Animated 3D graphics continues to be an important part of how news organizations are explaining events of the war in Iraq. Recently AWN offered a look at how CNN uses animation (Animation Goes To War, March 27, 2003) and the tools its graphics team uses. Fox News Channel also extensively uses 3D animation with a different toolset. Animator Michael Galbavy said they create terrain starting with Curious Software. This data is outputted in two ways:1) as a polygonal mesh with a high resolution texture map. 2) a high resolution greyscale texture that relates to height, which can be usedas a displacement map, along with a high-resolution color texture image thatcan be registered with the displacement map. These can be then imported into most any 3D software application and used as such, according to Galbavy. He said the Fox News graphics crew of 30 mostly uses Maya. Turnaround time can range from one to three days, depending upon how much research is needed, its urgency and the complexity. For instance, is it just a single model or a whole scenario/scene/recreation? In the future, Fox News is looking into using animation for conceptualizing and directing virtual reality sets with talent.
Curious Software, founded in London in 1999, makes the most extensively used graphics packages for TV news broadcasters around the world. Many newsrooms used Curious Software to animate the flight paths the planes took during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. Curious will be launching its new Curious gFx at NAB 2003 in Las Vegas, April 7-11, 2003. The new release is an integrated paint, rotoscoping and compositing system for video, HDTV and film. For a fascinating look at the company's 3D views of Baghdad and the Middle East check out http://www.curious-software.com/Pages/products/3danimator.htm.