Nekki ships Cascadeur 2022.1
Nekki has released Cascadeur 2022.1, the latest version of its unusual physics-based animation software.
The update – the latest commercial Early Access release – adds a Python scripting API and a Node Editor for customising character rigs, and introduces a work-in-progress constraints system for animating weapons.
Create animations based on real-world physics, aided by machine-learning-based tools
Originally developed for use in Nekki’s own mobile title like Shadow Fight 3, Cascadeur is intended as an artist-friendly way to animate characters and creatures.
Unlike conventional animation tools, it encourages users to focus on physical properties like a character’s trajectory, angular momentum and fulcrum points like ground contacts.
Once the key poses in a move are established, the software generates a plausible-looking motion connecting them.
Even the process of generating key poses can be partially automated, via a machine-learning-trained system that tracks critical joints in a characters’ body: the neck, hips, wrists and ankles.
When one joint is repositioned manually, the software adjusts the positions of the others to match.
As well as its physics- and machine-learning-based systems, Cascadeur includes a range of more conventional rigging and animation tools, and exports to other DCC software in Collada and FBX formats.
New Node Editor and Python API for TAs
Cascadeur 2022.1 introduces two new features for technical artists: a Node Editor and a Python API.
The Node Editor enables users to customise the default Cascadeur character rig, via visual scripting.
The Python API can be used to customise Cascadeur’s functionality further, and to automate repetitive tasks.
Experimental new constraints system, and updates to AutoPosing and Animation Cycles
Other changes include the new Constraints system – currently still in alpha – which enables one object in a scene to control the position of another: for example, to parent a prop or weapon to a character.
In addition, the AutoPosing tool has been updated to a new IK-based system that generates “visibly better results”, and gets a new Direction Controller for setting a character’s line of sight.
AutoPosing controllers can also now be used with Tween Machine, Cascadeur’s pose interpolation system.
The Animation Cycles system has been updated, with users now able to time-stretch animation cycles, and cycles now moving with the corresponding part of the animation timeline.
Workflow improvements include a new Input Settings dialog for customising mouse and keyboard bindings for viewport operations; and import of DAZ Studio characters in FBX format is now “fully supported”.
Pricing and system requirements
Cascadeur 2022.1 is available for Windows 7+ and Ubuntu 20.04+ Linux.
The software is free to individuals or teams with revenue under $100,000/year, although animation export is capped at 300 frames per scene and 120 joints per scene.
Pro subscriptions have a standard price of $300/year, and remove export restrictions. Business subscriptions, which also ensure priority support, cost $1,000/year.
In both cases, after having subscribed for a year, users can continue using the software as a perpetual licence, even if they later cancel their subscription.
At the time of writing, subscriptions are available at a 50% early access discount.