The Tool Chefs, makers of some great tools for Autodesk May and Lightwave are busy readying a new tool for both Maya and Houdini. Atoms Crowd takes aim to make crowd animation available to anyone. Typically, crowd tools are difficult for artists to use. They tend to be more technical tools, requiring scripting, programming and complex logic to get simulations going. There are certainly more artist driven tools for mass character simulations, such as Golaem, which was developed to be an affordable jump for artists into developing crowd sims.
Atoms claims to make the process for making simulations even easier. You don’t need a particular skill set to layout shots and simulate them. You will be able to literally create a simulation with a few clicks. Atoms still leaves the simulation up to the artist, it doesn’t take any decision away from you. You will always have final say as to how and what happens.
Even though the Tool Chefs’ tool focuses on ease of use, it is still very customizable. If you like to work with nodes, you can. If you like to script with python, or write C++ plugins, Atoms crowd still has something to offer for each, with C++ and Python API’s for pipeline integrations.
More information can be found on ToolChefs, and at Siggraph Booth SG9.