Foundry has shipped Modo 14.1, the latest version of its 3D modeling, animation and rendering software, and the second of the three linked versions that will form the Modo 14 series.
The update supports Modo's new mPath renderer with Intel's embree ray tracing library and promises performance on modern multi-core CPUs that is "damn close" to that of Nvidia RTX GPUs.
In addition to the existing denoisers AMD and Nvidia OptiX, Foundry has also integrated Intel Open Image Denoise and AMD's new AI-controlled render noise suppression systems in Modo.
Additional changes include support for vertex maps and the new Ghost and X-Ray display modes in Modo's expanded viewport, as well as other iterative updates to modeling and rigging tools.
Users will also get a new PBR texture loader and a work in progress USD importer.
Extended viewport: support for vertex maps, ghost and x-ray viewing modes
As with the latest versions of Modo 14.1, Modo 14.1 offers numerous incremental changes across the entire range of functions, making it difficult to select individual heading functions.
However, Foundry's own marketing material leads to improvements to the expanded viewport.
The AVP has support for the new Ghost and X-Ray display modes introduced in the standard viewport in Modo 14.0, as well as support for vertex maps.
This includes weight cards, heat cards for UV distortion and vertex colors. Therefore, workflows should benefit from building objects to animations and motion graphics.
Performance was also improved when models with a “large” number of shaders – over 50 according to Foundry – were processed and for certain UV and edge modeling processes.
Modeling: updates of the beveled workflow and UV relaxation as a process operation
Modeling improvements include a new auto-weld option for the polygon chamfer tool that “properly resolves” the vertex intersection, and other updates to the chamfer tool added in Modo 13.2.
The Make tool can now create a new quad polygon between two selected edges in a mesh.
In the toolset for procedural modeling, both the UV relax tool and the new unwrap and relax tool added in Modo 14.0 are now available as network operations.
The change – a request from a corporate customer of Foundry – enables users to maintain an end-to-end workflow throughout asset development.
Rigging and animation: IK / FK switching in the Planar IK solver
The rigging and animation tool sets also get iterative updates, including support for IK / FK switching in the Planar IK system added in Modo 13.2.
Users can now also disable the Planar IK and Whole Body IK Solvers after being applied to a rig, making it easier to adjust the position of each joint.
The foundry informed us that the main focus in these tool sets lately has been on improving the underlying performance. "Super complex production systems that used to be operated at 2 fps and are now very usable at 30 fps".
Other fundamental changes appear to be even further away: work to support nonlinear animation in Modo is currently being suspended.
Rendering: support for Embree in mPath as well as rendering noise on the CPU and GPU
The rendering tool sets have been significantly modified in Modo 14.1 with mPath, the new path tracer that was introduced as the "basic redesign" of the standard renderer and now supports Intel's Embree library.
It offers a faster alternative to the existing Foundry SSE Ray Tracing Engine for CPU rendering.
The foundry's digital director, Shane Griffith, described the performance as "really impressive" and "damn close" to mPath's OptiX GPU rendering engine, which runs on current-generation RTX GPUs.
The OptiX engine itself has been upgraded from OptiX 6 to OptiX 7, resulting in around 20 to 30% better performance and memory usage.
In addition, Foundry has integrated Intel's CPU-based Open Image Denoise (OIDN), which can be used to process render denoising calculations on both the CPU and the GPU.
The company describes OIDN as slower than Modo's three GPU-based denoising systems (Nvidia's OptiX and two AMD technologies, including a new AI-driven system), but delivers more reliable results.
Pipeline integration: First support for USD import, new PBR texture loader
As with other recent versions of Foundry, including Mari 4.6v4 and Nuke 12.2, Modo 14.1 is taking a first step towards native support for the USD file format, which is increasingly being adopted in VFX pipelines.
The new UsdModo plugin enables the import of geometry, curves, lights, materials and animation data in the formats .usd, .usda, .usdc and .usdz. Additional features will be available in Modo 14.2 later this year.
Other changes in pipeline integration include a new PBR texture loader that automatically loads sets of PBR texture maps generated in other DCC software and merges them into modo materials.
Pricing and availability
Modo 14.0 is available for 64-bit Windows 10, RHEL and CentOS 7.6+ Linux and MacOS 10.13+. Purchasing 14.1 gives you access to the remaining update of the Modo 14 series.
New perpetual licenses for the software cost $ 1,888. The rent is $ 62 / month or $ 629 / year.
Read an overview of the new functions in the online documentation
For a complete list of new features in Modo 14.1, see the online release notes
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