Issue: Volume: 23 Issue: 8 (August 2000)

Spotlight: Jig Renders Hair and Much More

Steamboat Software president Rev Lebaredian, a former special effects technician working on films (as a software engineer for DreamQuest Images, he wrote the gorilla hair renderer for Mighty Joe Young), was inspired to create Jig by his perceived need for a renderer that was more open and extensible than others in use at production houses. Jig is designed to fit into any stage, or many stages, of a production pipeline with the use of Perl (an industry standard scripting language) scripts written by users. And Jig's open C++ plug-in system makes it possible for users to easily add new shaders, maps, surfaces, displacements, volume objects, and image processes to the program.

Jig is also a standalone application that can link to any program. Currently, ready-made exporters are available from Steamboat for Maya or Houdini particles. Development is planned for additional exporters, but Jig's open API also makes it possible for technical personnel to write an exporter to any package.

At The Secret Lab in California, CG supervisor Charles Anderson used Jig to create a high-velocity volumetric gas for about 40 shots in the film Gone in 60 Seconds. "It needed to look realistic," says Anderson, "and Jig worked great."

Jig runs on Linux, Irix, and NT systems, with 256mb of RAM recommended. The program, including a C++ compiler, exporters, and one year of support, costs $1550 for a one-CPU license. A one-year unlimited site license, including support, costs $78,750.

(Steamboat Software; Los Angeles; 323-665-0454;