Bionatics is making wind generation a breeze with EASYnat, a plant simulation and modeling plug-in for Autodesk VIZ that enables users to generate photo-realistic plants and trees from a vast and diverse library of plants. Intended for the architect market, EASYnat trees and plants may now be animated with wind affects. To learn more about the applications of this effect, download the tutorial, "EASYnat Foliage Animation Technique," at www.easynat.com. A free 30-day fully functional demo may also be downloaded. EASYnat for Autodesk VIZ and 3ds max is offered at a retail price of US$495.o
At November's COMDEX tradeshow in Las Vegas, California, NVIDIA Corporation introduced the NVIDIA GeForce FX graphics processing unit (GPU). According to NVIDIA, this new GPU, which is based on the new NVIDIA CineFX architecture, delivers cinematic-quality graphics and special effects to video games. "Computer games today are fast and exciting, yet they still lack the ability to engage us emotionally," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO at NVIDIA.
Alias|Wavefront's Maya 4.5 Personal Learning Edition will be available starting December 4, 2002, but users will have to wait until January 2003 to download the software for free. The initial version of Maya Personal Learning Edition, launched in February 2002, has had more than a quarter of a million downloads to date. The Maya 4.5 Personal Learning Edition includes all new features found in Maya Complete 4.5 software. Substantial enhancements have been made in response to requests from the community, allowing the new version to be a more effective learning tool.
Pixar Animation Studios has released RenderMan 11, the latest version of its Academy Award-winning visual effects software. According to Pixar, RenderMan 11 combines significant performance gains with important new features such as ray tracing, global illumination and deep shadows. "We have added major features to this release of RenderMan, and we will keep doing so. The studios who choose RenderMan expect the best in both features and performance, and we will continue working to satisfy their needs," said Ed Catmull, president of Pixar.
Anzovin Studio has introduced The Setup Machine for Maya, a new character rigging plug-in for Alias|Wavefront's Maya. The Setup Machine for Maya, newest member of The Setup Machine family of cross-platform animation utilities, enables Maya users to rig a wide variety of CG characters including humans, animals, insects and fantasy creatures that would be difficult and tedious to set up by hand.
NewTek, Inc. and Digimation, Inc. have teamed to create a suite of plugins providing integration between NewTek's Video Toaster 2 and Discreet's 3ds max. The plugins will ship standard with Video Toaster 2, NewTek's Windows 2000-based live video production environment. According to NewTek, Video Toaster 2 complements 3ds max's toolset with compositing, video editing, video painting, video in and out, digital disk recording (DDR), and other tools that let 3ds max animators take their work to a new level.
Digital Film Tools has released 55MM 2.0, a comprehensive set of digital optical filters for Adobe After Effects and After Effects compatible programs, Apples Final Cut Pro and Avid Editing Systems. 55MM includes twenty plug-ins that until recently were only available in-house at Digital Film Tools' parent company, visual effects facility Digital FilmWorks. The unique set of plug-ins was created to simulate popular glass camera filters, specialized lenses and optical lab processes, allowing images to be treated in a controlled digital environment.
Curious Labs, Inc. is now offering Content Paradise in Poser 5, its 3D-character animation tool for artists and animators. Content Paradise enables Poser 5 users to browse a database of 3rd party Poser content, then purchase and download their selected items. Curious Labs has partnered with Renderosity to provide the first collection of content. Other market partners that have agreed to participate and will be adding their content collections later in 2002 are bbay, TurboSquid, Virtualchemy and RuntimeDNA. For more information about Content Paradise go to www.contentparadise.com
Interactive media developer MindAvenue has launched AXELpublisher for 3ds max, enabling 3ds max professionals to publish interactive 3D content to the Web easily. This is the first in a series of publishing tools MindAvenue is developing for high-end 3D software programs. With AXELpublisher, 3ds max users can generate both QuickTime and AXEL streams and instantly publish to the Web in a scripting-free environment. In addition, current users of AXELedge, MindAvenue's award-winning authoring tool, can now import 3ds max content directly into the software.
SOFTIMAGE|XSI v.3.0 software has become the first digital content creation application to take advantage of Cg, the high-level programming language NVIDIA developed in close collaboration with Microsoft Corporation. Softimage and NVIDIA announced that the SOFTIMAGE|XSI v.3.0 environment is now able to work seamlessly with the C-like language to provide users with a simplified process for authoring complex, highly realistic digital content. "When NVIDIA announced Cg earlier this year, we immediately recognized the value this technology would provide animators and developers.
Plant modeling and animation software natFX v2.0 for Maya is now available. Targeting the game developer community with its new set of powerful features allowing generation of low polygonal trees that are photo-realistic and can be animated with ease, Bionatics states that its 2D/3D hybrid technology will allow users to cut production costs by minimizing time spent on plant modeling and animation.
