LifeMode Interactive has released a plug-in version of LifeStudio:HEAD, its character creation and facial animation package for game developers and 3D studios. LifeStudio:HEAD Plug-In Package will include the stand-alone LifeStudio:HEAD tool for MS Windows 2000/XP and the plug-ins to load the tool's own file formats directly into either Discreet 3D studio max or Alias|Wavefront Maya.
Digital Film Tools, an offshoot of Los Angeles-based visual effects studio Digital FilmWorks, has announced the release of zMatte, a full-featured blue and green screen keyer for use with Adobe After Effects and After Effects compatible programs, Apple's Final Cut Pro, and Avid Editing Systems. Using proprietary matte extraction techniques and 16 bit processing, zMatte quickly and simply creates mattes with minimal parameters. ZMatte's features include multiple matte creation; blur, shrink and wrap functions; color suppression; and shadow, midtone and highlight color correction.
Discreet will promote the latest release of its 3ds max animation software by touring 15 cities in North and South America. Kicking off October 8 in Dallas, the "Defy Reality" Tour will allow attendees to view in-depth demonstrations of 3ds max 5, meet animation guest speakers from the film, television, design visualization and game development industries, and receive special 3ds max promotional pricing along with the opportunity to win an Intel Pentium 4 IBM M PRO Workstation.
Toon Boom Technologies Inc. has released the final version of its 2D animation application Toon Boom Studio v.1.2.1 for Mac OS X v.10.2. This latest version of Toon Boom Studio takes full advantage of the features and improvements available in "Jaguar," Apple's major update to the OS X operating system. Toon Boom Studio is a 2D desktop application for creative professionals in character animation, Web design and advertising. The update is available for free to all licensed owners at www.toonboomstudio.com.
Toonstruck has placed its animation project tracking and asset management software into open beta. Toontrack provides a spreadsheet-style status of all shots, private login for each member of the team, and allows for the assigning of tasks, daily submission and review. In addition, asset management and version control and history tools are included that link directly with Maya animation software allowing the import, reference or opening of files directly into Maya from Toontrack.
Discreet's burn, a new Linux-based background rendering software for visual effects systems, recently debuted at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam. burn is designed to reduce time to project completion by utilizing PC-based render stations for processing effects. Using burn, rendering is completed offline in a Linux-based render farm, freeing up Discreet online effects workstations, which will allow artists to focus more on the creative process.
House of Moves Motion Capture Studios (HOM) has made more than 5,000 stock motion files available online. The moves can be browsed and ordered online by installing House of Moves custom 3D-motion viewer called DivaView. A free beta version of the viewer can be downloaded at www.moves.com/divaview/divaview.zip. Available libraries of moves include football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, special ops, medieval combat, dancing and more. Some moves are available in multiple formats, and all 3D motion-capture formats are available for an additional charge.
Electric Rain, Inc. has announced the release of Swift 3D version 3.0, a standalone application allowing designers to build and export 3D animations to the Macromedia Flash (SWF) file format, as well as other major vector and raster formats. This latest version provides realistic vector rendering with new RAViX III rendering options, photo-quality raster export and SmartLayer Technology for direct integration with Macromedia Flash MX.
Visual effects plug-in vendor The Foundry, presented technology demonstrations of Furnace, its new set of plug-ins for Apples Shake compositing and visual effects system at the IBC show in Amsterdam. The suite of plug-ins, which helps film compositors correct common problems when working on film effects shots, is currently in its Alpha test phase. Furnace is the culmination of two years research and development working closely with film effects houses in London.
The world's largest online plant library just got bigger with the addition of 50 new plants. Plant modeling and simulation company Bionatics has increased its library to more than 250 plants, including plants from North America, South America, Europe, Japan and the Mediterranean. Increasing its plant diversification in response to client demand, Bionatics offers foliage for a variety of environments (mountains, coastline, roads, forests, parks and gardens, ponds, and countryside) for architects, 3d studios, video game developers, real-time and landscape simulations.
WIZZ, a new game show for Radio Canada public broadcasting station, is using Kaydara Inc.'s 3D production tool Online 3.5 to integrate 3D character animation and live video in real-time. Bo and Pixel, the 3D characters that are part of WIZZ's cast, interact with the host and contestants in real-time and serve as virtual game pieces -- walking, running and flying their way through WIZZville's animated game board.
