Monday, March 4th, 2024 Posted by Jim Thacker

Foundry ships Modo 17.0

Foundry has released Modo 17.0, the latest version of its 3D modelling and rendering software.

The release, described as the “beginning of a new Modo”, features major structural changes to the app, improving performance when modeling, manipulating rigs and playing back animation.

Mac users get a long-awaited Apple Silicon edition, improving performance on current Macs.

Modo also now ships with the Prime edtion of its OctaneRender plugin, making it possible to use the GPU renderer for free on a single GPU on Windows and Linux as well as macOS.

The first visible product of Foundry’s new ‘Modo for everyone’ development strategy
Modo 17.0 is the first update to the software in over a year, and follows Foundry’s announcement of a major change of development strategy early in 2023.

Foundry says that it “sets the stage” for future releases, bringing “deep architectural changes”.

The firm now aims to return to a schedule of three major releases per year, so Modo 17.0 will be the first of three updates in the Modo 17 Series.

New system of View Objects improves rig evaluation and animation playback
Foundry’s marketing material for Modo 17.0 focuses on performance first, new features second.

Under the hood, key changes include a new system of View Objects (VOs), which allows for multi-threading when drawing to the OpenGL viewports, with buffers for the drawing being generated in background threads, then provided to the OpenGL draw calls when ready.

The change should improve viewport interactivity, particularly when playing back animation or evaluating complex rigs, with the launch video showing increases in frame rates from 3-7x.

In Modo 17.0, the software can use two threads at once, but future updates “should allow for multiple background threads”.

Incremental code path improves performance of key 3D modeling tools
In addition, Modo’s modeling tools are being rewritten to follow a faster “incremental code path” for operations that do not create geometry, such as moving vertex positions.

The change currently applies to 10 modeling tools and MeshOps, including Polygon Extrude, edge tools, and the Clone Effector, plus UV Unwrap.

According to the launch video, speed improvements can be “as high as 30x for individual tools”, although most of the examples in the video show speed boosts of around 3-10x.

Long-awaited new native Apple Silicon edition for Mac users
For Mac users, Modo 17.0 also features a new Apple Silicon build, bringing “up to 50% speed improvements” on current Macs with ARM-based M1, M2 and M3 processors.

Modo is one of the last major DCC applications to get native Apple Silicon support, and its development doesn’t seem to have been entirely straightforward.

Some features are unavailable in new version “due to third-party technology not being compatible with Mac ARM”, including the IKinema full-body IK and AxF material libraries.

Users needing the features affected, which include the Pose Tool and animation retargeting, are being advised to use the old Intel build, which runs on current Macs using Rosetta emulation.

Plugins without ARM support will also require the Intel build.

Foundry will update its own NPR kit to support ARM processors during the Modo 17 Series of releases, and is “investigating solutions” for key third-party CAD import/export tools like nPower Software’s Power Translators and Power SubD-NURBS plugins.

Free Prime edition of the OctaneRender integration now bundled with the software
Another key change that Foundry announced last year was the mothballing of Modo’s mPath renderer in favor of a new API to connect the software more easily to external renderers.

Modo 17.0 now ships with the Prime edition of its OctaneRender integration plugin, making it possible to use the GPU renderer for free on a single GPU on Windows and Linux in addition to Otoy’s existing macOS trial edition.

Network rendering and rendering on multiple GPUs require a paid Studio+ subscription.

Modo is the latest DCC application to ship with OctaneRender Prime, following LightWave Digital’s bundling of its own Octane integration with LightWave 2023 last year.

Updates to the Advanced Viewport and modeling tools
Updates to existing features include improvements to the Advanced Viewport display mode.

Users can now toggle viewport textures without the need to use the Shader Tree, and environment lighting has been decoupled from scene lighting.

Changes to modeling tools include support for falloffs in the new PolyHaul tool, support for clones and rounded corners in Primitive Slice, and for partial circles in Radial Align.

The Mesh Cleanup system gets a new Fix Gaps option for meshes with co-linear vertices.

You can find a complete list of workflow and UX improvements via the links below.

Pricing and availability
Modo 17.0 is available for 64-bit Windows 10+, Rocky Linux 9, and macOS 12.0+.

Foundry stopped selling new perpetual licences of Modo in 2021, though maintenance contracts are still available for users with existing perpetual licences.

Individual subscriptions now cost $89/month or $719/year, up $18/month since the previous release. Studio subscriptions are priced on enquiry.

Read an overview of new features in Modo on Foundry’s website

Read a full list of new features in Modo 17.0 in the online release notes

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