The new features are here in Katana 4.0.
Two new features are debuting in Foundry Katana 4.0; multiple simultaneous rendering and interactive network rendering sitting under an umbrella called the Foresight workflow.
With multiple simultaneous renders, users will be able to launch what are effectively test renders on their local machines without having to wait for existing renders to finish during the lookdev and lighting process.
Meanwhile, interactive network renders will enable live renders and preview renders to be set up on renderfarms, both physical and in the cloud.
Here’s how it all works, and how it can be part of your VFX and animation workflow.
No need to stop and wait for the next render
That’s pretty much the idea of the new multiple simultaneous renders feature coming in Katana, part of something Foundry is calling Katana Foresight. Before, setting off renders was a hard stop; you did one, then you did the next.
The new approach is designed to reflect the kinds of ways artists work these days, including the way artists tend to iterate on different looks, compare looks on their own workstation. Building on Katana’s ability for any project file to house multiple shots, assets, or other deliverables in a procedural node graph based workflow.
“When you’re working on an asset, you might need to know,” observes Jordan Thistlewood, Foundry’s Director of Product – Pre-production, LookDev & Lighting, “how is it going to look on screen from close-up or maybe from far away?”
Since in Katana you might have multiple assets that inherit a common set of resources—materials and textures, for example—the changes you make can have far-reaching impacts.
“You might make a change to the parent shader that feeds multiple assets looking at one asset, and it may look good on that one asset, but you need to be able to make that choice against all of them,” notes Thistlewood.
That’s where Katana Foresight is going to come in. This block of workflows is designed to give users that ability to consume every possible outcome on their rendered assets, on their local machines. “It’s about providing the foresight to know that the choices you make are the choices that you need for the total scope of your work,” says Thistlewood.
When larger, more complex rendering tasks are at play, Katana 4.0 is also introducing the ability to use machines on the network—at a studio, on virtual workstations or in the cloud—to render interactive renders directly into the Katana UI.
Of course, rendering on the farm has been commonplace for many years. But what has not always been possible with Katana is seeing, reviewing and changing a render while it’s in progress, i.e. while it’s on the renderfarm.
That’s changing in Katana 4.0 with this new interactive rendering approach, where users will be able to carry out one live render and multiple preview renders (preview renders provide a snapshot of the rendering state, while live renders allow for changes to be made on the fly).
Further enhancements to this capability are already planned, adds Thistlewood. “The goal we’re delivering next year is the ability for all these renders to also be live renders. Someone could have a whole sequence of shots, be able change the key light direction for a whole scene, and then see it update across all the shots.”
Part of these rendering changes will, in the near future, also include a contact sheet mode in Katana so that users can quickly consume the different renders they set off.
More options, more feedback
What Foundry is aiming to do with these multiple simultaneous and interactive network rendering enhancements in Katana 4.0, and beyond, is give artists the ability to check their work against all the possible factors that are going to invalidate or validate what they’ve done in lookdev’ing, lighting and rendering an asset, shot or scene.
This is especially the case where, usually, one change often impacts many other aspects down the line. The changes are about offering more options, more opportunities and more chances for feedback during the lookdev, lighting and rendering process.
“For an artist to be able to consume what they’re doing multiple times, within every shot and for every shot within a sequence, then moving, for example, one light all of a sudden comes super powerful because you know how it’s going to end up in everything,” says Thistlewood.
“So instead of wondering if the change will work everywhere else, you can have the foresight to know that you’ve done your job to the best of your abilities to then deliver the best result that you can put in front of dailies.”
To find out more about the new features in Katana 4.0, head to Foundry’s website.Sign up to the weekly b&a VFX newsletter