Software designer Ashlar-Vellum Inc. is offering a free beta test-drive of Neon, the company's 3D publishing tool. From now until November 15, 2001, users can download and use the $495 value software free of charge. In addition to its easy-to-use rendering features, Neon enables the publication of any engineering-grade 3D file in the most popular Web and print publishing formats including Macromedia ShockWave 3D, Viewpoint VET, Apple QuickTime, Adobe Illustrator, VRML and more.
Caligari Corporations aniPak, a collection of 11 third-party animation plug-ins and libraries for Caligari trueSpace5 users is now available. aniPak includes three new plug-ins, DreaMotion PoseMixer, IK-Anchor 1.0 and SkeleTool 1.0. DreaMotion PoseMixer allows users to combine individual poses of characters into a seamless animation. The movements of all affected joints can be influenced simultaneously, without adjusting each element separately. IK-Anchor 1.0 keeps the constrained side or edge of the bounding box locked in position.
Activeworlds Corp, provider of three-dimensional technology on the Internet, has released Active Worlds' version 3.2, the most sophisticated addition to its 3D software. Version 3.2 will offer users many significant improvements including OpenGL support, software-rendering support, simplified modes for new users, skyboxes, cell grids, increased visibility ranges and additional firewall support. The new version is available for consumers to download free at http://www.activeworlds.com.
3D and multimedia software company Electric Rain, Inc. has released Swift 3D version 2.0, a stand alone application allowing users to design and render 3D scenes to the Macromedia Flash (SWF) file format, as well as Adobe Illustrator EPS and the latest XML-based SVG. Swift 3D V2 includes many new modeling tools that empower designers of all levels of 3D experience to quickly build and animate complex 3D scenes.
Ascension Technology Corporation, manufacturer of motion tracking devices, has introduced winBIRD, a versatile program that allows users to experiment with Ascensions products in a standard Windows environment. For use with single and multi-sensor or multi-transmitter configurations, winBIRD lets users change all major device and system options while monitoring how the changes affect returned data.
Plazmic, creator of the Mobile Media Platform, which enables the creation and distribution of rich mobile media to wireless devices worldwide has partnered with Walt Disney Internet Group Japan to launch an enhanced rich mobile media entertainment service on NTT DoCoMo's i-mode network. Disney-i customers can access a graphically enhanced, interactive and animated version of the entertainment service Magical Fortune using the Plazmic Media Engine, an interactive wireless media player based on Java technology.
Anark Corporation is seeking beta testers for its public beta program of Anark Studio, an integrated media platform that combines 3D and 2D graphics, video, audio, text and data into an interactive, television-quality presentation.
The Macromedia Flash Player has been integrated into Liberate's open, standards-based interactive television platform for commercial deployment. The integration of the Macromedia Flash Player makes it possible for the more than one million Macromedia Flash developers to create compelling content and applications for interactive TV on the Liberate TV Platform software.
Graphics studio and publisher Marlin Studios has released PANORAMICA - LAND & SKY, a 2 CD-Rom set created by artist and photographer David Campbell. The product is the twelfth in a series of texture libraries created for use by 2D and 3D graphics artists. PANORAMICA is a collection of beautifully photographed and post-processed panoramic land and sky backgrounds, in full hemispherical and 180/240/360-degree formats. Matching 3D models are included for the various size textures. Also included is a set of six stop-action animated cloud formations, suitable for video and other applications.
NewTek, Inc., manufacturer of 3D animation and video products, has released a maintenance update for the immensely popular LightWave 3D version . LightWave  was announced and released on August 13, 2001 during SIGGRAPH, and has been embraced by the 3D-user community since that announcement. Only a month later, the LightWave development team has completed massive speed increases and optimizations for both the Intel SSE2 instruction set and the Apple AltiVec instruction set (also known as the Velocity Engine), allowing for an unprecedented performance improvement.
pmG Worldwide LLC has released an advance version of messiah:studio, the company's new, integrated 3D animation, rendering and developers' package. Featuring an all new intuitive interface and highly stable and efficient architecture, the advance version of messiah:studio is on sale right now for US$1,395 (MSRP $1795) and is expected to ship the first week in October 2001. Purchasers of the advance version will automatically receive the final version of the software when it ships on November 26, 2001.
Alias|Wavefront, an SGI company, announced that Maya for Mac OS X has shipped. This much anticipated release of the 3D animation and effects software package on the Macintosh platform will make 3D graphics more accessible to professional graphics artists. With this first release of Maya for Mac OS X, all of Maya Complete becomes native to the Macintosh. Features unique to this version include support for QuickTime, tear off menus in the hot box, and a fully Aqua interface. Alias|Wavefront is offering a special order promotion that will continue until the end of the year.
