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The Foundry releases Katana 1.0

27 October 2011
The Foundry releases Katana 1.0

VFX software developer The Foundry has released Katana 1.0, a look development and lighting tool that replaces the conventional 3D computer graphics pipeline with a flexible recipe-based asset workflow, and has sold a site licence to Industrial Light & Magic, writes David Fox.

ILM is using it for upcoming productions and will deploy the software in it San Francisco and Singapore studios for both ILM and Lucasfilm.

“We worked closely with The Foundry over the past year on specific features and functionality we wanted to see in Katana and after implementing it in production, we believe the package shows great promise and we look forward to our continuing relationship with The Foundry as we integrate technologies such as Katana into our production pipeline," said ILM Visual Effects Supervisor, John Knoll.

Katana is designed: to allow a highly scalable asset based workflow, updating assets once shots are already in progress; to share lighting set-ups, such as edits and overrides, between shots and sequences; to allow the use of multiple renderers and specify dependencies between render passes; and to allow shot specific modification of assets to become part of the lighting ‘recipe’ for shots to avoid having to deal with large numbers of shot-specific asset variants.

Extensive application programming interfaces allow it to integrate with current pipelines, shader libraries and workflow tools, whilst its collaborative nature allows it to scale to meet the needs of the most demanding productions, producing incredibly complicated shots while allowing artists to retain control.

Katana was developed at Sony Pictures Imageworks, where it has been used on more than 20 productions since 2004, before being taken on by The Foundry in 2009. Digital Domain bought a pre-release version in May.


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