KATANA is a 3D application designed for lookdev and lighting in an asset based pipeline. It is designed as the tool to assemble all the assets created by different departments, create lights, add shaders, set edits and overrides, and export passes to render in a range of different production renderers.
In particular KATANA is designed to solve the problems of how to allow updates of assets once lighting has already started, how to allow lighters to set edits and over-rides on any attribute in a non-destructive manner, and how to deal with scenes of potentially unlimited complexity.
It has been in development at Sony Pictures Imageworks for over 6 years and has been used on all their shows since Beowulf and Surf's Up. That means that it is already production proven doing full-scale CG Feature Animation and VFX films, with credits including Spiderman 3, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Alice in Wonderland.
The main news is that we are now working to make KATANA into its own product. Our original plans were to focus on using technology from KATANA in other The Foundry products, but after discussions with a number potential clients we believe that KATANA also makes sense as a separate product in its own right.
We are working closely with Sony Imageworks on this. They are continuing development of KATANA for their own use while we focus on the engineering work to make KATANA into an adaptable solution suitable for use in a wide range of different pipelines.
We are also moving ahead with our original plans of making use of some of the key technology from KATANA in NUKE and other products from The Foundry. In fact there's a lot going on in NUKE on the 3D side.
The first thing we're working on is using KATANA to translate between NUKE and RenderMan, allowing users to render NUKE's 3D scene with Pixar's Photorealistic Renderman. This should allow you to make use of data from NUKE in RenderMan lighting pipelines, and make sure things like depth of field and motion blur match perfectly between CG renders and NUKE.
Using KATANA as a base enables us to support a number of other production renderers in the future, leveraging its render-agnostic approach to handling 3D scene data.
This is just the first step. By using KATANA technology we plan to be able to really enhance how NUKE and other products from The Foundry can fit into a 3D pipeline, bringing in more complex scene assets as well as provide output to a variety of different renderers.
We're also working to allow NUKE to work very closely with KATANA, so that compositors can pick up richer scene data and configure 3D render passes that they may need without having to go back to 3D.
At the same time we're also working to improve NUKE internal 3D rendering capabilities, in particular to support reflections, refractions and shadows.