Imbalance releases Ragdoll Dynamics 3.0 for Maya
The update adds a neat physics-enabled character posing system that lets users pose characters as if they were physical puppets, by dragging them around in the viewport, rather than having to rely on rig controls.
In addition, Imbalance has introduced a new commercial $199 Freelancer licence, greatly reducing the cost of the software to individual artists.
Generate real-time secondary motion for cloth, hair and muscle inside Maya’s viewport
First released last year, Ragdoll Dynamics is a real-time character physics system for Maya, used at leading VFX and animation studios including Wētā FX, Sony Pictures Imageworks and DNEG.
The initial release let animators work with live physics in their character rigs, making it possible to keyframe the overall motion of a character, and have Ragdoll Dynamics add secondary motion for hair, cloth and flesh.
The software is lightweight enough to make it possible to work at 30fps, even on complex rigs, and unlike conventional simulation tools, output is deterministic, meaning that each playthrough is identical.
Subsequent updates added a ‘reverse motion capture’ system, which lets users attach Markers to a character rig and generate rigid bodies for each – the colour-coded shapes you can see in the demo videos.
It is then possible to run a simulation on the rigid bodies and ‘record’ it back to the original character rig.
Amongst its other benefits, the system makes it straightforward to blend physics with keyframe animation, with animators able to transitiion between keyframing and simulation over the course of a single movement.
Ragdoll Dynamics 3.0: Live Mode lets you pose characters by dragging them around in the viewport
To that, Ragdoll Dynamics 3.0 adds Live Mode, a new physics-based character posing system.
It enables animators to interact with characters as they would with physical puppets, posing them by dragging Markers around directly, rather than by having to pose the character using rig controls.
The softwarew handles collisions between the character and scene objects automatically, preventing objects from intersecting; and characters can also be made to ‘settle’ under gravity, turning them into literal ragdolls.
Users can also ‘mask’ markers to pin them in place, preventing the corresponding parts of the body from moving as the character is dragged around.
A faster, more intuitive way to pose characters – and one that doesn’t require a full character rig
Imbalance estimates that posing a character in Live Mode is “3x faster” than doing so with conventional rig controls – not to mention considerably more intuitive.
The workflow also applies to plain joint hierarchies, meaning that it isn’t necessary to create a full character rig in order to pose a character: the video above shows the necessary set-up being done in under a minute.
Load Physics turns Maya rigs into high-performance ‘physically based versions of themselves’
In previous versions of the software, it was possible to export the physics layer from a character rig and import it into a new scene involving the same character.
Ragdoll Dynamics 3.0 goes a step further, making it possible to import the .rag file into a blank scene.
Imbalance’s press release describes this as making it possible to “turn existing Maya rigs into physically based versions of themselves” resulting in “CPU performance jumps of 10-100x”.
Other changes: new built-in asset library and faster viewport rendering
Other new features include a built-in asset library providing 14 characters with readymade Ragdoll set-ups, including human, humanoid and animal characters, and even a tentacular alien.
The software’s viewport rendering pipeline has also been overhauled, improving the visual display of Markers, and making playback performance “2x faster”.
New Freelancer licence lets individual artists use the software commercially for $199
Imbalance has also replaced the £99 Personal licence of Ragdoll Dynamics with a $199 Freelancer licence.
It is feature-complete, and unlike the Personal licence, it can be used for commercial work, but is restricted to a single lience per person, and cannot be activated offline, or on virtual machines.
Pricing and system requiements
Ragdoll Dynamics 3.0 is compatible with Maya 2019+ on Windows, Linux and macOS. In the release notes, it is also referred to as the Ragdoll Dynamics 2022.11.29 release.
For individual artists, perpetual Freelancer licences cost $199. For studios, Complete licences cost $799 or $79/month for node-locked licences; $999 or $119/month for floating licences.
Unlimited licences, which add multi-threading support, a Python API, and advanced features like physics export, cost $1,999 or $199/month for node-locked licences; $2,999 or $299/month for floating licences.