Monday, September 1, 2014

Mari 2.6

Working at LucasFilm has exposed me to a lot. One thing that I learned about that I didn't see much of at EA is The Foundry products. In particular the tool that stands out is Mari. I've taken some time to talk about Quizel's dDo and there's also Substance Painter out there which both handle surface painting beautifully but Mari handles surface painting so well, I really need to share it.

For starters Mari 2.6 supports GLSL which allows you to author surfaces on shaders familiar to those in modern game engines. If the shader out of the box does not quite match up, you can write a custom shader in Mari that fits your engine better using their Custom Shader API. Your shader will still be able to support all of Mari's great authoring features which allow artists to really build accurate surface materials that will translate nicely to an engine. Mari's shader engine will soon be able to also simulate rendering engines like Arnold and VRay as well.

Another thing that really speaks to Mari's power is it's robust Python API and terminal mode. You can write batch scripts and pipeline scripts in Mari to process assets through Mari without having to even open the UI, freeing the artists from doing any sort of monotonous tasks by hand. It's really easy to write python scripts for Mari too. There are already scripts out there to transfer Mari assets into Maya and back.

One of my favorite features of Mari at the moment is it's particle texture transfer system. Basically you can take a super high resolution film quality asset and overlay it on a game resolution equivalent and transfer all of the detail from one mesh to the other. This is similar to Zbrush and Mudbox's detail transfering except for surfaces. You could transfer surface detail from a really high resolution mesh with tons of UDIMs to a game resolution mesh with one UV map and get the proper diffuse, specular, normal, roughness, etc. maps for your engine. All in all, this software is really great and I highly recommend it.

Hit the jump for some video demonstrations of Mari 2.6

Here is Mari's Python API in action for all you scripters out there.

Here is Mari's texture transfer tool in action.

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