Tuesday, March 19th, 2024 Posted by Jim Thacker

Nekki releases Cascadeur 2024.1

Originally posted on 21 February 2024, and updated for the final release.

Nekki has released Cascadeur 2024.1, the new version of the AI-assisted animation app.

The update adds support for animation regargeting to the software, and an interesting new animation ‘unbaking’ system for processing mocap data.

Nekki has also changed its licensing model for the software, adding a new lower-priced Indie subscription, and increasing the price of a Pro subscription.

Create animations based on real-world physics, aided by AI-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 lets users reposition a small number of joints, and have Cascadeur take care of the rest of the body.

For a jumping character, the software 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, Collada or USD format for use in other DCC applications, or game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine.

New in Cascadeur 2024.1: unbake animations to make mocap data easily editable
Cascadeur 2024.1 introduces an interesting new feature: animation unbaking.

It converts imported animation in which each frame is a keyframe, such as unfiltered mocap data, into a set of keyframes and interpolations, making it much easier to edit.

Users can process the data automatically, or place keyframes and choose interpolation types manually for finer control.

The unbaked animation can then be edited using Cascadeur’s native tools, including using AutoPhysics to smooth unwanted noise, or to add realistic secondary motion.

Support for animation retargeting, auto-interpolation and a big update to AutoPhysics
Cascadeur 2024.1 also adds support for animation retargeting to the software, letting users transfer animation from one character to another with different bodily proportions.

According to Nekki’s blog post, the process is a simple copy-paste operation, and works with any humanoid characters.

New auto-interpolation system, and updates to AutoPhysics and AutoPosing
Other changes include an experimental auto-interpolation system intended to generate smoother animations.

In addition, AutoPhysics receives a “massive upgrade”, enabling it to be used in animations in which characters interact with the environment: for example, climbing stairs.

The workflow can be used with moving as well as static objects: the video above shows a character on a moving platform, with realistic inertia as the platform comes to rest.

AutoPosing gets new controllers for more detailed posing, including finger posing, and support for weapons and other props.

There are also a number of other workflow improvements, including the option to detach viewports: you can find a full list via the links below.

New Indie pricing, but more restrictions to the free edition
Nekki has also “completely overhauled” its licensing model for Cascadeur.

The software was previously free to individuals or teams with revenue under $100,000/year, although animation export was capped at 300 frames per scene and 120 joints per scene.

The free edition is now available to anyone, but is no longer licensed for commercial use, and saves animation in its own .casc file format, making it impossible to use in other DCC apps.

Users earning under $100,000/year can get the new $99/year Indie subscription, which is licensed for commercial use, but lacks advanced features like retargeting.

The cost of Pro subscriptions rises from $300/year to $399/year ($49/month).

Finally, the old $1,000/year Business subscription has been superseded by a Teams plan, pricing for which starts at $1,596/year for four users.

All three paid subscriptions – Indie, Pro and Teams – are rent-to-own plans, with users qualifying for a perpetual license after one year.

Nekki also plans to introduce a $39/year Educational edition for students and teachers in “a few weeks”, which will have the same features as the Pro edition.

System requirements
Cascadeur 2024.1 is available for Windows 10+, Ubuntu 20.04+ Linux and macOS 13.3+.

Read an overview of the new features in Cascadeur 2024.1 on Nekki’s blog

Read a full list of new features in Cascadeur 2024.1 in the online release notes

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