This Macworld CAD industry giant Autodesk announced a series of new products for the Mac. We’ve written briefly about this in earlier reports. In this multi-page report we cover these product announcements in far more detail. We’ll start with what we think is the best new Mac product from Autodesk or at least the one we think is the most fun application: Mudbox 2009.
Autodesk Mudbox 2009 for Mac
In our Autodesk press briefing we spoke with Rob Hoffmann, Senior Product Marketing Manager, 3D, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. If that name sounds familiar to you readers it should, we last spoke with Rob about Maya on the Mac when he was with Alias.
Before we talk about Mudbox 2009 in some detail let’s explain some of its history. Rob stated that Mudbox was originally a Weta Digital in-house tool created for the Lord of the Rings films. The New Zealand digital visual effects company is well known for some other in-house proprietary software, perhaps the best known of which is MASSIVE.
Mudbox then went out of house to a company (Skymatter) that was subsequently acquired by Autodesk. Autodesk unveiled Mudbox 2009 at SIGGRAPH in the summer of 2008. During SIGGRAPH only the Windows versions were announced but Mac development was underway.
As can be seen above Autodesk Mudbox 2009 is a real native Mac OS X application. The product was demoed for us on the Mac (see lower photos) and looks and runs fantastic.
Mudbox 2009 is a digital sculpting program, which includes a toolset that the company describes as having “tools for extreme detailing of digital characters and objects.” Rob Hoffmann said its strength is in its extremely dense tessellation capabilities.
Mudbox strength lies in its intuitive user-interface combining sophisticated and powerful tools for creating the most highly detailed 3D models imaginable. Optimized for performance Mudbox 2009 can maintain great model interactivity while working on very high-resolution meshes, including those with tens of millions of polygons across the entire mesh.
Mudbox 2009 includes rendering technologies that leverage the power of the OpenGL application programming interface (API) on today’s powerful graphics cards. The software offers an accurate, on-target environment for real-time evaluation as the digital model is manipulated by the artist, greatly improving interactivity for directors and client presentations.
Dan Platt, modeler at Disney Animation Studios, said, “Time is money. An Autodesk Mudbox session begins with its artist-friendly, intuitive interface. This is sculpting at the speed of thought with the greatest of fidelity. In a business where new ideas with impossible deadlines are commonplace, Mudbox never lets me down.”
The image above and below were snapped on an iPhone during our Autodesk press briefing, the day before the Macworld Expo keynote. Mudbox 2009 Mac was running very smoothly on a Mac Pro workstation machine.
As you can see from the images the interface is fairly clean and straight-forward. Texturing painting starts with a more basic shape and through a series of manipulative 3D brushes an artist can alter the model further into increasing degrees of resolution.
Autodesk Mudbox 2009 for Mac will be available, like the other new Mac products announced by Autodesk, within 60-90 days from Macworld Expo. Architosh will be sure to post news on their eventual availability.
To learn more now please visit the Autodesk Mudbox 2009 webpage here.