Friday, April 3rd, 2020 Posted by Jim Thacker

Golaem ships Golaem 7.3

Golaem has released Golaem 7.3, the latest update to its crowd simulation system for Maya, adding a USD procedural plugin for exporting Golaem caches to compatible tools like Houdini in USD format.

Other features added since Golaem 7.0 include morphology variations for crowd characters, support for skinned animated fur, and a new object scattering system for shot layout work.

An intuitive crowd animation tool making use of standard Maya workflows
Since its launch in 2011, Golaem has been adopted by many of the key facilities in the VFX industry, featuring in no fewer than four separate studios’ work on Game of Thrones.

It was developed with the aim of providing a more intutive workflow than traditional simulation software, with users able to use Maya’s native tools to control crowd behaviour.

Golaem also includes toolsets for building custom AI logic, generating automatic variations of crowd characters, and interactively previewing and editing simulations.

Output is natively compatible with Arnold, Guerilla Render, Redshift, RenderMan and V-Ray; and users can output to other DCC tools for rendering, including 3ds Max, Houdini and Unreal Engine.

New in Golaem 7.3: new USD procedural plugin, new ‘animation retake’ system
The key change in Golaem 7.3 is the stable release of the new USD procedural plugin, enabling users to export Golaem simulation caches to other DCC software in the now-VFX-industry-standard USD format.

Readymade plugins are available for Houdini, Katana and the USD standalone, but Golaem has now released the source code under an LGPL licence for studios that need to create plugins for other software.

The release also adds support for animation layers within the posture and rig layers of the Layout Tool.

Golaem describes the update as creating a “complete retake tool” for adjusting the animation of crowd characters after simulation, without an artist having to leave the crowd pipeline.

New since Golaem 7.0: morphology variants for crowd characters, skinning for animated fur
Since we last wrote about the software, Golaem has also added new override nodes to its Character Maker, to represent different morphologies within the same character file.

They make it possible to generate a greater range of variation for crowd actors, as shown in the video above.

As well as automatically generating variation in character shading, hair and clothing, users can now generate characters with varying heights and bodily proportions.

Golaem also now supports proper skinning for characters with procedural fur, enabling fur to move more naturally with the crowd animation.

The new workflow is compatible with any system that can export fur as Maya or Alembic curves, including third-party plugins like Yeti and Ornatrix.

New object scattering system for shot layout work
The updates also continue the trend established in recent releases of broadening Golaem from a pure crowd simulation system to a more general shot layout tool.

The Population Tool, used to place crowd characters in a scene, gets a new Scatter Mode aimed at distributing environment objects like trees, rocks and buildings.

Assets can be scattered around random ‘seed’ positions on a terrain, or to custom regions of it; and decimated according to surface angle or distance from an object.

Pricing and availability
Golaem 7.3 is available for Maya 2017+, running on 64-bit Windows 7+ or CentOS/RHEL WS 6+ Linux.

A perpetual lience of the full software costs $9,000. Golaem Layout, the cut-down edition of the software focused on shot layout work, costs $2,300. You can see a comparison table of the two editions here.

Rental options are also available.

Read an overview of the new features in Golaem 7.3 on Golaem’s blog
(Includes features added in Golaem 7.2)

See a full list of changes in Golaem 7.3 in the online documentation