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Character Animation Technologies to Preview Muscle Deformation Tool at SIGGRAPH

During SIGGRAPH 2004 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, high-end character animation software developer Character Animation Technologies will preview a new muscle deformation system that will add a whole new dimension to the New Zealand-based company's flagship product, Character Animation Toolkit (CAT), the fully integrated, next-generation character animation plug-in for Discreet 3ds max.

Developed by animators for animators, CATMuscle allows CG artists to achieve full, realistic movement, especially on shoulders and other difficult areas of physiology, with a minimum of setup. The application, being demonstrated Aug. 10-12 at SIGGRAPH (booth #1958), additionally marks a major industry milestone as the only muscle system that can be imported directly into a game engine.

CATMuscle is scheduled to ship in the fourth quarter of 2004 as an additional plug-in to CAT Version 2. Pricing details will be announced soon.

Mario Wynands, ceo of Sidhe Ent., creator of work on games such as O'NEILL CHAMPIONSHIP SURFER (PlayStation), ADIDAS FOOTBALL FEVER (PC), JIMMY NEUTRON: JET FUSION (PS2/GC) and RUGBY LEAGUE (PS2/Xbox/PC) says, "To date, CAT have provided great tools which take the hassle out of videogame animation content creation. With their ongoing development of realtime animation technologies, we can soon look forward to reducing the burden of implementing complex character animation systems, and empowering animators to maintain more creative control over their assets in-game."

"CATMuscle fills the missing link for today's animators," offers Scott Pearson, ceo of Character Animation Technologies. "To date, skinning a rig has been a difficult and often unrewarding experience. In conjunction with CAT, artists will not only be able to create great animation more easily than ever before, that ease of use will extend right though to the realistic muscle setup."

CATMuscle is a fully expandable solution that allows animators to solve problems in their mesh deformations without knowledge of complex anatomy. Users can achieve great results, often with only a few well-placed strands. Easing animation and set up, CATMuscle will ship with full muscle structures for both humans and animals. Muscle systems, including existing presets or presets created from scratch, can be loaded onto CATRigs and applied, with the muscles automatically fitted to the target rig's proportions.

Once loaded, CATMuscle allows the artist to maximize existing skinning tools, such as the 3ds max Skin Modifier. CATMuscle greatly reduces the amount of envelope editing required, significantly lowering skin-up times. Meanwhile, the plug-in's low CPU overhead enables interaction with the skinned muscle system in real time in the viewport.

A major advantage unique to CATMuscle - and one that opens up a whole new world of realism for game content creation is support for importing into game engines, an industry first. CATMuscle's parametric control over level of detail also provides animators unparalleled flexibility.

Character Animation Technologies Ltd., founded in 2002 by two Emmy-award nominated animators, is a New Zealand-based developer of next-generation character animation software. For more information on Character Animation Technologies and CAT, visit www.catoolkit.com.

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