Friday, August 4th, 2017 Posted by Jim Thacker

Fabric Software announces Fabric Engine 2.6

Fabric Software has unveiled Fabric Engine 2.6, the new version of its platform for developing custom tools for VFX and games pipelines, adding support for USD and Autodesk’s AnimX, and a new RBF solver.

The new version was announced to concide with Siggraph 2017, and will ship later this month.

Support for Pixar’s USD format, plus Asset Patterns for controlling scene data exchange
The release introduces support for USD, Pixar’s new open format for transferring complex scene data between DCC applications.

The work makes Fabric Engine one of the first tools to support USD out of the box, although the USD distribution itself comes with readymade plugins for Maya, Houdini and Katana.

As well as supporting the USD format, version 2.6 introduces Asset Patterns: “rules-based recipes” created in Canvas, Fabric Engine’s node-based programming system, that control how data is imported into software.

Previously known as Import Patterns, Asset Patterns enable TDs to set up rules for manipulating data before it is imported into an application, rather than once it has been imported.

Suggested use cases include filtering out objects or merging surfaces before scenes created in an offline environment like a DCC application are imported into a real-time environment like a game engine.

According to Fabric, “changes made in [the] authoring application can [then] be quickly pushed to the game engine without a full import process”, speeding up the process of iterating in-game content.

Support for Autodesk’s AnimX means animation curves are calculated the same way as in Maya
Other changes include support for AnimX, Autodesk’s open source library of functions for calculating animation curves in the same way as Maya.

Support for AnimX should mean that tools built with Fabric Engine replicate the interpolation schemes found in Maya, facilitating the transfer of animation data.

In support of the work, Fabric Software has added a new F-Curve widget to Fabric Engine, making it easier for TDs to add curve controls to the tools they develop.

New RBF solver for solving pose-based deformations in real time
The update also adds a new RBF (Radial Basis Function) solver, targeted at solving pose-based deformations in real time: for example, facial animation, corrective blendshapes, or secondary animation of cloth.

You can read a brief discussion of what RBF solvers do here.

New framework for creating custom manipulators that work across a range of software
Fabric Engine 2.6 also adds a new framework designed to simplify the process of writing manipulators like geometry selection or transform tools: the two readymade examples that ship with the software.

The manipulators are written in KL, Fabric Engine’s native programming language, and work cross-platform.

The system is intended to make it easier for studios to develop tools with a wider range of custom controls, rather than being limited to those available natively in host applications like Maya.

Other new features include support for LIDAR data, smaller workflow changes
Other changes in Fabric Engine include a new extension for handling the import of LIDAR data, and rewrapped extensions for handling the import and export of data in FBX format, and for Bullet physics.

There are also a number of improvements to the UI and workflow, shown at 03:05 in the video above.

Pricing and availability
Fabric Engine 2.6 is due to ship later in August 2017 for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The core software comes with free integration plugins for Maya, 3ds Max, Softimage and Modo. The UE4 plugin is in beta.

The software now appears to be rental-only, with prices starting at $1,200/year for one interactive and five headless licences, although you can still get free individual evaluation licences.

Read a full list of new features in Fabric Engine 2.6 on Fabric Software’s blog