Autodesk has announced MotionBuilder 2009, the latest version of its real-time 3D character animation solution for games, film and television projects. The 2009 version offers improved visualizations within the 3D viewport, a toolset for real-time simulation and expanded scripting capabilities for tighter pipeline integration.

Animators now have the ability to perform rigid body dynamic simulations inside the software, which Autodesk says gives them a more efficient workflow for producing realistic animations. Support for real-time collisions prevents interpenetration of characters, objects and other scene elements. This is particularly useful for those looking to efficiently edit 3D animations involving characters interacting with objects, according to the company. Also, the addition of a Rag Doll solver allows users to perform simulations dynamically, such as a character falling and hitting the ground. Artists can control the behaviour of their character by layering animation on top of this simulation for increased realism.

Autodesk says that MotionBuilder 2009 enhances support for industry-standard digital content creation applications, so that both technical directors and developers can integrate the software into a production pipeline and bring data across quickly and accurately. The Python scripting language now includes a full script editor with syntax checking and command highlighting, which enables technical directors to create custom tools and scripts more efficiently. Enhanced support is also available for workflows involving MotionBuilder and the Autodesk 3ds Max software’s Biped system or the Autodesk Maya software’s Full Body Inverse Kinematics (FBIK) character rig.

MotionBuilder 2009 provides support for advanced hardware shaders, improving the quality of the real-time display in the viewport. New Normal Mapping CG shader support allows artists to work with existing normal maps created in Maya, 3ds Max or Mudbox software and view them in real-time in the viewport. Furthermore, the new Light Attenuation CG shader lets artists achieve greater levels of subtlety and realism by giving them more control over the attenuation and fall-off of their real-time lighting. Also, MotionBuilder now supports version 2.0 of the CgFX library, enabling animators to take advantage of the latest CgFX shader technology.

Autodesk says that MotionBuilder 2009 will be available in October 2008. The software will be available for 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, now including the 64-bit version of Microsoft Windows Vista Business. The Autodesk suggested retail price for MotionBuilder 2009 software is £2,975 plus VAT (€4,475). The Autodesk suggested retail price to upgrade from MotionBuilder 7.5 to MotionBuilder 2009 is £875 plus VAT (€1,125).