Thinkbox Software has released XMesh MY, a geometry caching plug-in for Autodesk Maya. Designed to streamline animation and visual effects production pipelines, XMesh is a set of tools for saving animated scene geometry in a condensed format that yields smaller files for faster loading, manipulation and sharing across facilities and applications. Also compatible with Autodesk 3ds Max, the robust and scalable multi-threaded solution allows artists to quickly open, share or receive computer generated assets from internal studio departments or external facilities.
"XMesh is the backbone of the interchange pipeline between 3ds Max and Maya at ScanlineVFX. It is fast, solid and the open structure allows the seamless integration into our pipeline," said Christian Deiss, pipeline technical director, ScanlineVFX.
Key features of XMesh include:
Accelerated Loading: By saving multiple animated meshes as a single entity, XMesh loads files orders of magnitude faster.
Minimized Disk Space Usage: For each frame, XMesh saves multiple files - an XML header file referencing data channels and a compressed binary file per channel for optimizing disk space usage. Furthermore, unchanging channel data is saved once and can be referenced by later frames without duplication.
Enhanced Multi-Core Performance: Each data channel is saved and loaded in a separate thread to provide advanced performance on multi-core machines.
Parallel Saving: By allowing the same animated sequence to be saved on multiple network nodes, XMesh enables heavy scenes to be cached orders of magnitude faster.
Quick Playback: With support for optional alternative mesh representation in the viewport, XMesh can play back files even faster via a low-resolution proxy file sequence. Viewport display modes that read only a fraction of data from disk - including bounding box, vertex cloud with percentage option and percentage of faces - further boost performance.
Easy Information Transfer: XMesh preserves per-face material assignment information and supports the conversion of Maya edge smoothing information into 3ds Max smoothing groups and vice versa, which provides an alternative to storing explicit normals.
"You can't put a price on something that makes life much easier," noted Will Wallace, senior FX rrtist, Hydraulx. "XMesh made things easy and did it right. We were able to bring objects in and out between packages with no worries. What XMesh can cache is mind blowing."
"I used XMesh on the Hellraiser: Origins teaser recently, and loved it," added Joël LeLièvre, CG generalist/FX artist, Delicate Machines. "It offered a robust, yet controllable approach to creating hundreds of digital extras in 3ds Max that would not have been possible without it. XMesh provided a caching system that allowed me to create over 600 animated characters in a matter of hours. XMesh is a beast."
"Our artist-driven tools are designed to be as efficient and as flexible as possible, which frees the artist to focus on what they do best - create stunning visuals. XMesh continues this legacy by improving loading, saving and viewport performance," said Chris Bond, founder, Thinkbox Software. "Tasks that formerly took hours or minutes now take minutes or seconds, gains that multiply dramatically over the course of a job and allow artists to work more efficiently within Maya. Cross-platform support for 3ds Max means also makes it easy for artists to share files with other packages, facilities and within studios."
XMesh MY supports Linux, OSX and Windows 64-bit operating systems and works with versions of Maya from 2011 through Maya 2014.Independent of the XMesh saver, the XMesh loader allows for free viewing and rendering of data. The XMesh saver license can be applied interchangeably to either Maya or 3ds Max. A version of the XMesh loader for The Foundry's NUKE is currently in Beta.
To request an XMesh evaluation license visit: http://xmesh.thinkboxsoftware.com/
Thinkbox Software www.thinkboxsoftware.com