Friday, May 19th, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Nekki releases Cascadeur 2023.1

Nekki has released Cascadeur 2023.1, the latest version of its physics-based character animation tool.

It’s a significant update, introducing an experimental new video motion-capture system, a new macOS edition, and radically reworking the UI.

Users with paid subscriptions also get an AI-assisted Finger AutoPosing system, making it easier to pose a character’s hands in natural-looking positions.

Create animations based on real-world physics, aided by machine-learning-based tools
Launched in 2019, Cascadeur is intended as an artist-friendly alternative to conventional animation software for game development, motion graphics or visual effects work.

Although it has standard tools for rigging, posing and animating characters, its unique selling point is a set of AI-assisted, semi-automated toolsets.

Key poses can be quickly established for a character via the AutoPosing system, which enables users to reposition a small number of joints, and have the software take care of the rest of the body.

For a jumping character, Cascadeur can then calculate a physically correct trajectory between the key poses.

For other types of motion, a separate AI-trained system, AutoPhysics, converts an existing keyframe animation into a physically accurate version of itself.

Once generated, animations may be exported the FBX or Collada format – the online documentation has information on how to import the data into Unreal Engine and Unity – or directly to Daz Studio.

New in Cascadeur 2023.1: AI video mocap
Key changes in Cascadeur 2023.1 include an experimental new video mocap system.

Users can import still images or video of an actor and have Cascadeur detect their key body poses and automatically transfer them to a 3D character.

The feature is still in alpha, and is still “very slow”, although Nekki expects performance to improve.

Reworked UI and new macOS edition
The UI gets a “massive update”, with changes including the addition of Timeline Settings to the Scene Settings panel, and the option to launch Track Stretching Mode from the timeline.

There is also a new Control Picker panel (shown above) for quickly selecting parts of the character rig, like the limbs, body or head.

In addition, Cascadeur now runs on macOS as well as Windows and Linux. The macOS edition is still officially in beta, and requires a current Mac with an Apple Silicon M1 or M2 processor.

Paid subscriptions only: AI-assisted Finger AutoPosing
Users with paid Pro or Business subscriptions also get Finger AutoPosing.

The feature extends the AutoPosing system from full-body poses to hands: when a user repositions a finger, Cascadeur automatically adjusts the entire hand to make the pose look natural.

Pricing and system requirements
Cascadeur 2023.1 is available for Windows 10+, Ubuntu 20.04+ Linux and macOS 13.0+.

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 cost $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.

Read an overview of the new features in Cascadeur 2023.1 on Nekki’s blog

Read a full list of new features in Cascadeur 2023.1 in the online changelog

Editor’s note: in the light of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, readers may wish to know that Nekki’s development teams are located in Russia, although the company is headquartered in Cyprus.