Interview with Takashima-san of Platinum Games

April 6, 2017

Masanori Takashima is a facial animator/rigger who works at Platinum Games, a well-known game development studio in Osaka, Japan that recently celebrated their 10th anniversary. In his free time, he loves to experiment with Fabric Engine and share his work on the Fabric forums where he is known as TKCM. This enthusiasm has resulted in Platinum Games becoming a Fabric Engine customer, so we’re delighted to have had the chance to interview him!

Masanori Takashima

How did you get into game development?

I joined Platinum Games quite a while ago, when it was just being founded. I had come from another profession and so I really started out fresh. Initially, we were using Softimage and I began using ICE when it came out.

Curve WrapFigure 1: Curve wrapping example in Fabric Engine (see rings in middle of frame). See video at end of article.

 

How did you become aware of Fabric Engine?

A few years ago, our studio switched from Softimage to a Maya pipeline. By then, I was finally feeling like I could use ICE to create almost any type of rig I wanted, so I wanted to make sure that I could have that same freedom in whatever came next. I started looking for a solution that could create rigs with really clean movement in Maya, and I found a blog post written in 2014 about Fabric Engine. I decided to try Fabric as it seemed very flexible.


“Fabric does a great job of supporting the latest DCC tools upon announcement/release, which lets me move to whatever environment I feel is best for my work.”


Curve WrapFigure 2: Procedural feather tool built in Fabric Engine, inspired by Psyop.

What was your initial impression of Fabric?

First, I ran some tests to see if moving to Fabric Engine would be feasible. I set myself the task of recreating the rigs that I had created with ICE in Softimage using the combination of Fabric Engine and Maya. I had really surprising results. Not only was I able to recreate the rigs, I was seeing frame rate playback performance improvements from the new Fabric Engine rigs. And this was without any sort of optimization at all. I don’t consider myself a hardcore programmer, but the parallel processing code (PEX) is pretty easy to write, and the performance gains it creates are really strong.

Please explain a project where you used Fabric in an interesting way.

Right now I am doing some tests around skinning and procedural modeling; however, these are just early tests to get accustomed with things. I tend to use Fabric with Maya. From a beginner’s perspective, it was great to discover that when creating custom manipulators, I can trigger Mel code inside Maya using Fabric Engine. This tight integration with the host DCC tool really expands the possibilities when creating new tools.

Curve WrapFigure 3: Multi-channel weight mapping using Fabric Engine.

What do you see as the “sweet spot” for Fabric Engine in a studio?

Fabric Engine has a reputation for being very portable. Most people hear this and think it applies to its portability between different DCC packages like Maya and modo, but I find Fabric Engine’s portability between different versions of the same DCC to be a strong benefit as well. Tools that I’ve created using Fabric Engine all run smoothly in Maya 2015, 2016, 2016.5, and 2017. Fabric does a great job of supporting the latest DCC tools upon announcement/release, which lets me move to whatever environment I feel is best for my work. Really, it also makes the cost of supporting in-house tools created with Fabric Engine much lower. I think this benefit that I have discovered for myself would extend out across an entire studio.

What do you plan to use Fabric for next?

Next, I’m planning to create a production level, artist friendly procedural modeling tool.

Currently, our studio has only used Fabric Engine for facial rigging, but I’ve discovered lots of ways we could use our rigging implementation methods in procedural modeling as well. After a little more research, I think I’ll be ready to start sharing this info with the rest of the studio and helping more people in the company recognize Fabric Engine’s usefulness. This plan is still in a pretty early phase, though.

Masanori Takashima Curve Wrapping | Fabric Engine used for wrapping selected objects around curves