Thursday, February 2nd, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Mercenaries Engineering releases Rumba 1.2

Guerilla Render developer Mercenaries Engineering has released Rumba 1.2, the latest version of its Maya-compatible character animation software for visual effects and feature animation work.

There have actually been several 1.2.x releases, with last week’s Rumba 1.2.2 adding the option to group animation layers, and to animate controllers in different layers without having to switch between them.

Previous updates added new deformation tools, including a brush-based sculpt tool and a sticky deformer.

Removing the creative stumbling blocks from character animation
First released in 2020, Rumba is pitched as “the best professional 3D animation solution on the market”.

The software is intended to remove traditional creative stumbling blocks from animation work, enabling animators to work directly on a character without the need to do any unnecessary technical set-up.

Its novel features include the option to pose characters directly by manipulating their geometry, rather than a control rig: a workflow previously available mainly in the in-house tools of big animation studios.

Animators can also work on multiple poses in parallel, via an onion-skinned view that displays a character at successive frames of the animation simultaneously.

The software is designed to integrate with traditional Maya pipelines, with artists rigging characters in Maya, then exporting them to Rumba via the accompanying mtorba plugin.

Rumba 1.2: new animation layer workflow, and neat new deformation tools
The Rumba 1.2 releases overhaul animation layer workflow, with last week’s Rumba 1.2.2 introducing support for layer grouping, and the option to make layers editable or non-editable.

The latter change removes the concept of an active layer from the software, making it possible to animate controllers in different layers without having to switch between them.

Rumba projects can also now use a relative file path to a Rumba project directory, reducing the chance of broken links to external assets like character rigs and textures.

Features added in previous 1.2.x releases include new deformation tools designed for animators, including the sticky deformer shown in the video above, and a brush-based sculpt tool.

Both make it possible to set up keyframable deformations that follow the character rig, making it possible to fix artefacts in an animation, or even to modify a character directly inside Rumba.

Other changes include support for FK/IK switching, and for writing plugins in Python, although the latter are currently single-threaded and are “drastically slower” than those written in C++.

Updated 12 February 2022: Mercenaries Engineering has released Rumba 1.2.4.

The latest update adds the option to export Maya camera rigs to Rumba as regular assets, and makes it possible to reimport a Rumba animation back into Maya, reusing the existing Maya assets.

Pricing and system requirements
Rumba 1.2 is available for Windows 10+ and glibc 2.17+ Linux.

The software is rental-only, with Freelance licences – restricted to one per facility or project – costing €200/year (around $220/year) and Studio licences costing €600/year ($660/year).

If you want to try before you buy, Mercenaries Engineering also provides free, fully featured Enthusiast and Education licences, for non-commercial use only.

Read a full list of new features in Rumba 1.2 in the online release notes

Read an overview of Rumba on the product website