Issue: Volume 40 Issue 1: (Jan/Feb 2017)




Panel Assembly Made Simple

Mekajiki has released Boardfish, a stand-alone page layout application for storyboarding. A native OSX application, Boardfish assembles panels into a professional storyboard layout that can be easily edited and customized. Developed as an in-house tool at Swordfish, Boardfish is the first tool being productized through Mekajiki, Swordfish’s sister company. With Boardfish, users can drag and drop images to instantly create boards, positioning up to four captions per panel on any side of the image. Panels can be rearranged, deleted, or hidden with automatic animated reflowing. Users control page size/orientation, panel layout, panel spacing, fonts, and colors. Custom layouts can be saved into preset templates and exported to PDF format or printed directly from Boardfish. 

3D Painting

Introducing Mari 3.2
The Foundry has released Mari 3.2, the latest version of its high-resolution 3D painting tool. Version 3.2 has an enhanced node graph that now offers many workflow enhancements, including a familiar left-to-right layout option, intuitive navigation, configurable shortcuts, and zoom-dependent level of detail. Users can now improve performance by freeing up space on their GPU with new nondestructive bake point nodes that convert all upstream nodes, including procedurals, to textures. The connected mesh selection feature allows users to easily select an independent island of polygons within a single mesh by extending any face selection to all connected faces. And with OpenEXR 2.2 support, which includes DWA lossy compression, UDIM texture maps can be much smaller files without noticeable degradation in quality.


Mental Ray

Mental Ray for Free
Now the Nvidia Mental Ray renderer enjoyed by Maya users is available directly from Nvidia – for free. Artists can use Mental Ray within Maya to craft scenes and render individual frames at any resolution, using any supported processor within a machine.

Nvidia Mental Ray is backward compatible for scenes from earlier Maya versions. It’s also able to output .mi files to feed production pipelines. A Mental Ray license will only be required for production rendering – which is complimentary for universities, and as little as $65/machine/year for commercial use. Users get final-frame rendering in the interactive Maya viewport, progressive rendering, MDL material support, and new global illumination (GI-Next). The GPU acceleration for GI-Next can slash a one-hour render to five minutes with an Nvidia Quadro P6000 graphics card alongside a 14-core CPU. Nvidia will be supplying the latest Mental Ray and workflow enhancements to multiple Maya versions, starting with Maya 2016 and 2017 on Windows, Linux, and MacOS. Floating licenses are $295 or $995 for a five-pack, while systems containing a professional Nvidia GPU qualify for special pricing of $95 or $325 for a five-pack.



HP Mini Z

Mini Z
HP recently unveiled the first mini workstation, the HP Z2 Mini, measuring 2.3 inches high – 90 percent smaller than a traditional business-class tower – while delivering the power and performance required by users in compute-intensive industries. The octagon-shaped HP Z2 Mini Workstation is twice as powerful as any commercial mini PC on the market today and has the ability to support six displays right out of the box. The workstation, running Windows 10 Pro or Linux, comes equipped with next-generation Intel Xeon processors, Nvidia professional graphics, and the availability of HP Z Turbo Drive. The HP Z2 Mini Workstation is available now starting at $699.

Head-Mounted Display

FOVE it!

FOVE, creators of the first eye--tracking VR headset, is shipping its HMD, FOVE 0, to Kickstarter backers and VR enthusiasts following a pre-order campaign launched last fall. FOVE fully supports SteamVR, the open-source platform championed by Valve. Users can play over 250 titles that are currently available on the Steam distribution service. FOVE does not currently support VIVE’s Lighthouse tracking system, so the headset will ship with its own position tracking camera and an extra foam faceplate for comfort. The device is listed for $599.