Check out breakthrough softwares for crowd simulation and mocap ready posed characters from AXYZ design.
Established in 2004 AXYZ design develops state-of-the-art 3D products especially for CG artists, architects and designers, including Metropoly, a line of 3D ready-posed and animatable characters and anima®, the fastest stand-alone character animation software in the industry available for 3ds Max, Cinema 4D and Unreal Engine 4.
Innovation and research of new techniques and solutions always keeps us “one step ahead”. The Virtual Assist conducted an exclusive interview with Mr. Diego Gadler (CEO, AXYZ design). Following are the experts.
Welcome Diego. Please let us know your educational and professional background.
Hello Amit, thanks for the interview invitation.
I got my degree at FADU UBA university of Architecture at Buenos Aires in 2000. I started working on CG during my studies in Argentina delivering my final degree thesis completely in 3D and rendered with 3ds Max.
How and why you come with the idea of creating AXYZ design?
During Argentinian economical crash in 2002, I decided to move to Italy and look for better job opportunities. Like many Argentinians who had Italian or Spanish parents and a double citizenship, so staying in EU was simple.
I started my professional experience in a visualization company located in Siena, Tuscany, where I discovered a passion for photography. I remember taking tons of pictures of tourists visiting Piazza del Campo that we later cut out and pasted in Photoshop to populate renderings. This was a repetitive and very exhausting task, especially when clients decided to change perspectives and choose a new view point for the project. We had to repeat the cutting and pasting process again and again…
One weekend, instead of going to Piazza del Campo again, I stayed at home trying to model a 3D human figure. After many attempts, I perfected my first workflow to produce high quality 3D human assets in a reasonable period of time.
In 2004, I opened the AXYZ online shop and started my business.
Ready-posed characters are game changer. Tell us in-depth about it.
After many years of manual modeling using reference photography, I started doing some research about scanning technologies. After some days I discovered that at about 4 hours by car from my studio, in Lugano – Switzerland, there was an international meeting for scanning technologies – 3DBODY.TECH. I went there and saw a nice photogrammetry scanner in action.
in 2012, I released the first scanned models using a 80 SRL camera rig. Offering scanned data back then, was considered “futuristic”!
What are the USPs of your mocap data motions?
Our mocap (motion capture) data can be used in combination with our rigged assets. However, since some years we are offering a much more simple and intuitive way to do character animation.
Our solution is anima®. With this software, users can get tons of animated characters in seconds without the need of animation skills. What this means in the real world is that any artist, no matter how new and untrained, can generate in hours or even minutes what would have taken multiple artists weeks to accomplish using previous methods. Moreover, anima® requires a shallow learning curve. The hours of production it will save on the first use should more than cover the cost of the PRO version.
Once all the people are moving about and looking busy, it is time to import into either 3ds Max, Cinema 4D or Unreal Engine 4. After installing the provided plug-in, all that is required is to import the saved .ani file and wait. The plug-in recognises which rendering engine is currently in use (V-Ray, Corona, Octane, F-Storm, Thea, Maxwell, Redshift, Arnold, Mental Ray, ART), and generates materials based on that rendering software. Once the import is complete we are ready to start rendering.
With the new release, anima® 3.5 we included a series of tools designed to optimize workflows. These tools are called alive™ and they include the possibility to synchronize scenes, cameras, geometries, and drag&drop realistic characters directly onto 3ds Max, cinema 4D and Unreal Engine. Check out the official alive™ workflow.
Our readers will like to know regarding what is anima® and why they should use it.
Since the beginning, AXYZ has been very innovative. Around 2005 there were no similar products or solutions on the market, and Metropoly 3D Humans quickly became the industry standard. The product was conceived to fulfill the real needs of many people working on visualization. Moving cameras and repeated rendering was now possible. Using 3D models allowed a perfect integration of the 3D human figure with the scene and lighting.
Some years later, I started a new project called anima®. In 2011, AXYZ became the first company in the market to offer a unique tool for the archviz maker: crowd simulation. 3DWorld magazine has also defined anima® as the first commercial product of this type, many years before the Autodesk Populate tool for crowd simulation. Last November 2017, we released anima® 3, which offers the first crowd simulation solution for the Unreal Engine and allows artists to populate their scenes with stunning numbers of 3D moving people in very little time.