Discreet has released gmax 1.2, a free downloadable video game modification application used by game enthusiasts, game developers and publishers. With over 300,000 registered users since its 2001 release, gmax software has become a popular tool for gamers wanting to add custom characters, environments and animations to PC games. Leading game developers and publishers such as Infogrames, Electronic Arts and Microsoft have adopted gmax to produce gmax-ready titles with customization capabilities to enhance the title's appeal to the rapidly growing game "modder" community.
Softimage Co. has announced the availability of its new SOFTIMAGE|BEHAVIOR system, specifically for creating behavioral animation for the film and broadcast industries.
Mo-cap systems developer Vicon has announced that its Vicon iQ software solution is now available. Allowing users to streamline motion-capture workflow when tracking complex interaction between characters, Vicon iQ features include an advanced kinematic model builder, graphical marker set editor, graph-based motion editing functions and export direct to applications like Kaydara MotionBuilder and Alias|Wavefront Maya. The application also includes features for quality assurance and a full suite of automated and manual editing tools.
RE:Vision Effects has announced that they now offer Mac OS X support for ReelSmart Twixtor and ReelSmart Motion Blur, the company's effects plugins for Apple's compositing software Shake. ReelSmart Twixtor enables users to speed up or slow down image sequences. Twixtor synthesizes unique new frames by warping and interpolating frames of the original sequence employing RE:Vision's proprietary tracking technology that calculates motion for each individual pixel.
Softimage Co. has released version 3.0 of its SOFTIMAGE|XSI 3D nonlinear production environment. SOFTIMAGE|XSI v.3.0 introduces new features and toolsets for use in feature film, television and video games.
Armaverse Armatures has unveiled its new line of Phase 3 stop-motion animation armature kits and parts. Dubbed "Humature" by Armaverse, the six-inch human armature is 100% stainless-steel and allows for smaller sets, lighter characters and easier animation. A revamped head support closely follows human form and makes a convenient base for replacement animation. According to the manufacturer, the precise human proportions of the Phase 3 Humature give completed characters extremely realistic movement with correct 90-degree articulation at the knee and ankle joints.
Montreal-based software developer Crater Software has released the latest version of its 2D cel animation software, CTP Pro version 1.5. In addition to reducing the list price of the software package to $1,299, the company has also released CTP Pro Lite, a limited version of CTP with the same ease of use interface, priced at $299. According to Crater Software President, Joe Alonso, "We have always looked out for the animation student and independent animator.
Spanish software comapny Next Limit has released RealFlow 2, a physical-based particle system that simulates a variety of fluid states based on advanced Computational Fluid Dynamic techniques. RealFlow make use of real fluid equations in a flexible way to accurately simulate a wide range of fluids like liquids, gases and viscous matter. Enhanced by a new streamlined user interface that includes time-sliders to preview fluid simulations over time, RealFlow 2 also offers an improved internal engine for greater particle management.
Digital effects studio Digital Domain has formed D2 Software, Inc. to develop, market and support digital image processing software based upon the proprietary technology developed by the company over the last decade. The flagship of the new companys software line will be Nuke, Digital Domains Academy Award-winning compositing software that operates on NT, Linux and IRIX platforms. "As a nodal-based compositing solution, Nuke is more advanced than anything currently available on the market," noted Michael Taylor, Digital Domains VP, Digital Studio.
Alias|Wavefront announced that it is now offering the mental ray for Maya plug-in at no extra charge to all Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited customers. The mental ray for Maya plug-in, previously priced at US $3,995 is available free to all Maya customers beginning with Maya 4.5. Maya 4.5 customers can now download mental ray for Maya 1.5 public beta at www.aliaswavefront.com/maya/getmental. This announcement covers all platforms which Maya is available for, including Mac.
BOXX Technologies has enhanced its OEM relationship with Sonic Foundry to offer its 3DBOXX workstation customers an array of preloaded software solutions for audio and video multimedia production. Under the terms of the agreement, BOXX is offering workstation configurations preloaded with Sonic Foundry's popular Vegas Video, Sound Forge 6.0 and ACID PRO 4.0 software.
House of Moves motion capture studio (HOM) will now provide facial scanning services at its Los Angeles studio, thanks to a newly signed deal with 3Q inc., a developer of 3D scanning technology. In addition, HOM is now the first non-exclusive third party distributor of 3Q products to the entertainment industry. 3Qs unique scanning approach projects a random light pattern on the subject and captures it with precisely synchronized digital cameras set at various angles. The scan itself takes only two milliseconds per frame.
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.