Foundry announced Katana 4.0, a major update to its lighting and look development software.
Changes include a new, artist-focused lighting mode, inspired by traditional cinematography, and Foresight Rendering, which supports multiple simultaneous renderings and networked interactive rendering.
The version also extends Katana's support for USD-based workflows by adding USD material export and supporting lights with shadows and USD Preview Surface materials in the Hydra viewer.
New artist-friendly lighting mode based on real cinematography workflows
A major change in Katana 4.0 is the new "artist-focused" lighting system that allows users to illuminate CG scenes through workflows that are more like traditional cinematography.
Among other things, users can now illuminate scenes by clicking directly on the surfaces of the objects. Katana then automatically creates a light that illuminates that point on the surface.
There are also new workflows for editing lights once they're created, as well as new tools for cloning or duplicating lights, or creating a light at a camera position.
We covered the toolset when Foundry previewed it at Siggraph. Please see this story for more information.
Support for multiple simultaneous renderings and networked interactive rendering
Another major change in Katana 4.0 is what Foundry calls "Foresight Rendering".
It is intended to make it easier for artists to work with multiple renderings in katana: For example, comparative renderings of material variations for an asset or lighting variations for a scene or renderings from several recordings.
There are two key components: multiple simultaneous renderings and networked interactive rendering.
The former allows users to start new renders without having to wait for existing renders to complete. A recommended workflow is to use an interactive live rendering session to examine variations for lights and materials, and then start a new preview rendering every time you encounter a promising look.
Simultaneous rendering can be done either on an artist's own workstation or on a render farm: Version 4.0 of the software includes Katana Queue, a new lightweight integrated render queuing system.
Even interactive rendering sessions can now be run in a farm, not just static previews or final quality renderings.
To make it easier to manage and compare renderings, a UI update is also being updated on the Katana Catalog tab that allows thumbnail images to be dynamically resized. The thumbnails are also automatically updated when rendering.
Extended support for USD-based workflows
Katana 4.0 extends support for workflows based on the USD (Universal Scene Description) framework and is becoming increasingly important in VFX and feature animation pipelines.
Users can now bake materials and their mappings to USD files so that deviating materials can be applied as override layers for an asset or scene.
The update also implements a new Katana scene delegate who handles communication between Katana and renders delegates in the software's Hydra Viewer.
According to the Foundry, this enables “more robust use” of the functions of the standard HdStorm delegate, B. Lights with Shadows and USD Preview Surface Materials for Assets ”.
New image-based selection workflow in the Hydra Viewer
Another nice change to the Hydra Viewer is the image-based selection, which allows scene objects to be selected directly from the render ID buffer.
Instead of waiting for an entire scene to load before starting work, users can start with an image from a previous work session and then make selections to determine which geometry Katana loads.
The Hydra Viewer is also getting a new rendering system for the region of interest shown in the video above.
Pricing and system requirements
Katana 4.0 is available for Windows 7+ and CentOS / RHEL 6 Linux.
Interactive licenses, which include a 3Delight interactive rendering license and which previously cost $ 9,458, are now listed as "Request a Callback". We contacted Foundry to see if the price had changed.
Foundry has also introduced a new render license, which is required to render from the command line or to "Unlock Katana's Foresight Rendering Power." We reached out to Foundry again to check the price.
Read an overview of Katana 4.0 on the Foundry product website
For a full list of what's new in Katana 4.0, see the online release notes
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