Greg Barta takes the latest release from Isotropix for a spin
Cdigitallarisse can easily be described as the
counterpart of a shooting stage in a model workshop. When every asset is ready, you can lay them down there and do the lighting, composition and all the look development work. Clarisse is famous for its quasi-unlimited geometry handling capabilities – and that’s why some of the biggest VFX studios use it. You can put as many models on the stage as you want, they can be static or animated geometries, results of dynamic simulations, made in other software. You can even spread them with the new paint tool, which was introduced in version 3.5.
However, there are limits. For example, the rendering of the volumetric effects is similarly slow as other CPU based renderers. There are workarounds to speed up but nothing can beat the fog machine in the workshop – not just in terms of rendering speed, but also the realism of light scattering. This is just one reason why filmmakers still use practical effects, or at least rely on them. Good examples are the trash mesa and city scenes in Blade Runner 2049 or most of the effects scenes in Dunkirk – however, VFX artists used Clarisse in both films.
and with a new release comes new features. as usual with updates to Clarisse, the new shadow catcher shader has additional functionality beyond the original purpose. it can now not only receive shadows on the background image, but also catch the indirect illumination from the other objects, so this is the correct physically based approach.
We can’t find the new outline shader in the materials list because it is a subpixel filter. Thus we can use any material and lighting setup, then use this filter to convert our physically based renderings to the realm of cartoon-looking images. With this feature, anime studios are now able to have the same level of geometry complexity as we’ve seen in just as advanced VFX shots before.
shading variables were accessible for special users of Clarisse, like Dneg, but now every user can have the significant advantage of variable based shading differences. instead of having different node networks for each variant of a material, we can now utilise variables in almost every input of the shading nodes and use just one material network, then attach these variable names with different values to the geometries, shading groups or rules of a shading layer to get different material effects for each.
The new alembic bundles are for smoother workflow because in contrast with the original import/reference alembic functions, it imports an alembic file as a single Clarisse object, similar to OBJ import, but with all the extra alembic features like attached object properties. it’s like a black box – it doesn’t flood the internal alembic hierarchy into Clarisse.
The free Ple version of Clarisse now has the ability to save 2,500 images in a day without watermarks, which can be a great opportunity for artists who want to express themselves with Hollywood’s visual portal gun.
The founders of isotropix made Clarisse to overcome the software-related frustrations of VFX artists. Well, they pushed the technical boundaries of VFX work beyond the horizon, literally, so we can create interactive, highly detailed 3D landscapes without compromise.
However, in some cases there are frequent crashes with Clarisse, too, as with other VFX software. The lucky thing is that the developers encourage your work and Clarisse automatically saves a backup of the project every 30 seconds, which is a huge advantage.
VFX professionals may learn that the only real anti-frustration thing is to go away from the computer frequently and have breaks, even if it is a deadline period. a few minutes away – especially if you have the opportunity to get some fresh air and catch some sunshine – can give you some extra energy and fruitful ideas. This can’t be compensated with any sort of software voodoo magic, even if Clarisse does achieve that.