On April 23, 2001, Apple announced the immediate availability of QuickTime 5 and the upcoming availability of QuickTime Streaming Server 3 at NAB, the annual international conference of the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas. In addition, Apple is demonstrating a preview version of QuickTime with support for industry-standard MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 encoding and decoding. "QuickTime has been long established as the digital media standard for capturing, encoding and delivering content on the Internet," said Philip Schiller, Apple's vice president of worldwide product marketing.
Macromedia, Inc. announced on April 24, 2001, the immediate availability of Macromedia Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio, which will enable developers to bring 3D-enhanced Shockwave content to the Internet. The program features a new version of the Shockwave Multiuser Server, Havok physics engine for 3D game behaviors, support for Flash 5 and the ability to stream RealMedia content. 3D support in Director and Shockwave Player was jointly developed with Intel Corporation and is built on the Intel Internet 3D Graphics software.
Discreet announced on April 9, 2001 thatit has begun shipping reactor, an integrated extension for 3ds max 4.Reactor, powered by Havok, incorporates technology that realisticallysimulates cloth, rope, liquid and hard-/soft-body objects thatcollide, bounce, break and stretch. Reactor officially launched lastmonth at the Game Developers Conference. Reactor features includerope dynamics that simulate any deformable chain from realistic hairto knots of climbing ropes; cloth dynamics that give objects
On April 10, 2001, at theMacromedia User Conference (UCON) in New York, Discreet announced a3ds max Shockwave exporter that includes support for rich characteranimation from character studio, dynamic physics from reactor andMultiRes mesh technology. With this integrated exporter, artists cantransfer 3D content directly from 3ds max into the Director 8.5authoring environment for deployment in the Shockwave format. "Withthe Shockwave Player already in use by more than 200 million Web
The final beta version of Silicon Grails RAYZ multi-platform compositing software is now available for public beta testing. The beta-testing period will last through April 22, 2001 when RAYZ will be officially launched at NAB. The software is available in versions for SGI IRIX, SGI IRIX (64 bit), Windows NT/Windows 2000, Intel Linux and Alpha Linux. The product is resolution independent making it equally suitable for feature film, large format film, HDTV and standard definition video projects.
Ascension Technology has announced the addition of the X-IST FaceTracker to their line-up of motion-capture tracking devices. The X-IST FaceTracker is a lightweight, head-coupled facial expression tracker using 36 reflective markers to collect real-time motion data on strategic locations such as lips, cheeks and eyelids. Its automatic search, labeling and marker tracking are designed to accelerate production time. The real-time data, transferred to an animation workstation, integrates with Filmbox, Maya, Typhoon, Softimage and other leading software programs.
Toon Boom Technologies, a leading supplier of 2D animation software for major film and television studios, announced Toon Boom Studio 1.0, a new software program the brings high-end 2D animation tools and capabilities to the Web. Targeted at Web designers, advertising agencies and other online content creators, the software is designed to simplify the creation process by automating traditional animation tasks. The new software derives its high-end features from Toon Boom Technologies' acknowledged expertise in the animation market.
On April 4, 2001, Cambridge Animation Systems, makers of Animo software, announced the upcoming release of Swiffworks, a new plugin that delivers Macromedia Flash format output to Alias|Wavefront's Maya users. The newsoftware is based on the Maya scene interpreter developed for Cambridge's Inkworks plugin, used in the feature film RUGRATS IN PARIS. The new plugin allows users to choose Swiffworks material or use the default Phong material provided by Maya.
Macromedia, Inc. and Intel Corporation announced on Tuesday, April 10, 2001, that the coming release of Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio will include new jointly developed 3D authoring capabilities, as well as a new version of the Shockwave Multiuser Server and support for both Flash5 and streaming RealMedia content. According to the announcement, the new software is integrated with existing 3D solutions to ensure developers do not have to abandon their 3D authoring software of choice, but rather import that content into Director.
Alias|Wavefront announced on April 10, 2001, that next month it will be releasing a Maya exporter plugin that will transfer content into Macromedia Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio software. The Maya Shockwave 3D Exporter plugin will provide an export solution for the rapid refinement of content for the soon-to-be-released 3D version of the Shockwave Web platform. The plugin will be available for both Windows and Macintosh platforms.
Electric Rain announced the development of a plugin version of their Swift 3D product that will allow LightWave 3D users to export content directly to the Macromedia Flash file format, as well as other types of vector-based formats. Scheduled for a late Spring, 2001 release, the plugin will support both PC and Macintosh platforms, and will accurately render complex models as vector outlines, 1-4 color shaded cartoon files and realistic gradient shaded files.
