London — Visual effects software developer The Foundry announced that animation studio LAIKA has purchased a site license of KATANA and plans to fully implement the software on its next feature film production.

LAIKA is the world-renowned animation studio behind the Academy Award-nominated Coraline (2009), the first stop-motion feature film to be conceived and photographed in stereoscopic 3D, and forthcoming release, ParaNorman (in 3D in select theatres this summer).

LAIKA’s decision to purchase a site license comes as the VFX team looks for ways to better manage the consistency of lighting and handle increasingly complex shots. KATANA will now help them to build a more asset-driven pipeline with better control over the looks of their CG materials.

The node-based approach will allow them to create and manage looks for large numbers of assets with minimal setup between tasks. It will also streamline shot lighting workflows and let them easily maintain standards and rigs across multiple assets, shots and sequences.

Andrew Nawrot, CG and Look Development Supervisor at LAIKA comments: “KATANA’s procedural workflow makes perfect sense for feature film look development and lighting. KATANA’s core features were driven directly out of large-scale visual effects production and this makes it an incredibly unique, flexible and effective platform for look development and lighting. With stop-motion, the scope of the sets and environments as well as the quantity of characters has traditionally been bound by the physical dimensions of the stages. With KATANA’s ability to handle incredibly complex environments and thousands of assets, we’re able to keep up with the increasingly expansive stop-motion worlds in which our films are set.”

Originally developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks, KATANA takes an innovative recipe based approach, enabling facilities large and small to build highly scalable and efficient lighting pipelines without a large internal engineering effort.

Jeff Stringer, Director of Production Technology at LAIKA comments: “In each successive film at LAIKA, we are more ambitious than the last. We expect that KATANA will put our VFX team in a better position to scale up the complexity of their work on these films. The team at The Foundry has been very attentive and responsive to us as we work through the integration. It is a collaborative effort, since many of the tools we need are developed at The Foundry. We knew we could expect this as we have enjoyed years of good support from them with NUKE.”

Andy Lomas, KATANA Product Manager at The Foundry comments: ”LAIKA is a wonderful addition to the growing portfolio of KATANA clients. KATANA is incredibly versatile and can be used on all types of productions including live action, CG and stop-motion. We are excited to be working with such a respected studio and can’t wait to see their first KATANA project.”

KATANA 1.0 was released in October 2011 and is already in use in production at Industrial Light and Magic, Digital Domain, Sony Pictures ImageWorks and most recently, Reliance MediaWorks and Spin VFX.

KATANA continues to be under evaluation at a number of studios, both large and small.

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Chris Arrant

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