This month, on 24th September 2018 we will be releasing anima® 3.5 with lots of new features. The most important is the new alive™ system, an innovative technology that establishes a link between your 3D modeling software and anima® allowing a smooth workflow while working and refining your animations. Through an advanced IPC linking anima® synchronizes automatically keeping cameras, animations, materials and collision backgrounds updated.
Check out the official anima® 3.5 release reel.
Please explain import-export workflow of your products with supported softwares.
Our goal is make anima® software more and more powerful and simple-to-use. All the 3D Human assets for crowd simulation are available in our store for anima®. The tool aims to allow “non technical” artists to populate a scene with either animated or Static people with ease. Here you can find some links to our documentation showing the process:
There are actually 3 native plugins for 3ds Max, Cinema 4D and Unreal Engine 4. Also exporting in FBX, Collada, V-Ray Scene, Alembic with either bone animations or point cache is possible.
There is a free version called anima® LITE that is perfect to use for still imagery. With the new drag & drop feature coming out with 3.5 people will be able to directly add 3D realistic models to their projects. Materials for V-Ray, Corona, Maxwell, F-Storm, Octane, Redshift, Thea, Arnold and more, are automatically created and ready for rendering. You can find more documentation about the new drag&drop panel here:
The software anima® 3.5 with alive™ can be downloaded for free from:
How aXYZHUB can be huge time saver with providing proper quality output?
aXYZHUB was released 3 years ago to offer a simple way to organize and access our 3D Human assets from an asset browser directly from 3ds Max. After some years of development we decided to stop producing aXYZHUB and include similar features to anima®. We are concentrating all our efforts in one single and powerful software able to satisfy most of the market needs. With the new ALIVE system coming out with anima® 3.5 accessing your models and drag&drop them inside your 3ds Max, Cinema4D or Unreal Engine scenes is instant!
Here you can watch a sneak peek of this feature:
Please share your released production credentials.
anima® was born and designed mainly for Architecture Visualization projects and most of our clients are architects such as Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Grimshaw Architects, KPF and visualization and creative companies like Binyan Studios, Squintopera and Taylorjames.
However in the last years, due to the simplicity and power of anima®, a wide variety of clients from the diverse CG industries, VFX and cinema are using our solutions to produce amazing film shots that make us feel proud of our work and products.
One example is the “Adidas — Brazuca” Spot done for Brazil World Cup by the talented team at STOPP! Second is the work of Luxx Studios for the VFX in the movie Independence Day: Resurgence, populating Washington Memorial park with thousands of our animated 3D people through crowd simulation.
Another surprising use of our software was in Netflix’s “Cable Girls” for populating the backgrounds and in the development of TimeRide VR, a 15-minute tram ride through the old town of Cologne at the beginning of the 20th century, before both World Wars.
Your libraries are continuously expanding. How do you decide what to create?
Our support service is a fundamental part of the company and something we are trying to improve each day. Helping users with their projects and solve their technical issues is the best way to understand our customers needs. Getting feedback and listening to their requirements is very a important piece of our production workflow.
What are future goals of AXYZ design?
Developing a simple-to-use and effective population solution for Archviz and VFX markets is still our goal. I’m saying “still our goal” because even if we already did many big steps during all these years we are still climbing the mountain. From here we can perfectly see the “Uncanny Valley” and we are well aware that there is still a lot of work and research to do in order to achieve more convincing 3D human assets.
Reproducing realistic 3D Human characters is probably of the most complex CG tasks. With the help of scanning techniques and mocap data we are getting closer and closer to more convincing assets but it is not all about technologies. The artistic work and constant research are two of the most important pieces of our production process.
Research is part of our daily work. Experimenting and programming for hours just to throw away tons of lines of code later is necessary and natural. In our project we found everything on two types of research. On one side, there is a formal and scientifically based research, full of formulas, algorithms and abstractions. On the other side, there is an empiric approach, based on the study of environments, using photos, videos and artistic freedom.
Our end goal is to create visually attractive crowd simulation, and the best thing after a long period of research is when all those ideas start taking shape, you get the first encouraging results and say to yourself: ‘Yes, this is going to work!’
One month ago, at D2 Vienna, we presented some research ideas about animation techniques using AI and deep-learning. The first results we are getting are very promising and we hope this can be reflected next year with anima® 4 release.
We thanks Diego for sharing his valuable time with us and make this interview possible. Our best wishes for his endevours.