On April 1, Testarossa ToolsInMotion, a developer of human motion editing applications for the 3D content creation market, announced the release of VROOM FOR MAYA, a motion-capture plug-in library for Alias|Wavefront's MAYA 3D animation software. The library includes plug-ins that let users readand write skeletal animation in the Acclaim ASF/AMC, Biovision BVH,and Motion Analysis HTR mocap file formats, as well as import themotion of a mocap skeleton into a MAYA skeleton regardless of thereference pose and skeletal structure. The library also provides
Electric Image announced that itsUniverse 3.0 3D modeling, animation and rendering system is shippingfor Windows NT/2000. Universe is an upgrade and a replacement for theaward-winning ElectricImage Animation System (EIAS), which has beenavailable on the Macintosh for over ten years. Universe 3.0 isavailable for $1,995. "There has been a consistent demand for aWindows version of Electric Image software for several years now, andwe are very proud to release Universe 3.0 in this market," said
Digimation has started shipping Cluster-O-Matic, a new clustering and animation plug-in for Discreet's 3ds max 3 and 4. Developed by Di-O-Matic, Inc., Cluster-O-Matic is designed for clustering collections of vertices together and linking them to other objects directly within 3ds max scenes. According to the company, Cluster-O-Matic can be used for modeling and animation, and it is especially suited for doing facial animation and touching up 3D models. "Cluster-O-Matic is a very handy tool! This plug-in gives you so much more control over your models than anything 3ds max provides!
Dosch Design has just released several new products, including version 2.0 products from its state-of-the-art Dosch Textures line. Rust & Metal, Stone & Concrete, Skin, Industrial Design, Broadcast-Design and Special-Effects now include many additional textures, plus a large number of textures which are provided in even higher resolution than in the previous version. The products have been expanded for a wider variety of contents and will soon be supported by the new Dosch Design InfoBase, which will be established on the Dosch Design Website.
Apple introduced artists to the new version of their award-winning video editing software, Final Cut Pro, late last week. Final Cut Pro 2 is an all-in-one editing solution, featuring real-time editing, breakthrough Power Mac G4 performance and a scalable architecture that allows users to output content into any video format. With Final Cut Pro 2, real-time editing and compositing functions are integrated into the video production workflow seamlessly.
Visual effects powerhouse Tippett Studio has recently purchased 10 Silicon Graphics Octane2 visual workstations, 25 Silicon Graphics 230 and Silicon Graphics 330 Windows NT OS-based and Linux OS-based workstations, an SGI 2100 visualization server and a 2TB SGI TP9400 storage system. The company has been using SGI systems since opening its doors in 1983, and continues to choose Silicon Graphics machines to realize their award-winning work.
Numerical Design Ltd. (NDL) has announced NetImmerse 4.0, the latest version of its 3D game-development toolkit. The new version will boast support for Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo Gamecube, a new tool for previewing keyframe animations, new rendering capabilities and performance increases for the core product and free plug-ins. Already two titles for the much hyped Microsoft Xbox are in development: ODDWORLD INHABITANT'S MUNCH'S ODDYSEE and an as yet unannounced title from Totally Games.
U.K.-based Criterion Software recently announced its new RenderWare Platform - a middleware solution offering game studios a tightly integrated game development framework incorporating 2D/3D graphics, audio and physics modules. The RenderWare Platform builds on Criterion's highly successful 2D/3D graphics toolkit RenderWare3 to provide developers with a powerful, truly multi-platform development environment. Built on an open and flexible architecture, the RenderWare Platform initially incorporates 2D/3D graphics, audio and physics modules, with additional modules to follow.
Ascension Technology Corporation will preview their new infrared active-optical motion-capture system, the Ascension ReActor, at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose this month. The ReActor delivers extremely smooth, real-time optical data for a broad range of animation applications at less than half the price of existing systems. ReActor captures the motions of an untethered performer free to spin, kick or jump in a capture area delineated by modular snap-together bars.
pmG (project:messiah Group), the producers of the award-winning project:messiah 3D animation package, have recently revamped the company Website. The re-launch expands greatly on the previous version, adding strong news and informational components, a library of 25 easy to download MPEG-1 sample animations and promotes and sells online the company's full line of products, including project:messiah 1.5, the messiah:studio suite, messiah:animate and messiah:render.
Japanese software developer ExpressionTools, Inc. has released ExpressionToolsShade Professional R4/E (ETShade Pro R4/E), an English language version of their high-end 3D graphics application. With a fifteen-year history behind it, Shade offers an outstanding and intuitive user interface, leveraging Bezier curve modeling and high speed/high quality rendering. In Japan, Shade has been the leading tool for professional graphics, 3D design, industrial design and architecture, with user-base numbers in excess of 200,000.
Alias|Wavefront has signed an agreement with Microsoft Corp. to become an official tools and middleware developer for the Xbox Video Game System. Xbox, Microsoft's next-generation gaming system scheduled for release this fall, is positioned to become one of the most advanced on the market. Alias|Wavefront's Maya software, with its powerful modeling and animation toolsets and its open, extensible API is strongly established in the game development market as the package of choice for top quality interactive entertainment with many of the top-selling next-generation games producers.
With today's new software packages becoming more and more efficient for less and less money, one can definitely do more with less. John Edgar Park discusses the different software and hardware combos that can get you on the fast track to great looking CGI work.