As you might have seen already, Marmoset Toolbag 3.0 is already being used by some artists, who were fortunate to get their hands on the beta of the software. We’ve talked with Joe Wilson about the newest features of this package and how artists could benefit from these additions.

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Could you talk a little a little bit about Marmoset?

The history of Marmoset dates back to 8monkey Labs, which was a development studio focused on creating an epic time-traveling first person shooter called Darkest of Days. Somewhere along the line, we realized that we were better at making tools than games, and released the first version of Marmoset Toolbag. The initial release was little more than a model viewer we created to preview in-development art assets for DoD, however, we started to see a lot of interest from art communities like Polycount. With feedback from our excellent users we base began serious development of Toolbag as a standalone product.

Some time later, 8monkey Labs was disbanded, and a new company, Marmoset, was formed to focus solely on development tools such as Marmoset Toolbag. Around this time, a major change was taking place as well. The codebase for Toolbag was re-written from scratch to modernize the renderer, redesign the interface, and build a solid foundation for future development. We knew that if we really wanted to capitalize on the success of the first version, we had to improve image quality, and really focus on usability to ensure that Toolbag would be a critical part of the game artist’s toolkit.

In the last year or so we’ve been focusing on the third major revision of Toolbag (improvements to image quality, overall usability) and expanding functionality to enhance the experience for our current users, and really reach out to new users with tools and features that we feel are very compelling. The additions we’ve really been focusing on are: animation support, real-time global illumination, and baking. We’ve also been hard at work in many other areas as well, such as making it easier to work with game engines like Unreal and Unity, a brand new skin shader, direct upload to ArtStation, a refreshed user interface, and much more.

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Let’s talk about the current state of Marmoset Toolbag?

Toolbag 3’s raison d’être is speed, focusing on an efficient workflow that gives you an accurate, real-time preview at every step of the process  to create scenes, while also producing high-quality final renders in record time. In essence, we’re trying to bridge the gap between game engines and offline renderers, making it fast and easy to produce excellent images.

Our users are rather diverse; while our main demographic consists of game artists, we’ve spoken with many others who use Toolbag for pre-visualization work for film, advertising, production visualization and more.

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What animation tools do we get with Marmoset Toolbag 3?

The new animation system is one of the most complex and exciting features in Toolbag 3. Animation content can be imported via FBX and Alembic formats, enabling user to import animations from essentially any 3D application.

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Art by Krzysztof Teper

With FBX, we support rigged animations, blends shapes, and pretty much everything that the FBX format allows. Alembic is a cached geometry format, which opens up some very interesting possibilities, as the animated vertex data is saved to the file for each frame. What this means is that very complex rigs, or effects such as physics simulations can be imported into Toolbag via the Alembic format.

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Art by Daniel Palmi

In addition to imported animated content, we’ve also added a new timeline interface and a keyframe editor, which enables users to create and edit animations directly inside Toolbag 3. Currently, we support bespoke animation creation for objects, cameras (including post effects), and lights. It’s very easy to set up complex animations, for instance panning or flying through an environment, moving a character across a scene, creating lighting effects, and much more.

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Have you done any changes in the scene support with the newest version?

When it comes to more complex scenes, real-time global illumination is a huge benefit. GI provides large scale occlusion, bounced diffused lighting (aka color bleed), and much more accurate specular reflections, all of which really help to sell environments.

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Environment art is not the only area where GI shines through, GI works on a smaller scale as well. For instance, emissive surfaces act as light sources, so if you have a character with a torch, glowy bits, or even abstract objects with emissive materials, those elements will illuminate your scene, which opens up a lot of interesting possibilities.

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While the process of setting up scenes in Toolbag 3 will feel very familiar to current users, we’ve been working a bunch of ways to further integrate Toolbag into various pipelines.

You can now export Unity Packages to make importing your models and materials a breeze. Not only that, but you can export a tidy package of your scene and textures to send off to clients, as well as export meshes in common formats like FBX and OBJ.

We’ve developed an Unreal Engine plugin as well, that reads our .tbscene format and imports your models, and similar to the Unity Package exporter, automatically sets up materials as well. This plugin will be available on the Unreal Engine Marketplace.

