+ Character animation research and development company Kickstand today announced new features in StretchMesh 1.5, an innovative surface deformation plug-in that streamlines the creation of realistic character animation in Autodesk® Maya® software. Designed for animators and technical directors working in feature film, broadcast, and game development, StretchMesh 1.5 incorporates a fast algorithm for relational vertex knowledge, which shares polygonal knowledge with neighboring vertices to speed the process of creating smooth character deformations in Maya.
“StretchMesh 1.5 completely reinvents the character deformation pipeline,” said Daniel Dawson, director of Character Technology, Kickstand. “Character skin is very elastic and difficult to animate. By giving polygonal meshes an inherent ‘stretchy’ characteristic, StretchMesh removes the time-intensive process of manually tweaking skin weights to streamline rigging of complex body and facial movements.” With StretchMesh 1.5, the existing feature-set has been improved to offer substantial new features, including a major speed enhancement via multi-threading in Maya 2009. Other new features include:
• Improved flexibility animating collisions using primitive sphere and primitive curve colliders. Primitive sphere colliders behave like mesh sphere colliders, but with far more robust performance. Primitive curve colliders provide an array of radius values along the length of a curve to define a collision tube or capsule, offering significantly better performance than equivalent mesh colliders.
• The influence of a collision object can now be painted, giving users per-vertex control over a collision and impact.
• Curve attractors provide the ability to pull vertices toward the closest point on a curve. This technique is useful in facial rigging, for example, where the vertices of an eyebrow need to be pulled toward a target curve.
• A new "Scale Safe” mode allows users to scale a mesh and safely preserve its initial shape.
Purchase StretchMesh and receive a free upgrade to StretchMesh 1.5 upon availability, summer 2009. StretchMesh is priced at $249 per seat; educational pricing is also available. StretchMesh supports Autodesk Maya version 8.5 or higher on Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.