Monday, January 3rd, 2022 Posted by Jim Thacker

5 tools updates you may have missed in December 2021

While CG Channel tries to write about all of the major new versions of CG software that get released each month, sometimes there are smaller updates or useful plugins that we don’t manage to cover.

Rather then letting those releases slip past unnoticed, we’ve put together a round-up of five updates to visual effects, feature animation and architectural visualization tools that didn’t get full stories in December 2021.

Below, you can find summaries of what’s new in 3ds Max particle and volume meshing plugin AqMesher 2.5, plus ArtEngine 2021.15, HitFilm 2021.3, ftrack Studio 4.9 and Redshift 3.0.62.

AqMesher 2.5

An iterative update to MagicPictures Software‘s plugin for converting native 3ds Max particle systems, Krakatoa particle caches or OpenVDB volumes to meshes. The software was originally released in 2019.

New features

  • Support for 3ds Max 2022
  • Many new simulation nodes
  • Support for Particle Flow event selection on the Particles Obj node and Particles Listbox node

The previous 2.0 release was a major backwards-compatibility-breaking update moving the plugin’s UI to a node-based editor and adding a longish list of new node types.

System requirements
Windows 10 only. Compatible with 3ds Max 2017+. Requires a Nvidia GPU.

A new perpetual licence costs $245, down $30 from the original release.

Read a full list of changes in AqMesher 2.0 to 2.5 in the online release notes

ArtEngine 2021.15

Unity’s AI-trained software for processing PBR materials for games gets a new system for previewing output inside the Unity game engine and new texture baking, cloning and style transfer features.

New features

  • Experimental new Unity window
    Enables users to preview the output of any node in a HDRP Unity scene inside ArtEngine.
  • New Plane Generator node
    Takes the raw mesh of a 3D scan and generates an axis-aligned plane projected to the midpoint of the scan. Can be used with the Baker node as the low-poly target when baking out texture maps.
  • Revamped UI
    Introduces colour coding for executed, unexecuted and error state nodes, plus preset header and footer panels for 2D and 3D windows.

Since we last wrote about the software, ArtEngine 2021.12 added a new Style Transfer node, and ArtEngine 2021.13 added an experimental Clone Stamp node that works across all of the maps in a material.

System requirements
Windows 8.1+ only. Requires a compatible Nvidia GPU.

Rental-only, with a minimum one-year subscription term. The base edition costs $228/year. The Pro edition costs $1,140/year. The Studio edition costs $4,000/year. Compare editions.

Read a full list of new features in ArtEngine 2021.15 in the online release notes

ftrack Studio 4.9 (December 2021 update)

ftrack’s cloud-based production tracking and production management system, widely used at visual effects facilities, gets a range of workflow improvements, particularly to shot review sessions.

New features

  • A consistent review experience, whether reviewing material internally or externally
    All users who log in to an ftrack Studio review session now have full user rights, even in Client Review.
  • The ability to manually set review sessions Open or Closed
  • The ability to group by custom attribute links in the Tasks Spreadsheet
  • Improved filtering in Overview and cross-project views
  • Export data without including tasks
  • See the name of your ftrack Studio page in your browser tab

System requirements
Browser-based. System requirements for on-premises server hosting can be found here.

Starts at $30/month/user or $300/year/user.

Read an overview of the new features in ftrack Studio 4.9 on ftrack’s blog

Read a full list of new features in ftrack Studio 4.9 in the online release notes

HitFilm 2021.3

The latest update to the video editing, compositing and effects software, following a shift to annual version numbering at the start of the year, and developer FXhome’s acquisition by stock media firm Artlist.

New features (HitFilm 2021.3 Pro)

  • New Grade Clips
    Allow effects to be applied across multiple clips on the Editor timeline.
  • New Rough Edges effect
    Adds organic variation to the edges of the alpha channel of a clip.
  • New Water Caustics effect
    Procedurally generates animated patterns of reflection and refraction, to simulate looking through water.
  • New Edge Distortion effect
    Creates line boil, adding movement to the lines or edges within a clip.
  • New Pencil Sketch effect
  • Improvements to timeline caching and YouTube export

Since we last wrote about the software, HitFilm Pro 2021.2 added a new media proxy system, FBX camera import/export, support for the Blackmagic RAW format, new effects plugins, and new Page Turn transitions.

System requirements
Windows 10+, macOS 10.14+.

New perpetual licences of the Pro edition cost $349. The Express edition is a free download, with advanced features from the Pro edition available via a range of paid add-ons.

Read a full list of new features in HitFilm Pro 2021.1 to 2021.3

Read a full list of new features in HitFilm Express 2021.1 to 2021.3

Redshift 3.0.62

Maxon’s GPU production renderer for 3ds Max, Blender, Cinema 4D, Houdini and Maya continues to evolve, following the public beta of Redshift RT and the release of Redshift for Mac in 2021.

New features

  • Initial support for hair in near-real-time preview mode Redshift RT
  • Blender: support for per-light AOVs and ID matte AOVs
  • Houdini: support for instancing meshes, volumes and lights at the same time
  • Houdini: new crowds instancing technology in Solaris
  • Katana: support for Katana 5.0

System requirements
Windows 10, Linux and macOS 11.5+. Compatible with 3ds Max 2014+, Blender 2.83+, Cinema 4D R21+, Houdini 17.0+ (18.0+ on macOS), Katana 3.0v1+ and Maya 2016.5.

Now available rental-only. Individual subscriptions cost $45/month or $264/year

Read a full list of new features in Redshift 3.0.62 on Maxon’s forum (Registration required)