Notch 0.9.22 Is Out Today
This release includes ray tracing, Substance Designer integration, NotchLC Adobe Plugins, Unicode support, advanced baking features and 300+ updates and fixes!
Today we are very happy to announce our new software update (download and see the full changelog here), which has been the result of 8 months of work, including inputs from our fantastic user community and beta testers. You can find the full changelog on our website (be warned: it’s huge), and our manual has also been updated.
Top tip! We have also written two additional blog posts today: one on ray tracing in Notch, and one on the NotchLC video codec.
We want to use this opportunity to talk a little bit about the biggest news, updates and fixes in this release.
Introducing Ray Tracing
Ray tracing brings to Notch a number of features not previously possible with the traditional renderer and greatly improves others. In this release, accurate one-bounce reflections are now possible; area lights can cast shadows; and spot, omni & skylight quality can be improved greatly by using raytraced shadows instead of shadow maps.
Ray tracing may work in real-time for some suitable scenes but is not guaranteed or even intended to. It has a different performance profile to the traditional rasterisation renderer: some scenes which are very fast on the traditional renderer may be much slower with ray tracing, where others fare better.
In order to take advantage of the improved render quality offered by ray tracing even in real-time targeted scenes, a new baking workflow to cache lighting to textures has been developed and is also available in this release.
Note: ray tracing is such an important feature that we have written an entire blog post about it, which goes into a bit more detail. We recommend you check it out!
NotchLC for Adobe & Auto-Transcoding
Alongside the main Notch , we are also shipping NotchLC plugins for Adobe Media Encoder, After Effects and Premiere, making the NotchLC codec straightforward to use for a whole new audience. New in Notch 0.9.22 is also automatic transcoding of imported videos, making it a lot easier to bring video into Notch.
NotchLC is a video codec designed specifically for the high demands of VFX work, and works to bring together the best of a number of worlds; high structural integrity in detailed images (rivalling ProRes 4444) and 12bit luma accuracy provide the quality needed for an intermediary codec.
NotchLC offers lightning-fast GPU encoding (9x faster than HAP) and decoding, making it a best-in-class media server playback codec, capable of playing back 24 simultaneous streams of 4K (30 FPS) video. NotchLC has been independently quality tested and verified by dandelion + burdock, a highly recognized design and technology company.
Note: oh yes, we’ve written an entire blog post about NotchLC as well — check it out!
Substance Designer integration
A highly requested feature is integration with Substance Designer by Adobe, the industry standard 3D texturing suite. Users can now use advanced materials designed in Substance Designer inside of Notch directly, without breaking the creative flow. With this new integration, any exposed property on a Substance SBSAR material can be edited in real time, opening up a new world of creative possibilities for artists.
Long-time users will be glad to see a 2–4x speed up on shader compilation and the addition of a node graph fullscreen switch, a Ctrl-R shortcut to quickly connect nodes to the root node (or the closest appropriate root, such as Particle Emitters to Particle Root), more keyboard controls in the standalone executable exports, a new “Use Project Resolution” option when exporting video (which is very handy), a much faster PNG loader, feedback on exposed parameters when live editing, a built-in update checker and more than 300 new features and fixes.
Here are a few additional highlights:
We’re now shipping a shader cache which means that the default samples will load a lot faster.
We’ve added support for Unicode text, which was highly requested by our users in non-English speaking countries.
Direct support for BlackTrax and Xsens — two widely used technologies for motion and object tracking. Blacktrax was previously only available in Notch when used through a dedicated media server.
TUIO multi-touch surface support is also included in this release, enabling the transmission of multi-touch events and tangible object states into Notch through the TUIO protocol for advanced projects.
We’ve added support for even higher quality video exports, including 16 & 32-bit RGBA floating point, 16-bit channel.EXR and more, in addition to the NotchLC additions.
Timeline and editing improvements
You can now have multiple time bars per node/layer, Bezier support in the curves editor, minimize bars and more. We’ve also added Regions for easy organization of your node graph.
New camera controls
Navigating the viewport should now feel a lot more familiar to users of other 3D packages, as we have added more standard controls using the Alt key: Alt + LMB / MMB / RMB / Scroll. See the full list here.
Curve mask editing
Drawing and managing masks is now greatly improved by the addition of a proper bezier curve editor. Videographers, rejoice!
We highly recommend you take a look at the full changelog, and as always: let us know if you encounter any issues. If you are coming from an earlier version of Notch, be sure to check the Project Upgrade Guide.