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Modo (stylized as MODO, originally modo) is a polygon and subdivision surface modeling, sculpting, 3D painting, animation and rendering package developed by Luxology, LLC, which is now merged with and known as Foundry. The program incorporates features such as n-gons and edge weighting, and runs on Microsoft Windows, Linux and macOS platforms.
|Developer(s)||The Foundry Visionmongers|
11.2v1  / 8 November 2017
|Operating system||Windows, Linux, macOS|
|Type||3D computer graphics|
Modo was created by the same core group of software engineers that previously created the pioneering 3D application LightWave 3D, originally developed on the Amiga platform and bundled with the Amiga-based Video Toaster workstations that were popular in television studios in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They are based in Mountain View, California.
In 2001, senior management at NewTek (makers of LightWave) and their key LightWave engineers disagreed regarding the notion for a complete rewrite of LightWave's work-flow and technology.[self-published source?] NewTek's Vice President of 3D Development, Brad Peebler, eventually left Newtek to form Luxology, and was joined by Allen Hastings and Stuart Ferguson (the lead developers of Lightwave), along with some of the LightWave programming team members (Arnie Cachelin, Matt Craig, Greg Duquesne, Yoshiaki Tazaki).
After more than three years of development work, Modo was demonstrated at Siggraph 2004 and released in September of the same year. In April 2005, the high-end visual effects studio Digital Domain integrated Modo into their production pipeline. Other studios to adopt Modo include Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic, Zoic Studios, id Software, Eden FX, Studio ArtFX, The Embassy Visual Effects, Naked Sky Entertainment and Spinoff Studios.
At Siggraph 2005, Modo 201 was announced. This promised many new features including the ability to paint in 3D (à la ZBrush, BodyPaint 3D), multi-layer texture blending, as seen in LightWave, and, most significantly, a rendering solution which promised physically-based shading, true lens distortion, anisotropic reflection blurring and built-in polygon instancing. Modo 201 was released on 24 May 2006.
Modo 201 was the winner of the Apple Design Awards for Best Use of Mac OS X Graphics for 2006. In October 2006, Modo also won "Best 3D/Animation Software" from MacUser magazine. In January 2007, Modo won the Game Developer Frontline Award for "Best Art Tool".
Modo 202 was released on 1 August 2006. It offered faster rendering speed and several new tools including the ability to add thickness to geometry. A 30-day full-function trial version of the software was made available.
In March 2007, Luxology released Modo 203 as a free update. It included new UV editing tools, faster rendering and a new DXF translator.
The release of Modo 301 on 10 September 2007 added animation and sculpting to its toolset. The animation tools include being able to animate cameras, lights, morphs and geometry as well as being able to import .mdd files. Sculpting in Modo 301 is done through mesh based and image based sculpting (vector displacement maps) or a layered combination of both.
Modo 302, was released on 3 April 2008 with some tool updates, more rendering and animation features and a physical sky and sun model. Modo 302 was a free upgrade for existing users. Modo 303 was skipped in favor of the development of Modo 401.
Modo 401 shipped on 18 June 2009. This release has many animation and rendering enhancements and is newly available on 64-bit Windows. On 6 October 2009, Modo 401 SP2 was released followed by Modo 401 SP3 on 26 January 2010 and SP5 on 14 July of the same year.
Modo 501 shipped on 15 December 2010. This version was the first to run on 64-bit Mac OS X. It contains support for Pixar Subdivision Surfaces, faster rendering and a visual connection editor for creating re-usable animation rigs.
Modo 601 shipped on 29 February 2012. This release offers additional character animation tools, dynamics, a general purpose system of deformers, support for retopology modeling and numerous rendering enhancements.
Modo 701 shipped on 25 March 2013. This offered audio support, a Python API for writing plugins, additional animation tools and layout, more tightly integrated dynamics, and a procedural particle system along with other rendering enhancements such as render proxy and environment importance sampling. During subsequent Service Packs, FBX 2013 support was added and numerous major performance improvements were made (for example, tiled EXR usage became several orders of magnitude faster to match the competition).
Modo 801 shipped on 25 April 2014. This brought a rework of the referencing system; renderer improvements; nodal shading; UDIM support (for MARI interoperation - another Foundry product); dynamics and particles improvements; deformer updates (Bézier, Wrap, Lattice); motion capture retargeting (through the IKinema library used to deliver Full Body IK since 601). Additionally, animation workflow was improved based on adaptations of classic animator tools (extremes, breakdowns, etc.)
The latest version is 11.2v1.
