Foundry ships Modo 12.1
The update integrates Modo VR, Foundry’s experimental virtual reality viewport, into the software, and overhauls the existing Advanced Viewport to make it possible to display more complex material setups.
As with recent releases, Modo’s modelling and UV toolsets have been extended, while animators get a new Driven Actions system and updates to the Graph Editor.
Modo VR: view assets and lay out scenes in virtual reality
The most obvious change in Modo 12.1 is that it’s now possible to work in virtual reality.
Foundry tells us that in its initial incarnation, it’s intended primarily as a look dev and layout tool, enabling artists to inspect or place assets already created, using an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headset.
Users can navigate in a number of ways familiar from VR games, including pointing a controller to teleport or pinching to zoom, or the potentially nausea-inducing option of holding a control to glide.
Objects can be manipulated in a number of simple ways, including moving, rotating, scaling and instancing them, and snapping them to surrounding surfaces.
It’s even possible to leave annotations, albeit by writing them in longhand, directly in the air.
Advanced Viewport: support for Group Masks
The Advanced Viewport, updated in Modo 12.0, gets a further, fairly significant update, adding full support for Group Masks, including their attendant blend modes and opacity settings.
This makes it possible to display complex, multi-layered materials more accurately: according to Foundry, there is now “little difference” between the way they look in the Advanced Viewport and a final render.
Animation: new Driven Actions system and updates to the Graph Editor
The release also brings a long-awaited update to Modo’s animation tools, although it’s more of an extension of the existing functionality than a major overhaul.
The biggest addition is Driven Actions, which convert an existing Action clip into a channel in the scene, making it possible to offset or retime it by dragging on its start and end points or adjusting curves.
It is also possible to link the Action to other entities in the scene, in a way loosely analogous to Set Driven Key in Maya: the video above shows an animation of a cockpit opening being triggered by a locator.
The Graph Editor gets a new default Smooth Flat curve type, intended to generate smoother interpolations between keys; and a handy-looking Box Scaling tool for manipulating multiple keys, shown at 01:27 above.
Modelling: new options for smoothing objects
The modelling toolsets, extended throughout the Modo 10 and 11 release cycles, have been further updated.
The biggest changes are to direct modelling, specifically to the way that objects are smoothed.
The Vertex Normal Toolkit, used to control the apparent hardness of edges through shading, gets new options to control hardness on a per-component basis.
Updates are stored as part of Modo’s native smoothing, removing the need to re-generate normal maps.
The native smoothing system gets new weighting options, shown in the second half of the video above; and a new Smoothing Group Manager, to control which parts of a mesh are affected by which smoothing group.
The procedural modelling toolset gets a number of rather specific changes, summarised in this video, while the MeshFusion Surface Strips system also gets a few new options, shown at the end of the video below.
UVs: improved packing algorithm, option to divide UVs betwen UDIM spaces by polygon tags
The UV toolset gets a new UV packing algorithm, designed to reduce calculation times and improve coverage of UV space, particularly when packing concave UV islands.
There is also an important option to separate UV islands between UDIM spaces according to polygon tags, including options to divide them according to materials, parts, smoothing groups or selection sets.
Miscellaneous changes: updates to the Curve Particle Generator and UI
Other changes include an update the the Curve Particle Generator, used for distributing instanced geometry along curves: you can see the new features at 01:25 in the video above.
There are also a number of UI changes, shown in this video, including with dedicated popovers for all third-party add-on kits, and a new Beta Layout option.
The latter showcases new UI concepts currently in development for working in a single layout.
As ever, there are also a lot of smaller new features and bugfixes: you can find a full list via the link below.
Pricing and availability
Modo 12.1 is available for 64-bit Windows 7+, RHEL and CentOS 7+ Linux, and Mac OS X 10.11+. Buying or upgrading to 12.1 automatically grants access to the other two updates in the Modo 12 Series.
New perpetual licences of the software cost $1,799, while rental starts at $599/year.