View Full Version : The foundry to release Mari - Weta's in-house texture tool

03-29-2010, 07:30 AM
Source: http://www.fxguide.com/article604.html

Mari is a new product for the Foundry, developed by their R&D department and the texture department at Weta Digital. Mari has been forged by Weta in the heat of the production of films such as Lord of The Rings, King Kong and Avatar. Mari is a full 3D paint/texture tool able to handle up to 30K textures and produce production ready assets while remaining responsive and interactive. The product is not a modeling tool such as Mudbox - rather it is focused just on texture painting.

The application allows hundreds of production textures to be painted on a model, but rather than be limited to just a static neutral pose, you can import an animation sequence and still interactively work on the texturing. This is important as seams and stretching can often only appear when the character or asset is in motion in a real scene, which is exactly why Mari has this feature - it is a direct result of Production requests from the original Weta team.

One of the programs strongest features is its interactivity. Even with real world production models of high complexity, with multiple 2K textures - the program is lightning fast and responsive. Through the use of some GUI and some very smart CPU programing, the engineering team has produced an extraordinarily interactive program.

To aid in workflow - multiple models can be imported and either models or parts of a master model can be hidden, allowing painting behind the asset and into tight joints and textural creases.

* interactively handles very large 3D model data sets, scaling to over 1 million polygons
* supports large textures, up to 32K x 32K pixels (normally, single textures never need to be this large)
* handles hundreds and thousands of textures per model, over many layers
* provides single- or multi- patch UV texture map management
* supports multiple models or model instances in a single scene
* handles animated geometry and animated textures - floating point, 16-bit or 8-bit textures

In all, this means Mari is happy managing over 100 gigabyte geometry and texture data sets on a single model without slowing down artist interaction and workflow. High performance is achieved with modest hardware requirements (2-4 gigabyte system memory, .5-1 gigabyte graphics memory), with Mari automatically making efficient use of available resources and background task processes.

Mari has a painting toolset that includes:
* a clean and intuitive GUI
* fully customizable brush engine
* paint through and clone brush (between layers and textures)
* smear/drag brush
* paint canvas transform, grid warp and free-form ‘pin’ warp
* blur and sharpen
* advanced ‘healing’ brush for seamless removal and duplication of texture detail
* overall grading and high end filtering

Mari does not at the time of publication have a Per-Face Texture Mapping (Ptex) implementation, (see last week's fxpodcast discussion with Disney re: Ptex) but it is on the roadmap for immediate consideration. The challenge for the Foundry will be in selling a paint only program rather than a paint and texturing program that also does 3D sculpting - such as ZBrush or Mudbox. Interestingly, Autodesk Mudbox was created by Skymatter, founded by former artists also from Weta, where it was first used, also on King Kong.

The Foundry's approach to Mari is to aim it at bigger studios where LookDev and Modeling are two quite separate areas, so the lack of sculpting tools in a paint program would not be such a big issue. But further down the track it is possible that the Foundry will need to address this if they aim to expand to the broader, smaller facility market, which may be less keen to deploy both a Zbrush/Mudbox and Mari parallel setup. While Mari will not be extremely expensive (see below), users in smaller facilities familiar with say ZBrush may not even want to learn a second or third application.

In terms of training and GUI acceptance, Mari is very fast to pick up. Its GUI could perhaps do with a fraction more photoshop-style GUI elements to appeal to the widest audience, but it is very accessible and hundreds of Weta staff have been trained on the product inside Weta and even non-technical artists have been able to be production productive in a matter of days.

Pricing estimates

Mari will go into Beta soon and is expected to be in the order of around 500 euros, but no actual pricing has been officially announced.

More details on The Foundry's website:


10-09-2010, 12:53 PM
Just watched an interview with The Foundry and one of it's developers from WETA on an FXGuide TV episode. It's £600+VAT. Looks very good for the price.

10-09-2010, 01:33 PM

Episode 78.

10-10-2010, 06:18 AM
I saw a demo of Mari at the foundry booth at IBC last month.
Looks nice, you can paint both on the 3D mesh and on the UV layouts.
Shader setup looked a bit complicated but that's probably because I've never used it.

I was realy looking foreward to Mari, but now Zbrush has Spotlight added, texture painting is even easier then using Photoshop. In the end Mari doesn't add anything better than Zbrush for me.

10-10-2010, 10:20 AM
The idea of importing the OBJ and the animation into the paint app is pretty amazing to me.

10-10-2010, 12:18 PM
And what actual practical purpose would there to be for painting in animation mode? Like, sure, its cool, but... really....

10-10-2010, 12:23 PM
In the video I linked to above, they mention that it allows you to take a model where texture is getting distorted and edit it at the distortion point. Rather than say trying to eyeball how it is being distorted and trying to compensate in the standard pose.

Also allows you to see if something that reads well in a static pose still plays well when in motion.

Beyond the animation standpoint, the idea that they are stacking hundreds of 4K images (it can handle up to 32K image maps) I'm just impressed. I don't think they answered what type of hardware requirements though. I can't imaging it running that smoothly on my consumer grade PC.

10-10-2010, 12:26 PM
I suppose the idea is to be able to paint in deformations as well as checking how the texture stretches when deforming the mesh.

I concur it is a cool app but a luxury for most of us. There are many things way more important on our list-of-cool-software-to-buy.
Personally I would buy 3DCoat way before as it solves much better several pipeline issues.

EDIT: Dexter beat me to it. He´s a fast chap :)

10-10-2010, 03:30 PM
In the video I linked to above, they mention that it allows you to take a model where texture is getting distorted and edit it at the distortion point. Rather than say trying to eyeball how it is being distorted and trying to compensate in the standard pose.

True, but now that Zbrush got a timeline, I hope that something like that will be possible later on in Zbrush.
I'm not sure though if Mari can make and edit UV's though, but you'll need that if you wanna fight distortion.

10-10-2010, 06:50 PM
i have to agree with Kat here, it's a bit hyped i think...