Just by being on Linux, MARI has rocked the post industry. All those guys tired of dual-booting, of trying to get Photoshop to work in Wine or some other “in-elegant Linux solution”. Or for those trying to use a laptop hooked up to the network or two machines with a KVM switcher (you know who you are) MARI is like a breath of fresh air! No nasty print type things getting in the way of painting at high bit depths and HDR floating points. Everything works. No nasty greying out of pull downs as it only works in 8 bit situations; geometry size is not an issue either, texture size is 32k square. It’s eats massive data sets elegantly. It’s a Godsend.
The Ptex support included in this latest release seems to be the hot potato of the moment—the panacea of UV-less painting maybe? Ptex support is now matched by Pixar’s RenderMan, so you have quite a powerful solution in that pipeline. Maya's Viewport 2.0 will allow you to look at them. It’s tantalising us for the time when Mental Ray will support the Ptex, but we will have to wait for the hotfix or service pack for Maya to render them. For all the guys who love painting in Photoshop for the layout etcetera, having to suddenly jump and use a 3D paint system is going to be a big deal but the benefits are such that they can't afford not to!
The Displacement preview with environment mapping will start to give you an accurate representation of the final look making its path to a look development tool all the more exciting. With MARI being hooked up to Katana in the future, you will be able to get real-time feedback on your look development and check out the results in the renderer of your choice.
Although you can't sculpt in MARI, the fact that you can see your displacement in context and in real time, is much more beneficial to the pipeline. It allows you to fine tune and tweak all the aspects knowing that all this will be directly implementable. You no longer have to play the silly game of going in one package, out of that one, back into another one, etcetera, etcetera, just to check if your displacement map works in the renderer you are using.
The upcoming bridge to NUKE will be fantastic. It will allow you to send of all the aspects of your NUKE file, including LUT's, to fix. And, you'll be able to work on all the projections using all the paint tools in MARI to correct and make useful painted geometry for matte-paintings right off the bat. Then you can send it right back to NUKE. It’s a great workflow.
This is another very forward thinking product from the hottest company in VFX tool production at the moment. They are right on it from acquisition to delivery. The Foundry is doing a lot of things right!