LOS ANGELES — 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 (CG) 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, PipelineTD, 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.
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.
Image of whale character going from Maya to Max with XMesh; courtesy of Bryan Thombs.