Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 Posted by Jim Thacker

Foundry partners J Cube to distribute Multiverse Studio

Foundry has signed a deal with Japanese developer J Cube to distribute Multiverse Studio, its high-performance framework for transferring complex production assets between Maya and Katana.

The move looks set to increase uptake of the software among Western production houses.

J Cube has also released version 4.4 of the software, adding beta support for the Redshift renderer; and introducing a new unified licensing system that works across both host applications.

A high-performance framework for dense VFX and animation assets
Multiverse Studio is designed to streamline the process of transferring complex production assets along a visual effects or feature animation pipeline.

Its Hyperspace architecture provides a unified wrapper for two key open-source data transfer formats: Alembic and the new USD scene-description format.

Key benefits include performance and scalability – J Cube claims that its read speed is “up to 100x faster” than the default USD plugins for Maya and Katana, and that it can handle scenes of “potentially infinite size”.

Updated: Foundry has been in touch to clarify that the speed boost is actually specific to reading Alembic caches via the native Multiverse Alembic reader as opposed to the USD Sdf mechanism.

It also supports Lucasfilm’s open standard for rich material/look development data, MaterialX, and is designed to provide a “seamless transition of shading networks from Maya to Katana”.

Smart handling of simulation caches
Multiverse Studio also has a number of unique features, including the option to render Alembic files with varying topology – such as liquid or particle simulation caches – with velocity blur.

The functionality enables studios to import simulations created in Houdini into Maya or Katana and have the output match that generated by Houdini’s Mantra renderer.

The software also enables users to retime geometry caches at render time, enabling studios to adjust the timing of sims without the need to reexport them.

So who currently uses it?
Multiverse Studio is currently in use at leading Japanese animation house Polygon Pictures – of which J Cube is an R&D spin-off – notably on its recent sci-fi feature Blame!.

In the West, users include VFX houses Luma Pictures, which used it on Alien: Covenant and Doctor Strange, and Soho VFX, which used it on Logan – but with Foundry’s backing, we’d expect the list to expand rapidly.

Pricing and availability
Multiverse Studio 4.4 is available for Maya 2015+ and Katana 2.6 on Windows, Linux and, in Maya’s case, macOS. It supports the RenderMan, 3Delight and Arnold renderers, with V-Ray and Redshift support in beta.

As part of the changes, J Cube has also introduced a new licensing system in which individual licences work across Maya, Katana, “plus any future DCC app implementations”.

Interactive licences cost $720 each and batch licences $240 each, both including one year’s maintenance. There is also a free one-month trial edition, which watermarks output.

Read Foundry’s news release about its support for Multiverse Studio

Read more about Multiverse Studio on J Cube’s website