Notch Release Rundown: 0.9.23.162

Continuing our series of getting you dense release notes summarized in an easy to digest fashion, we’ve got a big Notch release today that just dropped! It’s the first release since the beginning of August and it’s packed with new features, new nodes, bug fixes, and lots of other updates. It’s an exciting one and we’re here to give you the round up and give you our professional opinion on updating for your project.

New nodes!

We’ve got a few new nodes that may be helpful to folks working in virtual productions. The main one is the new Select Render Layer For Child Nodes. It’s a node that allows you to shift objects between front plates and back plates either by manually assigning objects or by using a dynamic clipping plane or bounding box. We also have a new Freeze Geometry node which optimizes 3D scenes and stages by freezing the geometry and their materials into a single unified and optimized mesh. Again for virtual productions important stages and large environments, being able to freeze and optimize the parts that aren’t dynamic could be a game-changer. There are also 2 new nodes for helping dealing with strings. One is the Text As Value modifier which turns string number into floats for use in your project and the other is Date As Text which gives you a nice looking date that you can drop into your content without a bunch of scripting.

New samples and templates

If you’re into virtual production, this is for you: there are 4 new templates geared around how to setup virtual productions plates, stages, render pipelines, and optimizing your geometry scenes. Make sure to take a look whether you’re just getting into virtual productions or if you’re already a veteran, there will be some nice tricks to take away.

SDK Updates

Y’all know I love me some SDK updates. Major updates in this include version include:

  • FBX SDK updated to 2020.0.1
  • Alembic SDK updated to 1.7.12
  • Realsense2 SDK updated to v2.38.1
  • Cineware SDK updated to v22.004
  • Intel Open Image Denoise updated to v1.2.3

This means if you’ve been using a lot of FBX or ABC geometry and seeing any issues, an update is in order. Also if you’re using Realsense cameras, you might have some fixes/better reliability in your future.

New features

There are lots of awesome new features in this release. Without going crazy, here are some highlights that I think will be useful to folks:

  • When importing geometry, a new Flatten Scene To Object button is there which can bring performance optimizations to your imports
  • Lots of additions to the FBX import pipeline so that it now supports 3D Studio Max PBR materials, importing information about light types/attenuation/angles/colour/intensity, and camera field of view animations
  • Bake your materials easily by right clicking on them and selecting Cache Material
  • Face Tracker node now supports NVIDIA AR SDK, which you’ve probably seen crazy demoes of (requires extra software to be installed, see full patch notes by clicking here)
  • Environment Map and Environment Image nodes now support equirectangular vr360 mappings for use with 360 cameras
  • Added support for OBJ sequences when importing
  • Lots of nice stability/quality-of-life updates to Kinect Azure integration and the Depth Camera / Kinect Source node

The list goes on for quite a while but those ones will be things that most users can immediately jump into working with.

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Notable bug fixes & optimization

There are a lot of bug fixes in this release and a lot of focus on built in optimizations and giving you more ways to optimize scenes. A few highlights from a large list of fixes:

  • Layer Precomp node fixed a bug that could cause Notch to crash when editing the node’s properties
  • A number of memory leaks were fixed that occurred when baking lighting in a scene
  • Fixes to Sky Light node’s performance when AO mode and ray tracing were not enabled
  • Fixed a bug that would cause Notch to crash during Render Queues if it tried to write to a destination drive that did not exist
  • Fixed Planar Reflection node sometimes reflecting the wrong geometry when used with a Render Layer node

While these may be not as exciting as all the new nodes and features, there’s a good focus on making sure your installations run smoothly over the long term.

Pro recommendation

This is quite a meaty release, so if you’re currently working on something that delivers it’s final version in the next 2 weeks, we’d suggest continuing to use your current version unless you’re working on a virtual production and some of these features could make delivery much easier or this build fixes a crash you’re experiencing. If you’ve got 3+ weeks, it would be worth upgrading to take advantage of all the new nodes, features, templates, and more. The general optimization should give a bit of extra FPS to most high-end projects.

Full release notes

Click the button below to read the full release notes. You may find something interesting in there that I didn’t pull out but that might apply to a current project you’re working on!

Wrap up

I love me a good software release and the newest 0.9.23.162 (that really rolls off the tongue!) build of Notch has a ton of new samples, templates, nodes, features, and fixes that seem immediately usable by most folks. Hopefully this post helps get you excited to try them out too!