Autodesk Unveils 2012 Editions of Middleware, Entertainment, Post-production Applications

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Software maker Autodesk announced at the Game Developers Conference a number of new application releases, including Autodesk HumanIK 2012, a middleware application for character animation in games.

The company’s middleware releases also include Beast 2012 for global illumination and Kynapse 2012 for artificial intelligence. The new releases are designed to facilitate integration with popular game engines, support new game platforms and offer enhanced performance. Autodesk middleware has been integrated on numerous game productions including Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Dragon Age: Origins and EVE Online.

Autodesk describes the releases, which are expected to be available this spring, as follows:

  • Autodesk Beast is a software development library for creating realistic lighting in games. With Beast, developers can simulate natural lighting effects such as color bounce, soft shadows, high dynamic range lighting and lighting of moving objects in real-time game environments. The enhanced API (application programming interface) in Autodesk Beast 2012 enables developers to integrate the eRnsT interactive lighting preview tool into custom game level editors. Beast also now comes with an integration for Unreal Engine 3, making it easier for game teams using Unreal Engine to get up-and-running with the middleware.
  • Autodesk HumanIK animation middleware is a software development library for creating more believable, interactive character animation in games. HumanIK features full-body inverse kinematics (IK) and real-time retargeting technology, enabling characters to interact with, and procedurally adapt to, game environments at runtime. Autodesk HumanIK 2012 middleware enables more realistic character animation on the latest mobile gaming devices. The middleware now supports the next generation portable entertainment system (codename: NGP) from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., as well as the Apple iOS mobile platform.
  • Autodesk Kynapse provides game developers with an extensive set of software libraries and development tools for real-time 3D path-finding, spatial awareness and team coordination. The middleware helps game developers save time and achieve greater game realism through ready-to-use tools for achieving complex behaviors. Kynapse 2012 uses significantly less memory and provides better performance than previous versions. Developers will now enjoy greater control over the trade-off between CPU and memory consumption versus the precision of the AI solution. On the PlayStation®3 system, navigation mesh algorithms can now execute on a synergistic processing unit (SPU). Further pathfinding optimizations make it easier to more quickly determine the existence of a path between two points. Such performance enhancements and the lower memory footprint mean game developers can build even more ambitious real-time character behaviors.

The company also announced the 2012 version of the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suites, which includes new versions of 3ds Max, Maya, Softimage, Mudbox and Motion Builder, all with substantial improvements and upgrades. The company described each upgrade as follows:

  • Autodesk 3ds Max 2012 software delivers a new accelerated graphics core, mRigids for dynamic rigid-body simulations in the viewport and new sculpting and painting enhancements like the Clone brush
  • Autodesk Maya 2012 software provides significant enhancements to the viewport offering full-screen effects, editable motion trails for animation editing in the viewport, as well as new simulation options
  • Autodesk Softimage 2012 software provides new procedural ICE modeling, integrated Syflex cloth simulation, stereoscopic capabilities and multiple core software development kit (SDK) additions
  • Autodesk Mudbox 2012 software delivers enhancements to the painting toolset, innovative new UV and topology-independent workflows, practical posing tools and improved large dataset handling
  • Autodesk MotionBuilder 2012 software provides new in-viewport stereoscopic display and camera rig, a unified interface and solver for Autodesk HumanIK 4.5 or 2012 middleware, as well as new tools for virtual moviemaking

Lastly, Autodesk also announced new versions of its finishing applications, Flame and Smoke.

Autodesk Flame Premium  2012 release features tools that help artists integrate ultrarealistic 3D lighting effects into composites; a comprehensive set of effects tools for finishing stereoscopic 3D projects, enhanced finishing workflows with CG pipelines; and a  range of new tools designed to make 3D compositing as fast and interactive as traditional 2D compositing.

Smoke 2012 includes a redesigned 3D lighting system and Flame FX, a comprehensive new set of creative and technical tools for common finishing tasks, featuring Damage, Deform, Edge Detect and Pixel Spread.

For more information on technical specs, pricing and availability, visit the company’s website at www.autodesk.com.