The Foundry's Mari screen grab

At SIGGRAPH last week, The Foundry started spreading the word that it had licensed the proprietary Paint 3D technology developed by Walt Disney Animation Studios for future versions of its new Mari texture-painting tool. The deal represents the first time Disney has licensed its animation software to another company. As part of the deal, Disney will now sit on a Mari steering committee to help determine future directions for the software.

Paint 3D made its first appearance in 2005, on Disney's Chicken Little, and is currently used on all the studio's animated projects including the upcoming Tangled. Acquisition of the technology will open up the possibilites for Mari to incorporate Ptex, the open-source texture-mapping library developed by Disney that eliminates the need for UV mapping and allows the storage of hundreds of thousands of texture images in a single file. Bolt was the first feature film to use Ptex, and the technology was integrated with Pixar's RenderMan last year.

Mari itself has its roots at Weta Digital, where the technology was originally developed for look-development and texture work on Avatar. "It's streets ahead of other 3D-painting applications in terms of the size of data it can handle," The Foundry Chief Scientist Simon Robinson told StudioDaily. He also noted that The Foundry's success taking on Nuke, which was originally developed by Digital Domain, and integrating lighting-pipeline technology from Sony Pictures Imageworks may have contributed to Disney's willingness to license the Paint 3D system. "It's extremely flattering that we're seen as enabling distributors of this technology," he said.

Double Negative and Framestore are among the early users of the first release of Mari. The software is now available for Linux, with a Q3 release penciled in for a Windows version, Robinson said.

The Foundry also announced release 2.1 of its Ocula suite of Nuke plug-ins for stereographic post-production, adding a "hugely improved" ColourMatcher for correcting color differences introduced by beamsplitting rigs; improving the quality of and broadening the parameters for generating disparity maps in DisparityGenerator; adding a new DisparityViewer plug-in; and making improvements to the VerticalAligner and Solver tools.

And Nuke itself got an update to 6.1. The new release now supports Ultimatte for keying, along with Primatte, Keylight, and Nuke's internal IBK keyer. 3D snapping and selection have been added for faster creation of cards to attach to geometry. Nuke now offers FBX export as well as import, and handles the latest version of the R3D codec for newer RED cameras using the Mysterium sensor. Red Rocket is also hardware accelerated in this version of Nuke. It also features new roto-and-paint features, plus an upgrade to FrameCycler Pro 2009 and its 64-bit support and dual-stream stereo playback.