Maya 4.5, the seventh major release of Alias|Wavefront's popular Maya 3D animation software is now available for the Windows, IRIX and Linux operating systems, with Maya Complete 4.5 for Mac OS X available on September 23, 2002. Maya 4.5 boasts a number of major technological developments such as Maya Fluid Effects and modeling improvements, the largest collection of API enhancements since version 1 and version parity with Maya Complete 4.5 for Mac OS X.
Realviz has announced that MatchMover 2.5 Professional is now available. The software is a professional solution used to track 3D camera data and motion from videos and film sequences. With this new version, users can move smoothly back and forth between automatic and manual tracking with no interruption of workflow.
Digital effects plug-in provider GenArts Inc. has released version 1.0 of its Sapphire plug-in for Shake 2.5 for Mac OS X. The company is also reducing the price of Sapphire plug-ins for Shake on all platforms by 25%. "Shake users tell us that Sapphire Plug-ins are a natural extension to their systems, so it was important for us to make our plug-ins available for Mac OS X," said Karl Sims, GenArts' President and Founder.
Curious Labs has begun shipping Poser 5, the new version of their award-winning 3D-character animation tool for artists and animators. Dynamic cloth and strand-based hair, photo-based facial mapping, and the new FireFly render engine are some of the new features included in Poser 5.
BOXX Technologies has announced that its R and H series of high-performance 3DBOXX workstations and its RenderBOXX rendering systems now feature the AMD Athlon MP processor 2200+ with QuantiSpeed architecture and Smart MP technology. BOXX stated that the 3DBOXX and RenderBOXX series featuring the new AMD Athlon MP processor provides optimal performance for compute-intensive applications such as 3D modeling, CAD, animation and digital video editing. "Our customers are eager for processing power and continually driven by deadlines," said Rick Krause, president and CEO of BOXX.
3D software solutions provider SplutterFish has released its Brazil Rendering System v1.0 (Brazil r/s), a fully-integrated rendering suite for Discreet's 3ds max and Autodesk VIZ.
Vancouver-based Electric FX has released the public beta test of eFX Extract3D, a new effects plug-in for Adobe After Effects. According to Electric FX, the plug-in is designed to integrate 3D information with regular 2D imagery in the desktop compositing workflow, thereby enhancing the ability for visual effects and motion graphics artists to create effects based on a variety of 3D metadata, such as pixel depth (distance from the camera), object identifiers and surface characteristics.
NVIDIA, based in Santa Clara, California, has released the beta 2 version of its Cg Compiler and Cg Toolkit for Cg, a high-level programming language for content creation developers. This new version of the compiler and toolkit, includes support for the OpenGL GL_ARB_vertex_program extension, and allows developers to create shaders in the Cg language specification and implement them in the OpenGL 1.4 application programming interface (API). The NVIDIA Cg Toolkit beta 2 also contains new Cg shader examples that are NVIDIA CineFX architecture-specific.
Utah-based DAZ Productions, a company that specializes in providing 3D models for the animation tool Poser, has acquired lip sync software Mimic from LIPSinc. DAZ Productions sees the acquisition as a chance to help bring a powerful animation tool to more of the general public with a more competitive price point. Dan Farr, president of DAZ Productions, explained: "Thousands of people in the Poser community have already purchased Mimic at the $195 price and have been very happy with it.
Softimage has made available its new set of tools for transporting data between 3D applications. The Softimage "Connect" suite of tools significantly expands the interoperability of Softimage|XSI and Softimage|3D systems with other 3D formats and applications. It brings together free or open-source tools, including converters and libraries for building custom pipelines, with commercial solutions from partners such as Right Hemisphere, Born Digital and Okino.
Klasky-Csupo has implemented DigiCel's FlipBook pencil test system into the production pipeline at their Hollywood studio, replacing the Amiga/Take-2 systems. With a need for a more integrated working environment to eliminate the studios dependence on non-standard equipment, Klasky-Csupo's technical department investigated the options and went with DigiCel's FlipBook. For Klasky-Csupo's animators, FlipBooks thumbnail Xsheet offers multiple editing options including the ability to edit a scene while it is playing and see the results immediately.
Software piracy is costing the animation industry millions if not billions. Brett Rogers explains why the cost of software piracy goes beyond the losses suffered by the software manufacturers and affects everyone.
Using REALVIZ MatchMover Professional, UK-based visual effects and animation company Clear Ltd. has completed key effects for the music video projects Jamiroquais "Corner of the Earth" and Sugababes' "Round Round." Steve Garrad, producer on both projects, explains how the different elements came together. "For 'Corner of the Earth,' the aim was to create a photo-real representation of the solar system revolving around [lead singer] Jay Kay.