In the unsuspecting town of Lille, lies some of the most cutting-edge Web animation companies in the world...and what's more...they are all working together to create an environment of exploration and innovation. Tony Coates and Franck Levis explain.
Discreet is now shipping inferno 4.6, flame 7.6 and flint 7.6, the latest version upgrades to its visual effects system software. The new releases of Discreets inferno, flame and flint software comprise more than 100 new features and enhancements, focusing on product design, workflow, performance and extending the range and depth of their toolsets. inferno and flame now have new modes for color correction and other options in the Color Warper tool. The Modular Keyer rendering performance has also been optimized along with other key feature improvements.
Houdini artists will soon have the option of working with Hewlett Packard's 64-bit Itanium-based systems on both the Linux and Windows platforms. Side Effects Software has announced their intention to make Houdini 5 and Houdini Select available for Itanium-based systems in the first half of 2002. "We made a name for ourselves as an early adopter of emerging technologies as the first professional 3D software developer to support Linux," said Paul Salvini, chief technology officer of Side Effects Software.
Macromedia has announced the availability of a free update to Macromedia Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio that adds Windows XP compatibility and anti-aliasing support to improve the quality of 3D imaging. The updates can be downloaded immediately from www.macromedia.com/go/dir851/. Macromedia will also make a native Mac OSX version of the Macromedia Shockwave Player available at the end of January 2002.
Turbo Squid, an online marketplace that brokers 3D animation assets for content creators in the film, video, broadcast, Web and game development sectors has added 3D models from visual effects house Rhythm & Hues to its inventory. The Rhythm & Hues models, which will be sold both individually and as collections, include animals, military, office, household and transportation items. The first collections to be released are: Office Volume 1, Home Pack Volume 1, Military Volume 1, Transportation Volume 1, Animals Volume 1, Farm Animals Volume 1 and Marine Animals Volume 1.
Artmachine, a provider of brand management software, announced the availability of Studio Edition, a customized version of its flagship software product, Artmachine 2.0. Studio Edition provides television and motion picture distributors with asset digitizing, management and delivery of marketing and press materials for their media properties worldwide.
Discreets combustion 2, the latest version of its award-winning paint, animation and 3D-compositing software is now available. Unveiled at SIGGRAPH 2001, the combustion 2 software features were designed to provide artists with new capabilities and improved performance, all within an efficient workflow environment designed to make complex visual effects creation faster and simpler. combustion 2 provides new multi-format project capabilities for film and video, including 64-bit image-processing, advanced film grain tools and color Look-Up Table (LUT) management.
Adobe Systems unveiled the latest versions of its GoLive Web authoring and LiveMotion animation software during the Macworld Expo in San Francisco on Monday, January 7, 2002. The products represent Adobe's foray into software for authoring wireless content just as momentum builds for creating content that can be viewed on cell phones and other handheld devices. Adobe is positioning GoLive as the product of choice for Web designers looking to create dynamic content for mobile devices.
Adobe Systems has shipped the newest version of its award-winning motion graphics and visual effects software Adobe After Effects 5.5, which allows professionals to streamline their workflow and work with more media types than ever before. Zaxwerks 3D Invigorator Classic is included with the After Effects 5.5 production bundle and is standard to the production bundle upgrade, allowing users to turn 2D artwork into 3D elements without leaving the After Effects environment.
The beta release of Toon Boom Studio 1.1 for Mac OS X is now available. The latest version of Toon Boom Technologies 2D desktop application can now export animations as iMovie projects or add them to existing iMovie projects. This release also simplifies the workflow required to create an animated movie using Toon Boom Studio to draw and animate personalized characters and objects. The final release of Toon Boom Studio 1.1 will be available at the end of January 2002.
Software development company Silicon Grail recently announced the latest release of their compositing software RAYZ v. 2.0. RAYZ v. 2.0 is the only compositing software that incorporates Cineon tools, including CineSpeed, Cineon Grain, and CineSharpen. For implementation in RAYZ, the Cineon source code has been rewritten to take advantage of todays advancements in technology, delivering more speed and tighter integration. RAYZ v. 2.0 comes with a built-in image morphing and warping tool that is spline based and very easy to learn and use. The flipbook technology within RAYZ v.
Alias|Wavefront has shipped its recently unveiled mental ray for Maya technology. As an optional plug-in renderer for the Maya 3D software package, mental ray for Maya provides an integrated rendering solution that maximizes the strengths of both products. In addition to this new rendering option, Alias|Wavefront offers mental ray stand-alone licenses for increased interactive rendering speed within Maya as well as for use in batch rendering.
fxPak, a collection of seven third-party special effects plug-ins and programs, is now available for Caligari trueSpace5. Using the new plug-ins like PyroCluster and PrimalParticlesFX, users can create photo-realistic smoke, fire, haze, cloud effects and fly-through animations, as well as particle effects, complex shader effects and other advanced special effects. Regularly priced at US$199, fxPak is available for a limited-time introductory offer of US$99 to trueSpace5 users.
