Monday, March 28th, 2022 Posted by Jim Thacker

Nevercenter ships Silo 2021.5 and Milo 2021.4

Originally posted on 16 April 2021. Scroll down for news of the Silo 2021.5 and Milo 2021.4 updates.

Nevercenter has released Silo 2021, the first major update to its lightweight modelling software in years.

The release adds support for blendshapes, variable Sub-D edge creasing – and Milo, a new standalone real-time render engine and VR viewer based on Unreal Engine.

A lightweight sub-D modeller remembered fondly by many older 3D artists
First released in 2003, Silo built up a reputation as an efficient, focused modelling package.

It has a streamlined set of polygonal and subdivision surface modelling tools, a topology brush for drawing new topology over a reference object, and interactive real-time UV unwrapping.

As well as creating low-poly assets for games or real-time applications, it can be used to rough out base models for sculpting in ZBrush, and supports Pixologic’s GoZ bridge system.

However, development stalled around a decade ago, with Nevercenter focusing on its photography apps.

Although there were a trickle of releases throughout the 2010s, Silo 2021 is the first update to the software in more than two years, and the first major update for much longer than that.

Silo 2021: support for blendshapes and variable Sub-D edge creasing
New features in the core application include blendshape support. Users can blend between facial shapes via control sliders, with a choice of blending modes.

The update also introduces support for variable Sub-D edge creasing.

Other changes include “new UV unwrapping methods” and an “improved numberical editor”, although we can’t find much more detail than that in either the release notes or the online manual.

Milo: new real-time renderer and VR model viewer based on Unreal Engine
However, the major change in the release is Milo, a new standalone real-time renderer and VR viewer based on Unreal Engine, bundled free in early access with new purchases.

It has been in development since 2019, partly funded by money from Epic Games’ MegaGrants program.

Although you can import models in FBX format, its main use is likely to be as a viewer for assets being created in Silo itself: saving a scene in Silo automatically updates the render inside Milo.

It supports PBR materials, comes with a set of readymade lighting rigs, and can export turntables of models as animated GIFs.

Updated 8 July 2021: Nevercenter has released Silo 2021.1 and Milo 2021.1.

Milo 2021.1 is the bigger of the two updates, since it introduces initial support for one of Unreal Engine’s most talked-about new features: hardware-accelerated ray tracing on Nvidia RTX GPUs.

The implementation is still a work in progress, and is intended for viewport previews, not final rendering.

It is also now possible to switch between daytime and nighttime skies in the Sky background.

Silo 2021.1, which shipped in May, is primarily a bugfix and performance update, but it adds support for universal rotation values in the numerical editor.

Updated 31 August 2021: Nevercenter has released Silo 2021.2 and Milo 2021.2.

Milo 2021.2 introduces a new ‘live turntable’ feature, which causes Milo to rotate a 3D model in the viewport in real time, in addition to the existing option to export a rendered turntable.

Support for high-DPI displays has also been improved, with the resolution of UI icons increased, and the option to set pixel scale to trade frame rate against visual quality when working on a high-resolution monitor.

The software also now saves key settings between sessions, and render quality has “dramatically” improved.

Silo 2021.2 adds a new option to repeat objects to create chains, and to select coplanar faces in meshes.

Updated 19 October 2021: Nevercenter has released Silo 2021.3 and Milo 2021.3.

Silo 2021.3 adds a new Array Replicator, which generates a 3D array of instanced objects from a source model or group of models, with the option to randomise instance position, rotation and scale.

It is also possible to randomise blendshapes, an option shown in use in the video above to generate an entire stand of trees of varying forms from a single source model.

Milo 2021.3 adds a new adjustable depth of field system: users can click in the viewport to set the focal depth for the render, as shown in the image above.

The update also adds support for wireframe rendering, with standard options to set the colour, width and opacity of the wires, and for alpha channels in textures: for example, when rendering clip-mapped foliage.

Updated 12 December 2021: Nevercenter has released Silo 2021.4 and Milo 2021.4.

The update improves materials workflow in Silo, with a new option to remove unused or duplicate materials from scenes, and texture maps now automatically reloading when updated in an external application.

There are also a number of new geometry selection options, shown in this video.

Milo 2021.4 adds a new volumetric cloud system to the Sky background environment, controlled by a single Remix Environment slider to randomise the look of the clouds.

There is also a new Line Art background for generating flat shaded and wireframe renders.

Updated 28 March 2022: Nevercenter has released Silo 2021.5.

The update adds support for importing vector graphics in SVG format, with imported vectors extruded to generate 3D geometry. The workflow is shown in the video above to generate a 3D logo.

Pricing and availability
Silo amd Milo are both available for Windows 10 and macOS 10.14.6+. The price of Silo has risen slightly since the previous release, to $149, which also includes the early access release of Milo.

Read a full list of new features in Silo 2021.5 and Milo 2021.4 in Nevercenter’s release notes

Read more about Silo and Milo on Nevercenter’s product website