ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.2 - MAY 1999

Technology

New Technology Puts Animators Back In Control. House of Moves, one of the largest motion capture studios in the world, has created its own motion capture software technology, dubbed Dominatrix, which it now offers as a value-added service to its clients. Dominatrix addresses several problems including solving proportional differences between the CG character and motion capture performer, as well as virtually eliminating the lack of control that the animator has to modify or augment the performance. "There's no waiting for delivery of a mocap skeleton, no need to give your character parts names, no need to store thousands of mocap files separately, no need to be concerned if the motion data importer is going to cooperate, and it's not necessary to scale or pose the character to match the motion capture skeleton," Jarrod Phillips, Executive Producer, explained. "In effect," Phillips concludes, "HOM's new Dominatrix technology gives a character more realistic qualities and allows the client virtually complete artistic control. It's the ultimate in customized digital motion." For further information, visit www.moves.com.

SGI Launches Digital Media Production Suite. SGI has announced a suite of digital media content creation tools designed to enhance the digital media capabilities of the new Silicon Graphics 320 and Silicon Graphics(R) 540 visual workstations. The digital media production suite brings production-quality broadcast, audio engineering and video editing capabilities to the desktop, raising the standard for digital media editing on the Windows NT platform. The digital media production suite from SGI offers digital media professionals a complete, integrated content creation system including: the Silicon Graphics DS1100 disk array, the Silicon Graphics SD1100 dual-stream I/O module option specifically for Silicon Graphics 540, the PCI-based Silicon Graphics MJ1100 dual-stream motion JPEG compression card and the Silicon Graphics DA1100 digital audio card. Users can select the complete suite of options or purchase the products individually, based on their requirements. The suite offers many new advancements. For instance, the Silicon Graphics SD1100 provides four (two-in/two-out) 10-bit serial D1 channels for the highest-quality digital video I/O, capitalizing on the highly sustained throughput of Silicon Graphics 540. Most Windows NT platform-based systems offer a single I/O stream. The ability to simultaneously capture two streams of uncompressed video and output two additional streams of video can literally cut production time in half because users won't have to wait to complete output for one job before beginning capturing video for the next. Pricing and availability information for the Digital Media Production Suite options is as follows: DS1100 will begin shipping in May 1999. Pricing for an entry-level configuration is $6,446 (U.S. list) for a JBOD LVD tower with four, 9GB 7200RPM LVD drives. MJ1000 is scheduled to begin shipping in June 1999, with an anticipated list price of $1,695 (U.S. list). DA1100 is available immediately, priced at $795 (U.S. list). SD1100 is scheduled to begin shipping in May 1999, priced at $1,995 (U.S. list). SGI is currently showcasing these and other new tools at the Spring Comdex in Chicago, where its new Silicon Graphics (R) 540 has just won PC Week's "Best of Comdex" Award. The Silicon Graphics 540 is the industry's only quad-enabled Intel (R) Pentium (R) III Xenon (TM) system on the market today. The visual workstation is designed to deliver the industry's most scalable computing capabilities at mainstream pricing, and supports up to four Intel Pentium III Xeon 550 MHz processors. Plus, it will also support Intel's Pentium III Xeon 550 MHz processor when it becomes available. When configured with an Intel Pentium III Xeon 550 MHz processor, the system is priced beginning at $6,495, and is scheduled to ship in the second quarter of 1999.

Alias|Wavefront Previews Maya Paint Effects. Alias|Wavefront, an SGI company, has announced a new brush-based software technology that will be included with a future version of Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited. When integrated fully into the Maya 3D user environment, Paint Effects is a tool for the instantaneous creation of organic elements such as plants, hair, lightning and fire. It provides complete interaction with the lighting, shadows, depth values and animation within Maya scenes and boasts a myriad of preset brushes to create countless forms of real and surreal nature. Alias|Wavefront is previewing its upcoming Paint Effects technology at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) trade show April 17-22 in the Sands Convention Center, booth S2425, and at the Maya Skill Center in the Stardust Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada. Maya Paint Effects extends Alias|Wavefront's tradition of artistic innovation by raising the standard for aesthetic beauty and natural realism in computer generated imagery. It uses familiar, painterly metaphors to redefine the way artists add beauty and complexity to 3D scenes, providing users with the tools to create captivating scenes in a matter of minutes. Paint Effects is designed to be similar to a traditional paint package, with the added benefit that Paint Effects strokes actually understand 3D space; artists can paint on 2D, and on or between 3D objects within Maya. A single Paint Effects stroke can create anything -- from a field of wheat blowing in the wind, to fully animated lightning bolt effects, or a plate full of curled spaghetti pasta. The real-time Paint Effects brushes can be virtually unlimited in number and variety, and fully animated and customized by the user. Paint Effects features include paint strokes based on parameters that can be animated and changed over time, and independent resolution that can be rendered to arbitrary final image sizes, real time rendering, versatile strokes, brush wrap, and a large library of preset brushes which include everything from simple oil and wet brushes, chalks, pencils and markers to complex "natural phenomena" effects brushes, such as glows, plasmas, trees, plants, hair, and fur. Paint Effects will be an integral part of Maya and will be included with Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited in a subsequent release later this year. Maya Complete has a SRP of $7,500 (US) and includes modeling, rendering, animation, dynamics, Artisan and MEL, an open interface for programming and scripting Maya. Maya Unlimited, has a SRP of $16,000 (US) and includes Maya Live, Maya Fur, Maya Cloth and additional rendering licenses.

Alias|Wavefront Delivers Maya IPR. Alias|Wavefront, an SGI company, announced it plans to deliver a new Interactive Photorealistic Render software called Maya IPR as a standard component of Maya 2 software. Integrated seamlessly into the Maya user environment, the new IPR is designed to allow for near instantaneous editing of lighting, textures, shaders, lens and glow effects. The Maya IPR software is a breakthrough rendering solution based on the pioneering Explore IPR, which was invented and brought to maturity by Alias|Wavefront. It is designed to bring the speed of on-line video editing to the world of 3D rendering, giving users the ability to match colors, edit material shaders, and adjust lighting placement on final renderings in real-time, eliminating the need for multiple test renderings. The company expects that visual effects artists and animators will save countless hours and produce stunning, quality work in Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited with the new IPR rendering workflow.

The company will deliver Maya IPR as a standard component in Maya Complete 2 and Maya Unlimited 2 applications. Maya Complete 2 will be available on Microsoft Windows NT and Silicon Graphics IRIX®, and has an anticipated SRP of $7,500 (US). Anticipated features include modeling, rendering, animation, dynamics, Artisan, Maya F/X and MEL, an open interface for programming and scripting Maya. Maya Unlimited 2 will be available on Microsoft Windows NT and SGI's IRIX® and has an anticipated SRP of $16,000 (US). It includes Maya Complete, Maya Live, Maya Fur, Maya Cloth and new Advanced Modeling features. The company plans to offer favorable upgrade pricing from current versions of Maya, and provide free upgrades to Maya 2 to customers who purchase Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited after April 19, 1999 and prior to Maya 2 shipping. Maya Complete 2 and Maya Unlimited 2 are scheduled to begin shipping by the end of June 1999. Alias|Wavefront previewed IPR as part of its launch of Maya 2 at NAB, April 17-22, booth S2425 in the Sands Convention Center.


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