MachStudio Pro, a virtual 3D real-time studio environment, fits into the creative pipeline after all 3D models are produced, allowing you to further add lighting, cameras, materials, compositing and finishing capabilities in a non-linear workflow.
It ships in the UK with the essential inclusion of the ATI FirePro V8750 3D workstation graphics card. This is essential because this GPU, rather than the computer CPU, is what allows you to work with an impressive real-time final rendered view of scenes. You’ll be similarly impressed by the hefty price tag, but as Studio GPU points out, it’s a lot cheaper than a full render farm.
The proprietary file (.mab) used by the software includes references to all objects, materials, textures, lights, and animations in a scene, and is used in association with GXB (encompassing model/material/rigging) and GAB (animation) files. GXBs and GABs are created when you export out of Maya, 3Ds Max, and other 3D packages – MSP can also currently import models, animation and cameras from Rhino, SketchUp Pro, Revit and ArchiCAD as well as files in the FBX format.
The camera controls are easy enough to pick up (though you can select to use Maya or 3ds max controls if you prefer) and assembling scenes is simple – if you have the assets to hand and have exported them correctly. The interface is refreshingly all on one level, with Scene Manager, Object Properties, basic timeline and the all-important Render Preferences surrounding the main viewport. Custom cameras and three light types (point, projection and environment/skylight) can be added to the scene. You can arrange a specific light or lights into lightsets that are linked to a specific object or set of objects, so that the lights only illuminate and track those objects.
Materials are another strong point, with the ability to create and apply new materials to any object in the scene. The software ships with a library of shaders, including cartoon and a couple specifically to replicate car paint, though a glitch meant we had to install the supplied Environment Maps, Projection Maps and Materials library manually. If you have the FirePro card, the software can further take advantage of hardware geometry tessellation, a sub-pixel displacement method that can rapidly increase surface detail.
Any changes you make throughout the workflow can be displayed in near-final rendering in the viewport, where a real-time HDR render mode is activated by default. You can switch to other modes (including depth buffer, shadows only and normals) using keyboard shortcuts, while an ambient occlusion pass can be switched between low, medium and custom resolution. You can also toggle multipass lighting on or off by hitting F2, or select which render passes (DOF, glow, Outline etc) are enabled or disabled in the viewport in the Camera object properties.
You can also enable stereoscopic/anaglyph output in this area. On the downside, there’s no real-time raytracing, thus limiting the output to something less than true photorealism. However what it can render it does at a very high speed and quality indeed. Almost certain to change the playing field for animation and games, as well as being particularly suited to previz projects, this solution is well worth investigating if you have the money to spare. The software is also available as a standalone product, however a GPU with similar power to the FirePro card is highly recommended.
For more information visit StudioGPU
Vital Statistics Product title and version: MachStudio Pro v1.2.15 Pricing (excluding VAT): £3,125 (Includes ATI FirePro V8750 card) Company details: StudioGPU, www.studiogpu.com UK Distributor : BlueGFX, www.bluegfx.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01483 467200 Supported operating systems: Microsoft Windows 7 /Vista Business/ XP Professional – 32 bit or 64 bit Minimum specs: Intel Pentium 4, AMD Athlon 64, or AMD Opteron processor; 2 GB RAM; 2 GB of available disk space; 1 GB DirectX 9 compliant video card