|CGSociety :: Technology Focus|
25 May 2010, by Paul Hellard
Mari is a texture projection painting system developed by The Foundry R&D department and the texture department at Weta Digital. This 3D texture application is able to handle up to 30K textures and produce production-ready assets.
The development of Mari started just after 'King Kong'. "Doing the texturing for 'King Kong' was a bit of an epic struggle," says Jack Greasley, Product Manager of Mari, now at The Foundry. "This was mainly because of the tools that were available at the time. After 'King Kong', the 'Avatar' art reel turned up, we all had a look at what we would have to go thru and quickly decided that we couldn't go through all the problems we'd had on 'King Kong' and decided we had to write a new system that met the crew's requirements. At that point, I was brought in to design Mari from scratch for them."
It was actually 13 or 14 months before it was usable in any way, shape or form. There was a very embryonic version of Mari at that point, mainly because Jack and his team had to do some fairly heavy engineering under the hood to make sure they could get the scalability that was required. The first exercise were some sweat marks for a character in 'Avatar', the six legged horse. "This was a fairly simple set up," says Jack. "From that point onwards we released features day by day for the artists, and sometimes two or three times a day."