Lastly, we’ve added features to upload renders, and Marmoset Viewer files, directly to ArtStation. We’ve included a handy preview option in the Viewer exporter as well.

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How do you work with materials in Toolbag 3?

The baker might be my favorite of the new additions to Toolbag 3. When we started working on texture baking in Toolbag, rather than simply following the trends of other bakers on the market, we really wanted to design a tool from the ground up that would be intuitive to use. I think this has led to some genuinely novel and innovative features.

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One of the main benefits of baking maps in Toolbag 3 is how the process can be approached in a holistic manner. For instance, when I create assets, I use Toolbag to preview my high poly as I block it out, including setting up material values to mimic various surfaces. Once my high poly is finalized, and I’m happy with my base materials, I’ll import my low poly and do a quick test bake. Toolbag 3 provides instant feedback when you change settings, so any issues are both easy to spot and correct. When I’m happy with my bake settings, I can output a myriad of maps such as tangent and object space normal maps, ambient occlusion, curvature, height, and material properties such as albedo, gloss, and specular. What’s more, we’ve included the ability to export a layered PSD file, which includes all your outputs, with base values and layer masks automatically set up for the material property maps. From initial high poly blockout/look-dev, to texturing the final asset, our baker ensures that Toolbag is an essential part of my workflow.

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That covers the basic process, however, there are some very cool things we’re doing on the technical side too. We have bake groups where you can isolate high and low poly pairs to avoid intersection errors, which makes the old method of exploding your high and low objects obsolete, plus a tool to load and organize your meshes into bake groups by naming conventions. We have visual tools for setting up your cage distance, and also a 3D painting tool that allows you to expand and shrink your cage in much the same way you would in a sculpting app. We also have a new tool that is completely unique to our software, which enables you to paint on your model to correct skewed detail.

When will you release the final build?

Marmoset Toolbag 3 will be available November 25th, 2016. We will provide an upgrade discount for our current users. More information will be available closer to release.

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Car insurance is cheaper with 9 points than zero no claims