Westwood Studios, a wholly-owned subsidiary of game publisher Electronic Arts, has licensed Discreet's gmax software and will be distributing it on COMMAND & CONQUER: RENEGADE, a 3D action game for the PC. In addition, Westwood will release a RENEGADE game pack that will allow content created in gmax to be exported into the game. The game pack will also be available as a free download on the RENEGADE Website.
Alias|Wavefront's Maya Complete software version 3.5.1 for Mac OS X v10.1.1 is now available. With the first release of Maya for Mac OS X, Maya Complete was made native to the Macintosh. The core features of the Mac OS X version of Maya are the same as those in Maya for other platforms. Features unique to the Mac version include support for QuickTime and AppleScript, tear off menus in the hot box, and a fully Aqua interface. New graphics cards supported under Maya 3.5.1 include ATI Mobility Radeon, NVIDIA GeForce2 MX and NVIDIA GeForce3.
Softimage|XSI v2.0 software, the latest version of Softimages nonlinear animation system, has been released. New features of Softimage|XSI v2.0 include a fully scriptable integrated compositor featuring more than 100 film quality effects (8, 16 and 32 bits per channel), updated rendering technology, an integrated dynamics simulator for creating short and long hair and fur for humans, animals or other characters, with advanced capabilities for grooming, photo-realistic rendering and interaction between hair and its environment.
Final Cut Pro 3, which will be available for Mac OS X and Mac OS 9 later in the month of December, was premiered at DVExpo in Los Angeles, California the week of December 2, 2001. Final Cut Pro 3, Apple's latest version of their video editing software, debuts OfflineRT, an offline format that holds up to five times as much footage as the DV format, and new professional color correction tools previously available only in solutions costing tens of thousands of dollars more.
Kaydara Inc. announced the release of FiLMBOX 3.2, the latest version of the company's real-time 3D character animation solution. With an enhanced user interface and workflow, FiLMBOX 3.2 introduces new features for both keyframe and motion-capture-based character animation for game, film, TV and Web productions.
Cambridge Animation Systems has released Animo 4.0 software for the Mac OS X allowing Mac OS X users to have the same functionality as users running on the Windows operating system. The Animo software package integrates 2D and 3D animation and is used for feature films, animated television series, commercials, games and multimedia development.
After the successful launch of Maya Builder, Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited for Linux in March 2001, Alias|Wavefront has now made Maya 4 for Linux available. Senior Maya product manager Chris Ford said, "Interest in Linux continues to grow, especially among customers with large Maya installations, and this much requested new version comes in response to a huge number of inquiries.
Anzovin Studio's beta of The Setup Machine, a software tool devoted exclusively to rigging a 3D character is now available for Windows and Macintosh. The Setup Machine is a 3D animation application that installs a high-quality animation rig -- the skeleton that allows control of a 3D character -- into any humanoid model created in Hash Inc.'s Animation:Master software. "A well-rigged character with efficient and accurate skeletal control systems is essential for successful 3D animation," said Steve Anzovin, co-founder of Anzovin Studio.
Black Belt Systems announced the release of WinImages R6 - a major new upgrade to their effects and image-processing suite. The new release boasts a complete overhaul of the "layering" system often found in image editing packages such as PhotoShop. Black Belt have added a broad range of new layer tools including a new "warp layer mode," which allows users to incorporate image distortions (such as ripples) in separate "warp layers" so that the actual pixel data in the layered image is never changed. This means that distortions can be stacked and slid around with instant results.
3D software provider Alias|Wavefront plans to assemble 3D artists from the film, video, game development, Web design, visualization and industrial design sectors in seven separate host cities around the world on December 3, 2001. The 3December event is an annual celebration designed to build a community amongst computer graphics professionals and those with an interest in learning from the industry's top talent and seeing the latest technological advancements. This year the free of charge event will take place in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, London, Tokyo and Seoul.
Pepper's Ghost Productions (PGP) has inked an agreement with Cambridge Animation Systems whereby Cambridge will be the exclusive worldwide distributor for PGP's production management software tool, PG Studio. PG Studio was developed by PGP to manage all facets of production for its 3D CGI properties. The software was an integral part of the award-winning television series, TINY PLANETS, which was co-produced with Sesame Workshop, and is already on air in Australia, sold to territories throughout the world, and with a U.K. version to be seen on CiTV in the spring of 2002.
Exluna is currently beta testing Entropy 3.1, the first major upgrade for Exluna's groundbreaking new rendering system. The release, available in January 2002, will include a number of improvements such as a plug-in that integrates Entropy directly with Discreet's 3ds max and 3D Studio VIZ software, allowing advanced programmable shading and lighting, in addition to 3ds max network rendering.