Saturday, May 22nd, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Toolchefs ships Atoms VFX 4.0 and AtomsUnreal 2.0

Originally posted on 14 April 2021. Scroll down for news of AtomsUnreal 2.0.

Toolchefs has shipped Atoms VFX 4.0, the new version of its crowd animation system for Maya and Houdini.

The release introduces a new Behaviour Tree system, making it possible to set up more complex conditional behaviours for crowd characters, and a new importer for animations from Adobe’s Mixamo library.

There is also a new free feature-limited Personal Learning Edition (PLE) of the software.

Updated 20 May 2021: Toolchefs has now also released AtomsUnreal 2.0, an updated version of its Unreal Engine plugin, available via its Atoms Realtime licences.

A skeleton-based crowd system for common DCC applications
Created by former crowd tools developers at MPC and Framestore, and first released in 2017, Atoms Crowd is a cross-application skeleton-based crowd simulation system.

It integrates with a range of key VFX and game development tools, including Maya, Houdini and Unreal Engine, and supports workflows based around the FBX, Alembic and USD file formats.

The software is currently in use at major VFX facilities including Cinesite, Image Engine and Reel FX.

Four separate licence types for offline and real-time work
The product family evolved during the Atoms Crowd 3.x releases, and now comprises four licence types.

Atoms VFX includes the Maya and Houdini plugins, while Atoms Procedural adds plugins for Clarisse iFX and Katana, and is required for rendering in third-party renderers like Arnold, Redshift, RenderMan and V-Ray.

The newest licence type, Atoms Realtime (Atoms RT), provides access to the Unreal Engine plugin.

Atoms Framework provides access to the software’s Python and C++ APIs for custom integrations.

New in Atoms VFX 4.0: build complex crowd behaviours with the new Behaviour Tree module
The main new feature in Atoms VFX 4.0 itself is the new Behaviour Tree system, which enables users to author more complex conditional AI behaviours for crowd agents.

The video above shows it in use to create a set-up in which agents in opposing factions charge at one another when they get within range, then stop and begin fighting with swords and shields.

The release also adds a new Mixamo character importer, making it possible to import animation clips from Adobe’s Mixamo library.

There is also a new Debugger tool for troubleshooting crowd set-ups, which makes it possible to view metadata for crowd agents in a spreadsheet view, or view an individual agent’s behaviour tree.

Since we last wrote about the software, Toolchefs has also added a new skeleton retargeting system and a new tool for importing assets from Reallusion’s Character Creator.

New product pricing, including a new free PLE edition
Toolchefs has also updated the pricing for the Atoms Crowd product family.

Anyone wanting to try the software for free can now get a PLE licence. They’re feature-limited, capping simulations at 200 crowd agents, and disabling export of animation caches.

Educational licences of the software, which are not feature-restricted, are also free for non-commercial use.

Indie licences have now been reduced in price, and the old cap on earnings has been removed, making them available to any individual artist, regardless of how much they earn each year.

Between Indie and Studio licences and the number of different permutations of licence types available, the overall pricing structure is pretty complex: you can see a full pricing breakdown here.

Updated 20 May 2021: Toolchefs has released AtomsUnreal 2.0, the corresponding update to the Unreal Engine plugin, again adding the new Behaviour Tree and a new debugger.

The release also improves the agent layout tools and integration with Unreal Engine’s Sequencer toolset.

Pricing and system requirements
Atoms VFX 4.0 is available for Windows 10 and CentOS/RHEL 6.5+ Linux. The integration plugins are compatible with Maya 2018-2020 and Houdini 18.0+. The software is rental-only.

For individuals, a node-locked licence of Atoms VFX costs £89/year (around $120/year).

For studios, one floating or node-locked licence of Atoms VFX and 10 floating Atoms Procedural licences cost £390/month or £2,890/year (around $540/month or $3,980/year).

AtomsUnreal 2.0 is compatible with Unreal Engine 4.25+. For individuals, a node-locked licence of Atoms RT costs £75/year; for studios, one floating or node-locked licence costs £1,590/year.

Read a full list of new features in Atoms VFX 4.0 in the online changelog

Read a full list of new features in AtomsUnreal 2.0 in the online changelog

Read more about the Atoms Crowd product family on Toolchefs’ website