Motorists who are one step away from a driving ban could be paying less for their car insurance than drivers with zero no-claims discount, new research has revealed. Insurances quotes were on average nearly 10 per cent cheaper for a typical UK driver with nine points on their license for speeding or other offences compared to those who have a no-claims discount, according to data from Vantage Leasing. It also found that drivers with six penalty points were cheaper to insure than motorists who had one, two or three years' no-claims bonus. The leasing specialist analysed which motorists are paying the least on their insurance through a number of factors including occupation, make of car and age. New: The study found parking on the road was the cheapest due to rise in keyless car attacks It conducted the research in April 2019 through multiple insurers, using a typical UK male and female driver profile with different variables analysed. The firm created a typical UK driver profile then researched quotes for every parameter (points on licence, no-claims, occupation, where car is parked) through car insurance comparison websites. The typical UK driver was found to be a male, 50 year old sales manager who is married and holds a full UK licence. They rack up on average 15,000 miles per year and the base default was that the typical driver had three points on their licence and five years of no-claims. The quick way and easy to save on car insurance We list our ten tips to find the best car insurance deal below - but for a quick money-saver, you should use a comparison site. If you've not done this before, it could save you hundreds of pounds on a renewal quote. This is a simple and easy way to compare prices and while results will broadly be the same across most comparison sites, they may slightly differ, so it is worth checking a couple. Our recommendations of those to try are > Compare the Market > MoneySupermarket > Confused.com Some insurers don't appear on comparison sites and are worth checking directly. The main two are Direct Line and Aviva. Insurance costs for cars are broken down into car insurance groups, ranging from group one to group fifty with group one the cheapest to insure. When reviewing their results, it also found that a Skoda Fabia was Britain's cheapest group one car to insure with owners paying an average annual quote of £413.67 a year. This was followed closely by the Nissan Micra at £417.25 a year and the Seat Mii, which cost on average £459.03 for annual cover. CHEAPEST CARS TO INSURE Car Average quote 1 SKODA Fabia Petrol 1.0 manual 5dr SE MPI 75 £413.67 2 Nissan Micra 2019 1.0L Manual 5dr VISIA Hatchback £417.25 3 SEAT Mii S 1.0 Manual 3dr S (60) Hatchback £459.03 4 Skoda Citigo Petrol 1.0L Manual 3dr S (60) Hatchback £464.94 5 VW UP Petrol 1.0L Manual 3dr TAKE UP! 60 Hatchback £473.37 6 Chevrolet Spark 1.0L annual 5dr LS Hatchback £489.41 7 Kia Rio 1.2L Manual 5dr 2 Hatchback £491.19 8 Smart FORFOUR PURE Petrol 1.0L £512.14 9 Ford Ka+ 1.2L Manual 5dr STUDIO TI-VCT 70 Hatchback £523.01 10 Hyundai I10 1.0 manual 5dr S Hatchback £567.65 Source: Vantage Leasing A Skoda Fabia has been found as the cheapest car to insure by Vantage Leasing's study Vantage Leasing also looked into common misconceptions about methods to reduce insurance costs, including that parking in a locked garage will give you cheaper premiums than leaving your car on the road or driveway. It found that parking on the road was actually the cheapest option on average, costing nearly 10 per cent less for insurance when compared to leaving a vehicle in a locked garage. Parking on the road was also found to be marginally cheaper than parking on the driveway. Car thefts rose by nine per cent last year, a recent Office for National Statistics report revealed, with much of the rise blamed on the recent spike in keyless car theft tactics. The sharp increase of these thefts, which often use 'transmitter relay' attacks that target cars who have keyless entry systems, could be to blame for lower insurance quotes for cars parked on surrounding roads. A motorists occupation can also have some impact on insurance quotes with the riskiest jobs meaning quotes come in around 20 per cent more expensive than those that are considered safer. Computer programmers are among the cheapest to insure, with their insurance costing on average £553.37 a year. This was closely followed by sales executives at £572.44 a year and bookkeepers also at £572.44. CHEAPEST CAR INSURANCE BY OCCUPATION Occupation Average quote 1 Computer programmer (information technology) £553.37 2 Sales Executive (retailing) £572.44 3 Book-keeper (finance) £572.44 4 Admin officer (retail) £577.22 5 Teacher (education) £592.57 6 Sales assistant (Retail) £613.89 7 Cleaner (cleaning services) £614.46 8 Nurse (health authority) £635.99 9 Care worker (professional NHS) £658.17 10 Catering staff (food store) £659.27 Source: Vantage Leasing However, catering staff are deemed to be among the riskiest, paying over £100 more a year than programmers at £659.27. With regards to age, a typical young driver is impacted harder by driving convictions compared to an older driver with their occupation seeing quotes vary as much as 30 per cent. The average cost of yearly insurance for a typical young driver, which Vantage worked out would be a 21 year old, with nine points is a massive £2,037 whilst for a typical driver, it is £801 - well over a thousand pounds cheaper. Vantage Leasing Managing Director, Rob Walker, said: 'The research is eye-opening, dispelling common myths including that penalty points could spell disaster when it comes to insurance costs. 'We also see how the latest trends in car crime such as keyless theft can impact how insurers view risk – hence why parking on the road at night is often cheaper. 'While the research shows what a typical male or female driver can expect, it doesn't cover every eventuality, and some may find their circumstances produce different results. 'It does, however, provide some intriguing insights into the ever-evolving nature of vehicle insurance.' Medical professionals are most at fault... Another study by Go Compare found that medical professionals have the most at-fault claims. The comparison site analysed over seven million car insurance quotes from its database across the previous 12 months for people with over 1400 professions. It found that paediatricians have the highest rate of at-fault claims with 17 per cent having made one or more claim. Psychiatrists were the second highest with 14 per cent having one or more claim whilst 12.2 per cent of both hospital consultants and surgeons also had one or more claims. Other occupations in the top ten list included museum consultants, transcribers and vicars. Go Compare also looked at the top ten occupations of people who have been found using a device when speeding. Psychoanalysts were the worst culprits with 4.3 per cent getting caught. Dog breeders and pest control were the second and third most guilty parties with 2 per cent of people from both professions being caught in the act. Lee Griffin, founding member of Go Compare, said: 'Your occupation is one of the key considerations used to calculate the cost of your premium. Ultimately, different professions are deemed riskier than others, so the chances are, if you're a footballer or a GP, you're likely to face higher premiums than a priest.'

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