This summer at SIGGRAPH 2019, we had the chance to meet with Toolchefs, the creators of the crowd simulator called Atoms Crowd. The Toolchefs team told us about the new 3.x release, but also their vision for the future of this software.
3DVF : What are the biggest selling points of the new release Atoms Crowd 3 ?
Toolchefs : We introduced the ragdoll support and other features like the interactive caching, force Fields and PhysX. Furthermore, with some of our clients we improved the layout workflow. With the new version we are going to release a new integration with Unreal Engine. We are going to be the first crowd engine in Unreal. We also did a lot of features for Maya, Houdini and other minor features that we are working with our client.
3DVF : Could you give us the name of few studios using Atoms Crowds ? Do you target specific markets ?
Toolchefs : Cinesite, Image Engine and BaseFX are the major clients, and Reel FX, Luma picture as well.
The market in the VFX industry is over crowded, because there are Houdini, Goalem and other solutions. The main difference between Atoms and these other products is, we decided to go for a stand alone solution, so the engine itself is completely stand alone and we integrated it as a plug-in inside Maya, Houdini. It is very easy to exchange the data between the application, for instance we can simulate with Maya and bring it to Houdini and it can make the effects, cloth.
3DVF : Where do you see Atoms Crowds in the upcoming years ?
Toolchefs : What we want to do in the next years, and especially with the new Unreal engine integration, is target other markets like architecture, VR, AR… We do not want just to be a VFX tool, we want to be the crowd solution that will be out there for market. We are going to make sure that AI has a better support by our software and we can use in gaming and other application.
3DVF : Atoms Crow is available for Maya and Houdini Users. Do you plan to support more content creation tools in the future ?
Toolchefs : We want to integrate Atoms in other software. We are already talking with some companies but we are unable to release more details. We are hoping to have more integration coming out next year. We are making sure our user base is increasing and our community can benefit from the new software.
3DVF : A while ago, you launched a free Personal Learning Edition (PLE) of Atoms Crowd, why did you choose to provide it ?
Toolchefs : Actually, we are going to dismiss the PLE version, because with the version 3 we are going to release two new licences, one an indie license and a free licence. Both licenses will have all features, meaning they will not to be limited and you can use all Atoms products.
The free licence is for education, if you are student you can use it for your projects and even if you want to work on a project, where you will not be earning any money, you can use it.
The indie license is for individuals and studios that earn less than 100 k USD. They can use up to 500 £/year on all our Atoms products.
3DVF : You also provide Maya and Lightwave plugins.
What can we expect on this end in the upcoming months ?
Toolchefs : For the plugins, we are not planning on doing anything. However, we are going to open source the code for all our Maya animation tools in the upcoming months.