Katana 3.6 Updates Material Editing, Ships with 3Delight NSI 2.0
Image by Owen Frankland, Katana Senior OA, robot from Aaron Sims Creative
Foundry Katana version 3.6 updates the application’s UI and workflow for artists, with snapping functionality that thsat helps speed up tasks like light placement. It is the first version incorporating the changes in 3Delight NSI 2.0, the render engine that ships with Katana, including a toon shading toolset, redesigned live rendering and new texturing tools.
Network Material Editing
The Network Material Edit node, NME, creates procedural edits of existing network materials in order to change or fix an asset, even during shot production. Editing may range from minor tweaks, to complete new sections of node graph, allowing procedural edits per shot.
NME replaces two tools – NetworkMaterialParameterEdit and NetworkMaterialSplice. Artists see the same material network, but the unedited nodes start off dimmed in the UI, and change to yellow as they are edited. Any new nodes are marked green. Any node can be deleted in the meantime, and sections of the network can be rewired. Finally, disabling the NME disables all edits.
Snapping Tools to Light Models
Robust Snapping tools encompass 10 different snapping modes aligned to model vertices, edge, face, surface and so on. UI settings are customisable for user feedback for specific modes like ‘surface using normals snapping’ or ‘object origin snapping’. Using the axis handles of the transform tools allows snapping aligned to a single axis.
Snapping makes light placement and layout fixes more intuitive for the artist, even on very dense meshes. Artists can see precisely what objects are being considered. As well as the cursor hit area display, visual clues include automatic wireframes displayed over shaded models, outlines around objects, and face and edge highlighting.
Using Snap Tools for lighting placement
UI Configuration Widgets
Dockable widgets make Katana’s UI more flexible by allowing you to arrange the panes in lots of different configurations with tabs presenting different information such as the scene graph tab, the node graph, the parameters and the Hydra Viewer. Any tab can be made full screen, any UI layout can be saved as a preset, including the floating panes, and the tabs can be docked in designated areas.
Dockable widgets are especially useful when applied to look development and lighting workflows using the Viewer’s Monitor Layer as a full screen tab. They also form the basis of further improvements coming in future Katana updates.
Workflows for some tasks need part of Katana’s UI to be used full screen, but other tabs need to be accessible at the same time. Using the dockable areas, you can set up optimised workflows in which important UI tabs like the Parameters Tab are still available when the Viewer Tab or Node Graph Tab are full screen.
3Delight Live Render and Toon Shader
3Delight NSI 2.0 ships with Katana 3.6 and has a new live rendering algorithm with better artist feedback. It also has new flexible toon shading that works in live renders and uses Katana’s procedural look development and sequence based lighting workflows. These new tools create clean toon lines and have production-ready standard, toon and custom AOVs for specific 2D looks. They have options for control over lines and shading, refined AOVs for adjusting 2D looks in Nuke, and ways to blend PBR shading with toon shading.
3Delight NSI 2.0 has three new texturing tools as well – dlTriplanar, dlTexture and dlUV. DlTriplanar helps file textures look better with procedural tile removal and height based blending. To this, the dlTexture node adds functions like the normalisation of texture values, enhancing the use of texture map libraries in standardised material networks. The dlUV node combines regular 2D placement with control over UVsets and other functions supporting the dlTriplanar and dlTexture nodes.
Jordan Thistlewood, Director of Product - Pre-production, Look Development & Lighting at Foundry said that the company continues to develop Katana as a digital cinematography platform and that tools like Snapping are the basis of other similar tools coming in the future. The new Network Material Edit tool is also an example of UX changes that help artists manage complex productions. www.foundry.com