroying temporary geometry assemblies on the fly.

Old Fusion models will still load and display normally in Modo 10.2, although they will need to be converted to the new ‘flat schematic’ system before they can be edited further.

Better viewport performance and more accurate output
There’s also a new Deferred Updates option, which forces Modo only to update a MeshFusion item when you release the mouse button, which should improve interactive performance on complex models.

In addition, items are now displayed as wireframes, and are colour-coded, which should make it easier to see what’s going on in the viewport. MeshFusion also now supports n-gons in source meshes.

Overall, The Foundry claims that the system is “more robust” and that “filleting is more accurate and output geometry is cleaner”.

Procedural modelling now works with more tools; new option to export presets
Procedural modelling is a much more recent toolset, having only been added in Modo 10.1 earlier this year, but it also gets a significant update.

First, more standard modelling operations have been made compatible with procedural workflow. You can find a full list of them here, including Array, Clone, Mirror, Symmetrize, Boolean, Slice, and the Drill tools.

The Boundary Edges, Invert and Grow/Shrink selection operations are also now supported, making it possible to modify selections more easily.

In addition, the Merge Meshes operation now supports any item with geometry in it, including MeshFusion items, VDBVoxel meshes, or the outputs from Canvas graphs created in the new Fabric Engine for Modo.

Equally importantly, procedural assemblies can now be collapsed into single Assembly Alias items, reducing on-screen clutter, and making it possible to create shareable presets for complex procedural models.

A few updates to conventional modelling tools
Conventional modelling sees fewer changes, but there are updates to the Curve and Bezier tools.

New features include the option to close a curve by right-clicking the first control point, and a new widget to change the rounding angle of corners, but it’s probably easiest just to see them in action in this video.

New automatic retopology system for controllably decimating dense meshes
There are also a few completely new tools, including Auto Retopo, a new automatic retopology system.

The core algorithm “aims to output a clean mesh with good topology at a density you specify”, with options to generate all-quads or a mixture of three, four and five-point polygons.

It seems to be more of a decimation system than it is a complete retopology toolset of the kind added to Maya in Maya 2014, but the output geometry looks fairly good in the video above.

The results can be further refined by sketching guide curves on the mesh surface, painting weight maps, and using a crease angle setting to preserve sharp edges.

Suggested uses include reducing raw scan data or digital sculpts to a more manageable poly count; or for generating Level of Detail meshes for games.

Lighting and rendering changes include support for Mesh Lights
Modo’s final-quality renderer also gets an update, with reflection, refraction and subsurface scattering settings becoming globals rather than having to be assigned on a per-material basis.

There is also a new Mesh Light type, which converts any mesh into a light source. According to The Foundry, Mesh Lights generate less shading noise than standard luminous geometry, particularly on thin meshes.

There are also more controls for rendering rounded edges – again, it’s probably easiest to see them in action in the video above – and the Preview renderer viewport can now be locked, preventing you from making accidental changes to a scene that would force an unwanted render update.

Deformation caching improves animation playback
In the character animation toolset, there is a new Cache Deformers option that causes Modo to calculate the deformations for an animation and cache them in memory, improving interactive performance.

According to The Foundry, timeline scrubbing can be “up to 100 times faster” on complex scenes; and unlike a regular playblast, you can edit the cameras or materials in the scene without invalidating the cache.

UI changes and smaller features
There are also a fair number of changes to Modo’s UI, designed to improve workflow. You can see the main ones in this video, or read a full list of changes in the release notes.

The notes also list a few neat smaller changes, like numeric control colour correction – which, among other things, enables users to copy and paste hex codes from Photoshop to Modo and have the colours match.

Pricing and availability
Modo 10.2 is available now for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The update will be free to anyone who purchased either of the previous two updates in the Modo 10 Series, Modo 10.0v1 and Modo 10.1.

Both individual and floating licences of Modo 10.2 cost $1,799, although The Foundry is offering a 40% launch discount for the week following the release.

Read a full list of features in Modo 10.2 in The Foundry’s release notes

Visit the Modo product website