What is pico?

Pico is a graphics engine which after slight modifications can be used also for interactive purposes like interactive digital art, games, presentations, screensavers, benchmarks and whatever you want. It may also be used as purely GPU driven renderer for Maya. In other words it can be used as very fast renderer for Maya. Those two purposes traditionally doesn’t fit together too well but in case of pico it’s a different story.

This movie will quickly describe the capabilities of pico:

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What’s a difference between pico and other rendering engines?

In most cases graphics artists use 3d editing systems (like Maya, 3DS Max, Softimage) to create content which next has to be checked in realtime standalone application (ie. on console).
Pico shows 100% percent of preview inside of Maya and completely mimics all changes in the interface that you apply. Of course there are programs such as FX Composer or Render Monkey which give you some sort of shader preview but they can’t be used as an editors for production quality animations. Also they don’t provide any meaningful tools for editing anything except for shaders.

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What’s a difference between pico and Maya hardware renderer?

Basically pico is much faster when it goes for rigid animated scenes (where models are not dynamically changed in each frame). Also we provide you with much robust and faster user interface to create fast shaders in realtime. Changing the textures and lighting models has never been so fast in Maya. Lastly pico gives you shaders for fast post processing (like glow, DOF, SSAO).
picoNativeShader gives you more combinations for DGS based shaders than all cgfx shaders provided with Maya.

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Can I write my own cgfx shaders in Maya?

Not yet. We’ve got everything almost ready. We are working on a new cgfx editing interface which will enable to quickly connect existing lights and textures. This means that you will not have to rewrite each light you want to connect. Also you will be able to control cgfx lights with regular manipulators and not by hand connecting them to some sort of artificial locators.

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Why I can’t export my scene to standalone application?

There are still some minor bugs that we need to clean before releasing this functionality. Hopefully you’ll will be able to share your realtime animated and interactive scenes pretty soon :D.

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Can I use it for commercial projects?

Yes you can! But please inform us what are you using pico for. It is just for ou curiosity and a pleasure of knowing that someone is ACTUALLY using our tools.

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So where is a hidden part? When do I pay?

You don’t pay at all. We have been given a chance to write and use those tools for our past projects. So let’s say it is a spin-off effect from our past work.
We want to support pico until it will be completely stable and functional. Of course we are still using it for our in house secret projects.

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What are the requirements? Will it work on my GPU?

Although pico runs on geForce 6, 7, 8 and ATI Radeon HD3xxx and newer, we strongly recommend to use geForce 8 or better. Also it would be best to have a big chunk of memory on GPU (this applies only in Maya). It’s mainly because it’s still under development.

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What about other platform ports? OSX or Linux maybe?

Sure why not, it should be portable. After all standalone viewer works on PS3. Our first task is to prove ourselves that pico is a working tool than a simple toy.

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What are the features of pico?

Except of having a possibility to preview your work in realtime and build interactive content you can have control over features like:

- soft shadows
- translucency
- depth of field
- normal mapping, cone step displacement mapping
- screen space ambient occlusion (SSAO)
- HDR imaging
- OpenEXR rendering
- lots of post processing effects
- easy user interface, much faster and robust than traditional maya hypershader

24 December 2008