Following the company’s quiet reorganization over the last couple of years, Massive Software  re-emerged in full force at last week’s SIGGRAPH conference and exhibition in Los Angeles, announcing the 5.0 version of its crowd and autonomous character animation systems with new modeless manipulator, scrubbing, 3D lanes, and improved Agent Fields (plus a surprising Autodesk 3ds Max plug-in).
Here’s the full press release from Massive:
Faster. Even though Massive is orders of magnitude more efficient than some other animation software, 5.0 introduces new technology that enables simulations to run up to 3.9 times faster again on typical workstation PC's. Simulations that might have taken hours before can now be done in minutes, and scenes of a few hundred agents can even run in realtime.
More interactive. One of the many improvements to interactivity in Massive 5.0 is the new patent pending 3D manipulator.
“Other applications mostly have the usual 3D manipulator but we wanted to do something better, easy to use and requiring no complicated key switches. So we came up with a design that utilises screen space better, is easier to handle and doesn't slowdown the user with key switches for selecting modes,” says CEO Stephen Regelous.
Also as an aid to interactivity is the new scrubbing and transport control interface. Previously, users would write out image sequences to be able to review the results of large simulations, but the new scrubbing technology allows for immediately visiting any frame in a huge simulation of many thousands of agents. Quickly scrubbing through simulations allows users to easily review details of epic scenes from any camera angle. This new feature also works with cloth and hair simulations, and handles spawning and deletion of agents during the simulation.
Agent Fields improvements. Introduced in Massive 3.5, Agent Fields has proven to be a very successful hybrid of particle animation and AI functionality, especially useful for interaction between neighboring agents. Massive 5.0 extends this functionality with group behavior parameters, field offsets and several other improvements inspired by user feedback.
Placement improvements. The placement editing in Massive has received significant upgrades. Maintaining consistency of crowd variation throughout continuous revisions of placement has always been challenging. Massive 5.0 takes a new approach to solving this problem which provides much more consistent crowd variation, unaffected by significant changes in crowd layout. The new 3D manipulator has been leveraged to provide much more convenient control of placement. And many new placement features have been added to increase interactivity and improve workflow.
3DS Max Support
The famous production proven quality of Massive will finally be available for Autodesk 3ds Max users.
“We know that 3ds Max users like to work within the Max environment so we are giving them what they've been asking for: a Massive plugin for 3ds Max,” revealed CEO Stephen Regelous.
The new plugin allows Max users to easily and conveniently load scenes of many thousands of characters and see the Massive agents in the scene just like any other 3ds Max objects. V-Ray rendering is fully integrated, and all the user has to do is click the render button to see the Massive agents rendered along with the other objects in the scene. The plugin is expected to be released shortly after the release of Massive 5.0.
About Massive Software
Originally created to help artists solve large-scale production needs on The Lord of the Rings films, Massive Software is the leading creator of crowd and autonomous character animation systems. Massive was founded when Stephen Regelous programmed a unique piece of software for director Peter Jackson to make the creation of complicated visual effects scenes involving hundreds of thousands of digital characters a practical reality. Massive received a Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2004. Today, Massive Software develops a family of standalone, commercially available products, with customers including Weta Digital, The Mill, Animal Logic, Rhythm & Hues, Digital Domain, Method Studios and other leading digital production and effects studios.
Source: Immersed in Movies