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Autodesk AREA 3D Community Portal Celebrates First Anniversary

The Autodesk Media & Ent. 3D community portal, AREA (www.the-area.com), is celebrating its first anniversary and has become a preferred online destination, attracting more than 150,000 registered members.

AREA is an interactive online community for artists using Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Maya 3D animation software; Autodesk MotionBuilder character animation software; Autodesk VIZ 3D modeling, rendering and presentation software; and Autodesk FBX universal 3D asset exchange file format. To foster collaboration and networking within the industry, content on AREA is largely generated by the community and supported by Autodesk. The site features tips, tutorials, discussion forums, blogs, downloads, galleries, member portfolios and feature stories on 3D artists and developers. Membership is free.

In its first year, AREA's active user community has triggered discussions on more than 40,000 topics. These topics range from artistic challenges, such as "creating realistic CG hair by using motion blurs," to the highly technical "plotting character extensions using Python script."

To date, AREA has showcased the work of 200 digital artists, and fostered more than 65 discussions between the 3D community and Autodesk's product management team. Of the five Autodesk bloggers, Principal Scientist Duncan Brinsmead's "Duncan's Corner" blog is the community favorite, with numerous comments and endorsements.

As part of AREA's one-year celebration, Autodesk has launched a new site architecture, which further enhances the online user experience and integrates feedback from the rapidly growing community. The new site is specifically designed to provide improved interaction between users, provide them with greater control over their content, as well as to streamline their online experience.

AREA's Key New Features:

* An entirely new cross-platform architecture that supports Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems as well as a wide range of popular web browsers, including Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Netscape.

* A new tutorial system that allows users to quickly and easily lay out and submit tutorials. Once approved, the tutorials become part of a searchable tutorial repository and can be downloaded as PDF files for offline reading.

* 60 new user-generated tutorials for 3ds Max and Maya, covering game development, post-production and design visualization.

* A work-in-progress gallery that allows users to obtain feedback on their work as it evolves from initial sketches to the final asset.

* A new download infrastructure that enables users to share scripts, materials and plug-ins and to create a page describing their customized tools.

* Revamped discussion forums with many of the features and navigation capabilities popular in other major industry communities.

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