Turtle and eRnsT and Beast, oh my! (plus Siggraph 2010 recap)

Posted by STLR, 4 August 2010 7:00 pm


Well I think I'm finally recovered from the craziness of Siggraph last week. This year was my 12th. It was a good show in general. Being in LA, it was definitely bigger than last year in New Orleans... although New Orleans was more fun :) Regardless, I don't think Siggraph will ever be what it was in the glory days of the late 90's. That's back when SGI, Intergraph, Alias, Discreet, Softimage, etc... were all competing for attention on the show floor. Those were some big... and loud shows.

Autodesk co-sponsored a party with Blur Studios again this year and (as usual) Crystal Method headlined. I think those guys are older than me! No offense to the guys at Blur but the party was annoying... tired music, crabby staff, and impossible to get a drink. What is the point of having an open bar if it takes an hour (literally) to get a friggen drink? I'd rather just pay for it and move on. Note to self... next time bring a flask ;)

As usual I didn't have any free time to attend any of the sessions. I spent all my time either doing stage demos on the show floor or meeting privately with customers. I also got the chance to meet some of my new co-workers from Illuminate Labs (creators of Turtle and Beast). As you've probably heard by now Autodesk announced the acquisition the week before Siggraph -> Illuminate Labs announcement

We also made an announcement at Siggraph that Turtle will be part of our upcoming -> Entertainment Creation Suites Premium for Maya.  Here is a sneak peak of the Turtle UI in 2011...

For those of you that aren't familiar with Turtle, it is a rendering and baking plug-in for Maya. It can be used to create final images, but it is predominantly used in game development for light map baking. It allows you to create very high quality results, including effects such as ambient occlusion and global illumination. But unlike MentalRay, it is easy to use and quite fast. I work with a lot of customers who use it and all can attest to its speed for high quality light map generation. Titles for which Turtle was used include Tomb Raider Underworld, WET, Mass Effect, Killzone and God of War III, just to name a few.

I'm no Turtle expert (not yet anyway) but if you're interested in seeing how it works, check out these tutorials...

Global Illumination, Ambient Occlusion and Advanced Baking

And then there is Beast  (coolest product name ever). Beast is also a games focused tool that is used for rendering out high quality lighting effects and baking out maps. It is based on the same GI core as the Turtle renderer. One key difference from Turtle is that it is not dependant on Maya. Instead there is a tool included with Beast called "eRnsT" that allows you to interactively setup your lights and tweak various lighting parameters to preview the results. Another key difference with Beast is that it includes an API, allowing for integration into any game engine. Additionally it is already fully integrated into Unreal Engine 3, as well as Gamebryo LightSpeed.

Here is a nice example movie of eRnsT which shows off the ability to interactively visualize global illumination, shadows and other lighting effects.

 Stay tuned for an actual demo of Turtle in Maya 2011... I just need a few weeks to learn it first :)



Posted 4 August 2010 8:07 pm

thanks for info... im burning to play with turtle...


Posted 4 August 2010 8:15 pm

maybe there is a way to get eRnsT into viewport 2.0 that would be really cool...


Posted 4 August 2010 10:16 pm

Also Beast is fully integrated in the next release of Unity, Unity 3.0. I've used it in Unity 3 beta and it is a fantastic tool.

I have to ask. Can Maya 2011 OSX users expect Turtle as well? As I'm not 100% sure Entertainment Creation Suites Premium for Maya is available on OSX?


Posted 5 August 2010 1:34 pm

Beast is an incredible app! I use it with the Unity Game Engine and it's improved my workflow ten-fold. This is going to be a very awesome addition for game devs.


Posted 5 August 2010 3:19 pm

Crystal Method? Does anyone still listen to that annoying stuff? Come on Blur!!!! Good news about Turtle, although too bad its not part of the Maya baseline now I guess that means Mental Ray is still being worked on at a feverous pace!!!


Posted 5 August 2010 7:45 pm

Still no plans to port Turtle to 3ds Max?


Posted 9 August 2010 6:39 am

I dont think turtle will ewer make it into max.It's made for maya and thats it use beast.
I want to know if turtle will be implemented in 2012 becose i know cat was an plugin for max and by the time softimage get owned by Autodesk it get implemented into max.I realy hope an Game studio dont need to buy the 6k premium suite just to get turtle.


Posted 9 August 2010 8:26 am

Hrm, can we get Final Render included in Maya too? It's the most intuitive renderer integrated into maya so far. It's way better than mental ray's integration, which is kinda sad.


Posted 9 August 2010 12:13 pm

eh.. Vray is far more intuitive than fR for Maya and CG is fnally investing some time in developing updates for it. Vray is gaining more traction, definitely over fR for Maya, which is largely forgotten now.

I doubt at this point Autodesk will buy another render engine. They sold their render soul to Mental Images and are content with trying to make it work across multiple platforms and applications.


Posted 19 August 2010 1:48 pm

any news on the front... when we get turtle to play with..?

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