Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Foundry unveils big changes to Modo development

Foundry has announced a series of changes to the development of Modo, its 3D modelling and rendering software, including an expanded dev team, a switch to one major release a year, and a broader market focus.

mPath, the software’s ray tracing renderer, is being superseded, and its principal developer, former Foundry head of rendering Allen Hastings has left the company, along with veteran Modo developer Joe Angell.

The changes were announced by Modo product manager Greg Brown during a livestream on ‘official unofficial’ Modo YouTube channel Modo Geeks TV, the recording of which is embedded above.

Dev team now working on Modo alone, rather than across three products
Modo previously formed part of Foundry’s Enterprise Design group of products, along with Colorway, its tool for generating and visualising variations of product designs, and an upcoming third design-specific product.

Foundry has now stopped development of Colorway and the still unnamed third product, with the dev team – previously split across the three products – now working on Modo alone.

“For Modo users this is in itself a good thing,” commented Brown. “We still have the same number of engineers, and actually more QA [testers], now working on Modo and Modo only.”

Now focused on ‘Modo for everyone’ rather than specific industry sectors
The changes suggest a broader target audience for Modo, which in recent releases had seemed to be moving away from its origins in game development and VFX and becoming increasingly focused on product design – specifically shoe design, since its major users include Nike and New Balance.

Brown described the current strategy as ‘Modo for everyone’, commenting that “focusing on a specific industry isn’t the direction that 3D is going”.

“All of the people we worked with in design are customers we care about [but to best cater to the needs of users] you just need to to make an application that is high-performance, stable [and] reliable”.

mPath ‘put aside for now’ in favour of better support for external renderers
The changes also see the departure of two veteran Modo developers: Allen Hastings and Joe Angell.

Hastings co-founded Luxology, Modo’s original developer, becoming Foundry’s head of rendering when the firms merged in 2012, while Angell had also worked on Modo since its inception, developing its UI system.

The departures seem to have been amicable, with both Hastings and Angell appearing on the livestream.

However, one of Hastings’ recent development projects, Modo’s mPath renderer, is being superseded, just three years after it was introduced, with Brown commenting that “mPath is being put aside for now”.

While Foundry has not yet decided on a new native renderer, its current strategy involves developing a new API that will enable Modo to connect more easily to external renderers

During the livestream, Foundry senior software engineer Giorge Koulin said that the eventual aim is to implement support for Hydra, the USD rendering framework, to unify viewport and final-quality rendering.

No timescale was announced for the changeover, which was described as “not a super-quick short project”.

Moving to one major release per year with Modo 17
Other changes announced on the livestream include a switch from multiple numbered updates to Modo each year – already recently reduced from three to two – to “one big official marketed release per year”.

The major release will happen during the summertime – presumably starting with Modo 17 this year, if Foundry sticks to its current version numbering.

Foundry aims to supplement the main release with incremental updates in which the entire dev team focuses on specific features “in an agile way”, although Brown noted that this will not necessarily happen this year.

Read more about Modo on Foundry’s website