Pinnacle Systems, Inc., announced the immediate availability of CineWave 1.2, the newest version of the company's award-winning professional video creation solution. CineWave version 1.2 contains many new features including CineOffline, support for 16-bit YUV and 8-bit RGBA codecs, and HD qualification and support for Final Cut Pro 2 with most popular HD formats. CineOffline allows CineWave users to maximize costly storage space by using offline qualities to reduce the size of the media within a project.
John Edgar Park not only delves into the history and purpose of graphics cards but also reviews nVidia's Quadro DCC, the latest in graphics cards.
Blue Sky Studios is using Nothing Real's Shake as the exclusive compositing software for the new animated feature ICE AGE, currently in production. According to Andrew Beddini, compositing lead and lighting technical director on ICE AGE, Shake has been in use at the company since 1999 where it was first used to composite the animated feature, TITAN AE. Beddini explained that at Blue Sky, the overall compositing process is handled by its lighting department.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has licensed Eyetronics' ShapeSnatcher software to experiment with what researchers call videorealistic talking humans that would be used in TV, film and games. ShapeSnatcher Suite 3.0 is an integrated software package that transforms an average slide projector and digital camera into a sophisticated 3D scanning and modeling system.
Discreet, a division of Autodesk Inc., announced a variety of new products at the 2001 International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) held in Amsterdam September 14-18, 2001. Among the new products unveiled to the European community were frost 3, the latest version of Discreet's real-time 3D-broadcast graphics creation and delivery system and combustion 2, the latest version of its paint, animation and 3D-compositing software for Windows and Macintosh platforms. Both products are expected to begin shipping by end-of-year 2001.
CineGroupe Interactive developers have created a PC game prototype based on the childrens tale about a wooden puppet that wants to become a live boy. PINOCCHIO 3001, a third-person puzzle game, is based on an upcoming feature-length animated movie of the same name, which is being developed by CineGroupe Inc., Castelao Productions SNA (Spain) and AnimaKids Productions (France). CineGroupe Interactive, is using NDLs NetImmerse to give the classic story of Pinocchio a futuristic facelift for young gamers.
Immersion 3D, a division of Immersion Corp, announced a 30 day trial offer of Immersion's new VirtualHand Studio software available for download at Immersion's Website, www.immersion.com/products/3d/interaction/virtualhandstudio.shtml. VirtualHand Studio is an intuitive software tool used by designers for verifying, testing and evaluating 3D digital models in real-time. This software converts data from the subtle movement of the physical hand into a graphical hand, letting the user interact with 3D objects.
Germany-based EGISYS AG is set to release its 3D Content Brokerage system later this year. It will be integrated within Curious Labs' Poser and Poser Pro Pack, and also be available as a standalone product. The database targets professional modelers, Web designers, animators, multimedia artists and hobbyists. With the Content Brokerage system, all 3D content and components developed and submitted through the system by individual artists will be available as commercial offerings or shareware to the entire 3D community.
MorphInk has announced their commercial release of MorphInk 2.0, a Web-animation authoring tool. MorphInk 2.0 enables the creation and publishing of high-resolution animations playing at high frame rates (up to 30 frames per second) without increase in file size. In addition to its own ANC animation format, MorphInk 2.0 also supports other Web formats. MorphInk animations can be converted to Flash or Animated GIF. The MorphInk 2.0 package includes a stand-alone player, a Java player and ActiveX/Plug-In Web players.
Electric Image has announced a new version of Universe 3D animation system. The software is expected to begin shipping this fall for Windows NT/2000, Macintosh/OS X and Sun Solaris platforms. The update price for the new version has not yet been announced. New features include a new constraint system, paint-on weight mapping, an advanced skinning system, previews for motion blurs and depth-of-field rendering, global illuminator lighting options and optimized OpenGL support in its Modeler.
DigiCel, Inc. has announced the release of DigiCel FlipBook Lite, a full-featured 2D animation program with all the same features, resolution and image quality of their higher-end broadcast quality products. Artists can use either a camera or the program's built-in light table feature to create their animations. The drawings are automatically positioned in a traditional style exposure sheet. While the scene plays, animators can experiment with timing changes by editing the exposure sheet, immediately updating the preview.
REALVIZ, a leading developer of image processing software solutions, has announced the preview of SceneWe@ver, an application that enables users to view 3D models in Web-based 360° panoramas. Combining technology from REALVIZ' ImageModeler and Stitcher, SceneWe@ver offers multimedia artists, Web designers and Webmasters that use Macromedia Director a complete solution to creating photo-real, 3D environments that export to Director.
Visual effects software developer eyeon Software and effects facility Frantic Films have signed a strategic agreement to provide next-generation applications for eyeon's award-winning Digital Fusion product line. Frantic Films in-house programming talent will use the highly optimized modular Digital Fusion architecture on specific production solutions, which will then be incorporated by eyeon into future product versions. "Frantic Films helps eyeon Software return to its roots.