Friday, June 7th, 2019 Posted by Jim Thacker

10bit FX ships Notch 0.9.22

10bit FX has released Notch 0.9.22, the next major update to its line of real-time motion-graphics and VFX authoring tools, adding a new hardware-accelerated ray tracing system.

The technology is based on DirectX 11 and is hardware-agnostic, being designed to run on any current GPU.

Other new features in the release include native support for Substance materials, automatic transcoding of imported video footage, and a “2-4x” speed boost in shader compilation.

Notch Playback and Notch Builder: a quick overview
Originally designed for live visuals for events – Notch Playback integrates directly with media servers – the Notch product line is also now targeted at more general DCC work.

Notch Builder, the new-ish authoring tool built on the Notch engine, provides users with a node-based environment for setting up motion graphics systems and simulations.

It imports geometry in OBJ, FBX or Alembic format – it doesn’t have its own modelling toolset – and is designed to integrate with other DCC software, including Cinema 4D, RealFlow and Blender.

We wrote about the software last year, so check out our original story for more details.

New in Notch 0.9.22: GPU-agnostic hardware-accelerated ray tracing
The most obvious change in Notch 0.9.22 is the new hardware-accelerated ray tracing system.

Unlike most other recent implementations of real-time ray tracing, it isn’t based on Nvidia’s RTX GPU architecture, but a proprietary solution using DirectX 11.

That means that it should work with older and non-Nvidia graphics cards, and – importantly for Notch – with media servers that don’t support DirectX 12, on which RTX is built.

According to 10bit FX, the system should also work better on scenes with a lot of dynamic geometry of the type common in real-time and motion graphics.

Hybrid rasterisation/ray tracing lets users trade performance against visual quality
The new ray tracing functionality supplements the existing render engine rather than replacing it.

The camera view is rendered with the standard rasterisation renderer, then ray tracing is used for secondary effects, currently including ambient occlusion, and real-time reflections and refractions.

That should enable users to balance interactive performance against the visual quality of rendered output by switching more processor-intensive effects on and off.

More effects will be added in future, with full path tracing due in the “not too distant future”.

You can find a more detailed discussion of the system in this story on 10bit FX’s NotchCon user conference, at which it first previewed Notch’s ray tracing capabilities.

Other new features: Substance support, automatic video transcoding, new export formats
Other new features in Notch 0.9.22 include native support for materials in Substance Designer’s .sbsar format. Any exposed property within a Substance can be edited inside the software.

Notch now also automatically transcodes imported video footage into Notch’s own NotchLC codec, described by 10bit FX as a “massive jump in quality over existing solutions”.

The release ships with NotchLC plugins for After Effects, Media Encoder, QuickTime and Premiere Pro.

In addition, the update adds support for new video formats, including 16- and 32-bit floating point RGBA and 16-bit EXR; and support for non-unicode text.

There is also now a “proper Bézier curve editor” for drawing masks, plus a number of new generators, deformers, and geometry- and particle-editing tools.

Workflow and performance improvements
Workflow improvements include changes to the timeline and curve editor designed to make them more familiar to users coming from After Effects.

The viewport camera controls have also been modified to bring them more in line with other DCC tools.

Performance improvements include a “2-4x” speed boost in shader compilation, and a “much faster” PNG loader. You can find a full list of new features via the link below.

Pricing and system requirements
Notch 0.9.22 is available for Windows 7+.

Notch Builder is rental-only, with the Base edition costing £99/month (around $125/month) and the Professional edition costing £189/month ($240/month). You can see a feature comparison table here.

Read an overview of the new features in Notch 0.9.22 on the product blog

Read a full list of new features in Notch 0.9.22 in the online changelog