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Ascension to Introduce 3D Animation to High Schoolers

AnimationStar, a new and affordable PC-based animation workstation that will let students capture human motions and animate computer characters, will make its debut to high school educators at the National School Board's T+ L2 Conference in Denver, Oct. 27-29.

AnimationStar is an entry-level version of Ascension's highly popular motion-capture technology used worldwide to animate 3D characters for movies, television and games. It is designed to excite, inspire and "hook" students on computer technology and 3D animation. From a practical standpoint, it will give students highly marketable skill sets for college-level work as well as opportunities for rewarding jobs in the real world.

For simplicity of use and understanding, AnimationStar is a turn-key system with an intuitive "Splash Screen" instructional guide. It contains all hardware, software and courseware for an educator to teach the principles of 3D computer animation and give kids hands-on experience with cutting edge technology. Thus, it will complement current courses in digital animation, digital content creation and electronics arts, as well as other disciplines in which 3D visualization of human motion is of educational value.

Built around a Pentium 4 class computer, it includes a new Ascension motion-capture tracker with body-attachable sensors and a full-feature version of the award-winning Alias-Kaydara MOCAP 5.5 software. MOCAP meshes seamlessly with all animation software programs commonly used in secondary education, including Maya, 3ds max and Softimage 3D/XSI.

Feature-wise, the new system includes full-body magnetic motion tracking in an 8 ft (2.4m) by 8 ft (2.4m) capture zone that contains a metal distortion shield. The shield prevents steel rebar in floors and nearby metallic objects from distorting measurements. The embedded MOCAP 5.5 software is the industry's leading software program for realtime capture, editing, blending and utilization of motion data.

The system works by capturing the motions of a person wearing 8-12 sensors who is free to move anywhere in the capture zone. The motion files are streamed in realtime to the MOCAP software, installed on the AnimationStar PC, which in turn, maps the data onto a 3D character that precisely mimics the person's every movement. The software allows users to import models created in other programs to the motion-capture environment and export motion files to programs for final rendering.

"This is an amazing technology that will give educators a powerful new tool to help achieve educational goals," said Ascension vp Jack Scully. "Most importantly, it will motivate students to develop state-of-the art computer graphics skills that will serve them well later in life."

For more information about Ascension and AnimationStar, visit www.ascension-tech.com.

For information about Kaydara and MOCAP software, visit www.kaydara.com

Ascension will demonstrate AnimationStar in Booth 877 at the T+L2 Conference (www.nsba.org/T+L) in the Colorado Convention Center.

Ascension Technology Corp. (www.ascension-tech.com), based in Burlington, Vermont, is a world leader in magnetic, optical and inertial motion tracking solutions for 3D computer graphics applications in animation, biomechanics, simulation, virtual reality, medicine and military targeting systems.

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