Yeti 3.5 is here!

Yeti 3.5 is here and it’s one of our biggest point releases ever!  Our team has been working hard to introduce great new features to help with productivity and integration.

Alembic Logo

We have implemented support for Alembic into the core of Yeti for both importing and exporting geometric data.

For importing – a new File node has been implemented that will read both curve sets and mesh data from the specific Alembic file, along with any additional arbitrary attributes, that may be modified and referenced by down stream nodes. Our aim is to expand support for additional geometric formats in the future.

For exporting – we have expanded our caching commands to include writing the evaluated results of graphs to Alembic file(s) with multiple samples for motion blur purposes and either having all the data stored in one monolithic file (and for fur this can be truly monolithic) or on a per frame basis. Density and other graph options can be controlled from the command line.

 

OpenImageIO

Continuing the adoption of amazing open source projects, our internal texturing system has been completely replaced with OpenImageIO – besides added format support it also provides additional efficiency when reading a large number of high resolution texture files.

 

Volumetric Guides

We have introduced a new default Volumetric guide model which provides a more intuitive result with additional visual control over the shape and clumping behaviour with the option to switch to the previous Shape Matching model for backwards compatibility.

 

Parting, Switch node and more…

Additional highlights are the new Automatic Parting, a Switch Node, Projection based texture coordinates for feathers, Density based relaxation and the list goes on!  Check out the release notes for details.

 

Last but not least, we’d like to remind our lovely friends to the south that Yeti is now available world wide (including the US) – enjoy!

Please note:  This is a free upgrade for all 3.x users. 

 

Yuriy Dulich’s Great Horned Owl

Yuriy Dulich kindly shared details about how he crafted his beautiful Great Horned Owl over the course of 4 months using Yeti, Maya, Arnold and Mari.


 

“I chose my typical approach with this type of character – to make it as realistic and anatomically correct as possible. The research process for this project included reading scientific literature, speaking with amateur keepers and meeting professional ornithologists including a live owl to study.”

“It all started with the collection of detailed references. There were no problems with photo-references as there are a lot of them from different angles and once I started gathering these the scale of the work became clear. But it was necessary to dig into more detail and problems started with the owl’s anatomy, the location of the feathers on the body and how their length and structure depend on their location and how the texture of the feathers varies themselves.”

“I decided to visit the zoo to talk with ornithologists and thanks to my friend Simon Andrew, who is a scientist fond of ornithology, I managed to study the living Ural owl very closely. This made it possible to better understand the volume of feathers in relation to the volume of the body itself, the location of the pterilium, the anatomy of the body, the structure of the feathers, and much more. The book “The Unfeathered Bird” by Katrina van Grouw helped me a lot with anatomy and additional feather textures were obtained from the online database of ornithologists: https://www.fws.gov/lab/featheratlas/ and https://www.featherbase.info/ru/home. The rest of the textures I hand-painting according to the reference with the whole process taking place in parallel with the sculpting and grooming.”

“Before sculpting I managed to find a scan of the skull of the desired owl and assembled the skeleton according to the reference while basing it on a modified skeleton of a parrot.”

“The next challenge was building the skin up to the intended volume, making a guess based on all of the reference as there are no photos of this specific owl without feathers. When the base model was built, the grooming and feather creation began. This is a very delicate and long work that requires attention and a large number of references.”

“I have implemented an iterative grooming method in my pipeline and with this method, literally in 2-3 passes, I get close to the desired shape of the strands. In Yeti, I used a new feature with a shader node which allowed me to visualize where the right layer of feathers is on the body by procedurally setting different colors for each layer. An expression based on the length and layer was used to automatically selected the necessary set of feathers with the required density.”

“To generate the feathers, I used both the Yeti built-in feather primitive along with the jcFeather plugin and divided the whole owl into zones.”

“Each region has from 3 to 9 variations of feathers. In total, there are 3,913 feathers on the body and 2362 feathers covering of the wings. The wing and tail feathers were based on photo references I took from the ornithological researchers – although their resolution wasn’t great their shape was clearly visible and creation was not difficult.”

“I want to note that I did not use polygonal planes in general, all of the the feathers based on fibres where the total number of feathers was 6327 which consisted of 2188922 fibres.”

“I tried to keep the Grooming as anatomically correct as possible following the so-called pterilium and the length of feathers while measuring and adjusting to my subjects proportions.”

“This is quite a laborious business as there is very little information or scientific articles on this topic. But the analysis of other birds and familiarity with the Ural owl allowed me to solve this problem.”

“I iterated on the grooming by repeatedly fitting to the body model, adjust wing positions and small tests with body deformation – once I was happy I finalized the basic shape of the owl. In ZBrush, I performed a highly detailed sculpt and together with the vector textures I finalized the body model.”

“Next was the final fit of the grooming, the angles of rotation of the feathers, the number of fibres in the feathers and their thickness with repeated test renders to try and match the feeling and look of the reference.”

“Having good success with my previous work I decided to perform the final visualization in the studio as well. By lighting nothing complicated, I used from 2-4 AreaLigth to simulate a soft box of light sources and one sky dome at a low exposure.”

“In the end the average render time on 2*Xeon E5-2695v3 (2*14core @ 2,8GHz) for 8k images was approximately 30h, and 4k images for the head was 14h.”


 

And here is a fantastic breakdown of how it came together – thank you Yuriy.

 

Yeti helped Fido bring this Yoga Cat to Life

When tasked with creating a cat that specializes in downward dog, our product, Yeti helped Fido bring this Yoga Cat to life in a new commercial for ChocoFresh.

We asked Joakim Eriksson, Lighting VFX Artist at Fido, to tell us all about their experience with Yeti and here’s what he had to say:

“Have you ever seen a cat in a desperate attempt to catch a chocolate addicted mum’s attention by doing yoga? Probably not – but it’s a fun concept! Our team at Fido was asked whether it was possible to make a realistic cat in full CG and although challenging, we were all very keen to tackle it. As I’ve worked on both furry and creature projects at Fido as a Lead Lookdev artist in the past, I was asked to be involved in this project to contribute my knowledge and experience.”

“The challenge for each new project, and it is important to ensure that you do what is best for each individual project, is the direction you should take and what tools to use to achieve the best possible result. When creating an animal like a cat the focus is to make the fur as believable as possible, where every fibre is crucial in fooling the viewer’s eye, and you need flexibility to achieve these results.  It was a couple of years ago that we were introduced to Yeti from Peregrine Labs and we haven’t looked back.”

“Yeti has become one of our primary tools that has been used for many different assets including fur, feathers, or other geometry such as landscape, stone, etc. I knew we could rely on Yeti for Chocofresh as it would be powerful enough to provide the look we were after yet simple to use, even for those who have never used it before, allowing us to iterate quickly for the production.”

“We were very happy that we made the choice; grooming was fast and predictable and there was a lot of flexibility offered by the procedural node graph (which I love) – it is such a great tool! Another area that worked particularly well in the Chocofresh production was that we could easily do shot-based fur direction and changes without having to modify the original asset.”

“In short, Yeti is a great tool! It is smooth and works like a charm. We really enjoy using it at Fido and our clients are satisfied with the result!  Could we do this without Yeti? My answer to that would be: How?”

Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your experience working with Yeti, Joakim.  We love this spot!