Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 Posted by Jim Thacker

Nukeygara unveils the 2019 Akeytsu product roadmap

Originally posted on 10 August 2019. Scroll down for news of the October 2019 update.

Nukeygara has posted its 2019 product roadmap for Akeytsu, its unconventional animation software, including additive layers, facial blendshape animation, and a new macOS edition.

The new features, due to be released in three phased updates, will be available to users on support contracts or Nukeygara’s new Akeytsu Live subscriptions.

A rigging and animation tool designed by artists, for artists
Released in 2017 after several years in beta, Akeytsu is intended to rethink the process of character rigging and animation “for artists, not engineers”.

It features an unconventional user interface designed to display the character being rigged as large as possible, with a full-screen viewport and a set of floating palettes.

The software has a single default skeleton that can be manipulated in FK or IK mode, and dispenses with conventional rig controls: users click directly on the skinned mesh to pose the character.

A large circular ‘Spinner‘ – its size is designed to keep it constantly in the user’s peripheral vision – switches between transform modes.

Keyframing relies on the Stacker, a toolset derived from a traditional 2D animation exposure sheet, rather than a timeline, with a separate window, Cyclemaker, for generating motion cycles.

The Curveboard, Akeytsu’s graph editor, is integrated directly into the viewport.

Characters can be imported from other DCC applications or exported to game engines in FBX format: the software’s default skeleton has templates for both Unity and Unreal Engine.

Some new features in Akeytsu 1.1 and 1.2, but largely bugfix updates
Since the intitial release, Nukeygara has put out a number of product updates, although they’ve mainly been bugfix releases or smaller improvements.

Aketysu 1.1 and 1.2, both released last year, added lasso selection for vertices and the option to select only the front vertices in a character mesh, and updated the IK and reverse foot set-up.

However, since then, things have been quiet: there has only been a single update this year, which was to introduce subscription-based licensing.

Due later in 2019: new macOS version, additive layers, blendshape facial animation
The new roadmap suggests a considerable change in the pace of development, listing three planned updates for the remainder of the year, all introducing significant new features.

September’s release will include a new macOS edition of the previously Windows-only software, and introduce automatic animation recomputing for a character after pivot reorientation in a bind pose.

October’s release will introduce support for additive animation layers, as shown in the video above, and further update Akeytsu’s skinning workfow, including support for geodesic voxel binding.

Finally, December’s release will introduce support for blendshape-based facial animation, in addition to the existing bone-based workflow, and a new tween machine for animation interpolation.

There are also a number of smaller features, which you can find via the link below.

Nukeygara says that it also aims to “deliver a minimum of three release packs in 2020”, with the goal being to release updates roughly quarterly.

Updated 29 October 2019: The October update, Akeytsu 2019-3, is now shipping. At the time of posting, it’s only available for Windows, although the previous release, Akeytsu 2019-2, is also available for macOS.

As well as the features listed above, the release adds stepped interpolation for animation curves and support for backface culling to improve interactive performance when working with complex assets.

You can find more details about the changes in Nukeygara’s blog post about the update.

Pricing and availability
Akeytsu is available for Windows Vista and above. An Indie licence, for artists or studios earning under $100,000/year, currently costs $239; a Pro licence costs $699.

The new Akeytsu Live subscriptions start at $14.99/month for Indie users, or $39.99/month for Pro users.

Indie Akeytsu Live subscriptions also act as a ‘rent to own’ plan, with users who have subcribed for at least 12 of the previous 15 calendar months eligible to pay a further $59.99 for a perpetual licence.

Read the Akeytsu 2019 product roadmap on Nukeygara’s website