Kickstand streamlines character animation with StretchMesh

San Francisco (CA) – Kickstand has introduced StretchMesh 1.5, a surface deformation plug-in that streamlines the creation of realistic character animation in Maya.  

“StretchMesh 1.5 completely reinvents the character deformation pipeline,” explained Daniel Dawson, Kickstand’s director of character technology. “Character skin is very elastic and difficult to animate. By giving polygonal meshes an inherent ‘stretchy’ characteristic, StretchMesh removes the time-intensive process of manually tweaking skin weights to streamline rigging of complex body and facial movements.”

According to Dawson, StretchMesh 1.5 incorporates a fast algorithm for relational vertex knowledge, which facilitates the rapid creation of smooth character deformations by sharing polygonal data with neighboring vertices.

Other features include:

  • Improved flexibility animating collisions with primitive spheres and curves.
  • The influence of a collision object can now be painted, giving users per-vertex control over a collision and impact.
  • Curve attractors provide the ability to pull vertices toward the closest point on a curve. This technique is useful in facial rigging, for example, where the vertices of an eyebrow need to be pulled toward a target curve.
  • A new “scale safe” mode allows users to scale a mesh and safely preserve its initial shape.

It should be noted that realistic 3D renderings – once limited to the realm of speciality gaming – have signifcantly increased in popularity. For example, clothing designers often create entire lines of virtual apparel to study the texture and drape of fabrics on 3D models. In addition, famed auto-manufacturer Lamborghini has employed rendering software to create digital prototypes of various sports cars, such as the $1 million 2008 Reventon.