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Katana 4.0 Reveal Shows Major New Features Coming Fall 2020

At the recent Foundry Live event, the Katana team shared a sneak peek at their ground-breaking new lookdev and lighting software release slated for later this year.

Leading media and entertainment creative software company Foundry has revealed a look under the hood of Katana 4.0, their ground-breaking new rendering software update slated for a Fall 2020 release.

During their recent Foundry Live event, Jordan Thistlewood, Director of Product – Pre-production, LookDev & Lighting and Gary Jones, Associate Product Manager – Katana, shared a sneak peek at some of the key features coming in Katana 4.0.

Noting that Foundry product development always focuses on performance, so that the technology embedded in the software truly serves both artist and pipeline developer needs, Thistlewood shared that the chief concern and drive for Foundry’s Katana team has been to build on the ability of Katana to handle complexity and volume.  A main goal continues to be turning what has largely been a TD-focused workflow into a digital cinematography platform geared around artist tools.

“Katana 4.0 is the culmination of the work we started with the Katana 3 series in terms of transforming the UX of the lighting artist from a technical ‘old school’ process to a rich, modern viewer-based approach,” he commented. “We took this direction as we believe the actions to realise an idea should be as simple as conversations about the idea - and our software facilitates the creative flow of the artist in just a few clicks.”

Thistlewood went on to explain that the pipeline world is changing, with scalability becoming ever more important. The COVID-19 pandemic has made inherently difficult work even more difficult; customers are increasingly looking at issues such as artists working remotely, cloud computing, centralized infrastructure, and PCoIP.

According to Thistlewood and Jones, and illustrated in a series of video clips, key features in the Katana 4.0 fall release include:

  • Support for all rendering plugins
  • Viewer improvements, including interacting directly with the scene via rendered images.
  • The program introduces a new lighting mode that provides workflows that are modelled on traditional cinematography.
  • Support for lighting interactions directly on top of the image allowing artists to respond to art direction with greater precision.
  • Two features that are separate but deeply related: Multiple Simultaneous Rendering, and a yet to be named Scalable Interactive Network Rendering. 
    • Multiple Simultaneous Renders allow an artist to multi-task across shots, assets, frames or any variation of result they want to see in order to respond to creative choices and art direction. 
    • This way, artists won’t have to stop and wait for the next render.
  • Powering the MSR at the extreme is Katana 4’s ability to use machines on the network to render interactive renders directly into the Katana 4 UI. 
  • A Katana interactive session can scale up at least linearly by the number of machines a studio gives an artist to power their rendering.  This could be a second machine under their desk or a dynamic pool of render farm machines that are only assigned to artists during the day through a company’s existing render farm management system. 
  • Can not only set off multiple renders, but can queue them to run on machines not being used on the network.
  • You can use a small pool of machines for interactive rendering during the day, back into the render farm delivering dailies for the next day.

Katana 4.0 will be available in the Fall on Foundry’s website.

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.