Modo's workflow differs substantially from many other mainstream 3D applications. While Maya and 3ds Max stress using the right tool for the job, Modo artists typically use a much smaller number of basic tools and combine them to create new tools using the Tool Pipe and customizable action centers and falloffs.
Modo allows an artist to choose the "pivot point" of a tool or action in realtime simply by clicking somewhere. Thus, Modo avoids making the artist invoke a separate "adjust pivot point" mode. In addition, the artist can tell Modo to derive a tool's axis orientation from the selected or clicked on element, bypassing the needs for a separate "adjust tool axis" mode.
Any tool can be modified with customizable falloff, which modifies its influence and strength according to geometric shapes. Radial falloff will make the current tool affect elements in the center of a resizable sphere most strongly, while elements at the edges will be barely affected at all. Linear falloff will make the tool affect elements based on a gradient that lies along a user-chosen line, etc.
Modo allows an artist to paint directly onto 3D models and even paint instances of existing meshes onto the surface of an object. The paint system allows users to use a combination of tools, brushes and inks to achieve many different paint effects and styles. Examples of the paint tools in Modo are airbrush, clone, smudge, and blur. These tools are paired with your choice of "brush" (such as soft or hard edge, procedural). Lastly, you add an ink, an example of which is image ink, where you paint an existing image onto a 3D model. Pressure-sensitive tablets are supported. The results of painting are stored in a bitmap and that map can be driving anything in Modo's Shader Tree. Thus you can paint into a map that is acting as a bump map and see the bumps in real-time in the viewport.
Modo's renderer is multi-threaded and scales nearly linearly with the addition of processors or processor cores. That is, an 8-core machine will render a given image approximately eight times as fast as a single-core machine with the same per-core speed. Modo runs on up to 32 cores and offers the option of network rendering.
In addition to the standard renderer, which can take a long time to run with a complex scene on even a fast machine, Modo has a progressive preview renderer which renders to final quality if left alone. Modo's user interface allows you to configure a work space that includes a preview render panel, which renders continuously in the background, restarting the render every time you change the model. This gives a more accurate preview of your work in progress as compared to the typical hardware shading options. In practice, this means you can do fewer full test renders along the way toward completion of a project. The preview renderer in Modo 401 offers progressive rendering, meaning the image resolves to near final image quality if you let it keep running.
Modo material assignment is done via a shader tree that is layer-based rather than node-based. As of version 801, node-based shading is a part of the work flow as well.
Modo's renderer is a physically based ray-tracer. It includes features like caustics, dispersion, stereoscopic rendering, fresnel effects, subsurface scattering, blurry refractions (e.g. frosted glass), volumetric lighting (smokey bar effect), and Pixar-patented Deep Shadows.
This section may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards, as Long list of features resembling marketing blurb. (May 2009)
- Tool Pipe for creating customized tools
- Scripting (Perl, Python, Lua)
- Customizable User Interface
- Extensive file input and output
Key modeling featuresEdit
- N-gon modeling (subdivided polygons with >4 points) and
- Mesh Instancing
- Retopology Tools
- A powerful sculpting toolset
- Procedural modeling with "Mesh Operators"
- MeshFusion (Non destructive subD boolean operations)
Key animation featuresEdit
- Animate virtually any item's properties (geometry, camera, lights)
- Layerable deformers
- Morph target animation
- Rigging with full-body Inverse kinematics
- Dynamic parenting
Key rendering featuresEdit
- Global Illumination
- Physical Sun and Sky
- Displacement Rendering
- Interactive Render Preview
- IEEE Floating Point Accuracy
- Subsurface scattering
- Instance Rendering
- Physically Based Shading Model
- Motion Blur
- Volumetric rendering
- Depth of Field
- Network Rendering
- 3d paint toolset
Modo once included imageSynth, a Plug-in for creating seamless textures in Adobe Photoshop CS1 or later. This bundle ended with the release of Modo 301. Luxology has announced that the imageSynth plugin for Photoshop has been retired.
- "Foundry and Luxology Merge". fxGuide. fxGuide.com LLC. 25 September 2012.
- "Modo 11.2v1 Details". thefoundry.co.uk. The Foundry Visionmongers. 8 November 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
- Cohen, Peter (10 June 2005). "Luxology modo ready for Intel switch". Macworld. IDG. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
- "Modo – What Lightwave Should Have Become". The Foundry Forums. Self-published. 21 June 2007.[self-published source?]
- "@luxology on Twitter". Twitter. Self-published. 26 January 2010.
- Tracy, David (23 February 2011). "ImageSynth has been retired". The Foundry Forums. Luxology.