When it comes to bundled software, we are all familiar with the offerings from Adobe and Autodesk, to name just a few. The convenience and cost effectiveness of being able to purchase all of your tools in just one package has simply become an everyday way of life, especially if you are a freelance artist, student or operate a small to medium-sized studio.
When it came to software published by The Foundry, you only had the choice of purchasing each title or licence separately. Very recently, however, that changed with the release of the new Production COLLECTIVE and the Creation COLLECTIVE. As a result of this, it is now possible for you to purchase all of The Foundry’s high-end software and tools for one competitive price and under one licence.
The Production COLLECTIVE is made up of NUKEX, MODO, MARI and HIERO, while the light version, the Creation COLLECTIVE (retailing at £1,550 / $2,480 US), includes MODO, MARI and HIEROPLAYER. Both of the packages are good value and it’s great to have the option for a light version, but coming from a VFX, editorial and broadcast area, I was far more interested in testing out the Production COLLECTIVE.
Surprisingly, I found the install process a little old-fashioned. If you’ve installed software packages or bundles before, you would be familiar with the process of setting the parameters for all of the included titles and kicking off the install. Generally you would return a certain amount of time later to find a splash screen reading “Installation Complete”. This is not the case for the Production COLLECTIVE. It happened to be a very hands-on process, with each title installing in almost exactly the same way that it would if you were installing them separately. I did feel that it could be worth addressing this in future releases.
Once the COLLECTIVE was fully installed, I started by setting up HIERO for a small test production. I found it easy to use and extremely powerful. This pipeline tool has been built from the ground up by The Foundry and the way it communicates with NUKE is nothing short of brilliant.
To call it a shot management tool is underselling its capabilities in the extreme. It has an excellent video-editing toolset and can also incorporate audio into its multi-track timeline. The powerful Tag and Export functions enable you to create and maintain an online or offline asset management and naming system. In fact, the Export system can even bake various nodes and input and output path settings straight into the NUKE file, ready for the artist – ideal for keeping the pipeline consistent and efficient.
Originally acquired by The Foundry after completion of Avatar, MARI is a cutting-edge 3D paint tool, which enables the artist to paint directly onto 3D geometry.
I was excited to put MARI’s new Alembic file support to the test and found the toolset intuitive. I was impressed by the layering systems and found myself doing things that other software just can’t do. The Physically Plausible Shaders gave some beautiful results and the layered masking offered the ability to refine my work in a very organic way.
I’m also very excited about the features earmarked for version 2.6. The HDRI based lighting and ability to easily flip between HDRI sources will certainly enthuse the game artists among us. The inclusion of Layered Shaders will also be a feature that no other software can boast. However, it’s the UV Transfer feature that has me most excited. It will give the artist the ability to transfer UV data from one model to another, for example, from a low-poly game model to a high-poly cinematic model.
A full-featured 3D application, MODO is certainly giving mainstream apps like Maya and 3ds Max a run for their money, especially with the integration of the new particle system. It had been a while since I’d used MODO, but I was pleased to see what had been added and what had been kept. I liked the Mesh Fusion feature set, especially given the flaky nature of booleans, so I think most 3D artists will find it very useful. The rendering capabilities, especially the real-time viewport features, were easy to use and yielded fantastic results. For past users or artists looking for a new skill-set, you could do a lot worse than MODO, especially given the increase in film, television and game use.
We recently reviewed the release of NUKEX 8 and found it to be the best release of this award-winning compositing software so far. Whether it’s the new Match Grade feature or the Intelligent Help System, you certainly need to try this version. There are new Text features, a Full Frame Player Buffer, a Particle Cache function and the 3D Camera Tracking has received a major overhaul. There’s a new Scope System, which enables artists to assess colour using various modes of visual representation.
Ultimately it is the individual applications within the Production COLLECTIVE that are extremely powerful. Despite this, the fact that you can now purchase them all under one licence can only mean greater accessibility to these incredible tools. The Foundry not only has a reputation for creating great, reliable software, it also has a wonderful connection to the creative community. This is evident through the tools it continues to release and without a shadow of a doubt, the Production COLLECTIVE is no exception.
Interested in winning yourself a copy of the PRODUCTION Collective? Enter our competition today and you’ll be in with a chance!