Nukeygara has released Akeytsu 2020.2, the latest version of its unconventional character animation tool, and its “most ambitious release since version one”.
The update adds experimental support for animated cameras, intended to enable users to create cinematics as well as in-game animation; and support for animation retargeting.
A rigging and animation tool designed by artists, for artists
Released in 2017 after several years in beta, Akeytsu is intended to rethink the process of character rigging and animation “for artists, not engineers”.
It features an unconventional user interface designed to display the character being rigged as large as possible, with a full-screen viewport and a set of unique floating controls.
The default skeleton can be manipulated in FK or IK mode, and dispenses with rig controls: users click directly on the skinned mesh to pose the character. Animation curves are displayed directly in the viewport.
Characters can be imported from other DCC applications or exported to game engines in FBX format: the default skeleton has templates for both Unity and Unreal Engine.
The software is currently mainly used by game developers, primarily indie studios.
In beta: new camera animation for cinematics and pre-rendered content
The headline change in Akeytsu 2020.2 is the experimental new camera system, ultimately intended to make it possible to animate cinematics – or other pre-rendered content – as well as in-game motions.
Users can animate a camera’s position, look-at target and field of view; and there is a basic set of other camera properties, including aspect ratio and near and far clipping distance.
It is possible to switch cameras between free movement and look-at modes by right-clicking, and there is a neat option to reposition a camera, then move a character to the new target position automatically.
Once created, camera animations can be imported or exported in FBX format.
In addition, Akeytsu’s signature Spinner controller gets a new Screen Space mode, which aligns the axes used for manipulating scene objects with those of the viewport camera.
New retargeting system for keyframe animations or mocap data
The other major new feature in Akeytsu 2020.2 is animation retargeting, making it possible to transfer animations between characters with different proportions, so long as they share a common skeletal structure.
Users can import either one Akeytsu .akt scene file into another and transfer motion between the two characters; or import mocap data in BVH format for retargeting.
New features for rigging artists
Rigging artists get a new Sticky Aim mode, which makes it possible to reposition a joint without moving either its parent or child joints, as shown in the image above.
Akeytsu’s existing Biped Auto Rig system has also been updated. Changes include the option to refine finger rigging manually, and to adjust skin weighting before a rig is mirrored, rather than after.
Pricing and availability
Akeytsu 2020.2 is available for Windows Vista and above. At the time of posting, the Mac version hasn’t been updated from Akeytsu 2019.4, which runs on macOS 10.12+.
An Indie licence, for artists or studios earning under $100,000/year, costs $239; a Pro licence costs $699. Akeytsu Live subscriptions start at $14.99/month for Indie users, or $39.99/month for Pro users.
Indie Akeytsu Live subscriptions also act as a ‘rent to own’ plan: users who have subcribed for at least 12 of the previous 15 calendar months eligible to pay a further $59.99 for a perpetual licence.
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