SIGGRAPH 2006 Report
On the last day of the conference, I had a chance to sit down with Brad Peebler and Bob Bennett of Luxology to see the improvements and latest developments to their flagship modo product. Modo is a 3D modeling and rendering package that is shaking up the industry with its smooth, elegant interface, cutting-edge modeling tools and lighting fast rendering. When commenting on the interface, Bob Bennett was quick to respond, "Details matter," which sums up modo succinctly.
Developed by Brad Peebler, Allen Hastings, and Stuart Ferguson, the key people behind Lightwave, modo represents a fresh start that is built from the ground-up with the end user in mind. Created after the product feature wars that add unnecessary baggage to many 3D packages, modo is coming on strong as a efficient alternate.
Modo 101 was released in September 2004 with a core set of modeling features and was quickly followed by versions 102 and 103. Modo 201 was released earlier this year adding in rendering, painting, instancing and mesh paint features. The 201 release also included the ability to customize the interface and mouse buttons and a simple macro recording feature similar to Photoshop's actions. Luxology also released a Linux version about the same time.
Modo 202 was released during the Siggraph 2006 conference and boasts a 40% increase in speed over modo 201. Among the new 202 features are the ability to see where UV maps overlap and UV pinning, an object-to-object baking features that lets you transfer surface details between objects, the ability to work in game units, an image ink feature, FBX improvements, and real-time normal map editing.
When asked about this insane development and release cycle, Brad explained the development platform that they are using at Luxology is based on a system they've established named Nexus. This platform uses the process of application baking by defining features in a high-level XML definition. This allows them to release a version of the software while development on the next version continues. It appears that the modo development team isn't taking any time to rest.
Several gaming companies have selected to use modo for the creation of their game assets including id software, Epic, Digital Extremes, and Vivendi.
Luxology offers a free 30-day full-featured evaluation version of modo on their web site at www.modo3d.com.