Thursday, November 4th, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Golaem ships Golaem 8.0

Golaem has released Golaem 8.0, a major update to its crowd simulation system for Maya that makes it possible to interact with Golaem simulations inside Unreal Engine in real time.

Other changes include the option to visualise character shading variants directly in the Maya viewport, support for viewport depth of field and fog, and new crowd layout tools.

Much of the new functionality has been available in current builds for a few months – the latest version is Golaem 8.0.3 – but Golaem has just announced the Golaem 8 release on its website.

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 8: interact directly with Golaem simulations inside Unreal Engine
The big change in Golaem 8.0 is to the Golaem for Unreal plugin, making it possible to execute simulations created in Golaem inside Unreal Engine in real time.

The workflow, based around the new Golaem Digital Asset (.gda) file format, lets users interact with simulations directly inside the game engine, rather than just playing back simulation caches.

The integration supports Unreal Engine’s Blueprint system, making it possible to trigger events in a Golaem simulation or to override its parameter values inside UE4.

Support for shading diversity and depth of field in the Maya viewport
Other changes include support for shading diversity in the Maya viewport, making it possible to view shading variants for characters while setting up a simulation, without the need for test renders.

Golaem characters can also now be displayed in the viewport with depth of field and viewport fog.

In addition, a new Mesh Drive mode display mode generates actual Maya geometry for each crowd character, including all of their deformations, making it possible to render a scene with any Maya renderer.

New crowd layout and display tools
New layout tools include the option to snap groups of characters to user-defined positions in a scene, shown in use in the video above to create regiments of soldiers on a battlefield.

The Layout tool also gets a new Mirror layer, for mirroring cached geometry and animation; and a ReplaceLODDistances layer, for better control over how LOD levels are displayed in the Maya viewport.

New crowd layout tools
Physics changes include a new Torque attribute for the Force behaviour, providing more control over how characters respond to physics events like explosions, as shown in the video above.

Golaem has also taken over maintenance of the PhysX and Apex plugins for Maya from original developer Nvidia. Golaem uses the real-time simulation frameworks for rigid bodies and cloth.

Other new features since Golaem 7.0
Other changes listed on Golaem’s website but actually added in Golaem 7.x include a new USD procedural; a new procedural hair workflow; and Skeleton Overrides, for generating variants of characters’ body forms.

You can read more about them in our story on Golaem 7.3.

Pricing and availability
Golaem 8.03 is available for Maya 2018+, 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 8 on Golaem’s blog
(Includes features added in Golaem 7.x)

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