Discreet recently announced that they have begun shipping the long-awaited upgrade to 3D Studio MAX, 3ds max 4. 3ds max 4 delivers a new and extensible character animation architecture, advanced game development tools and extensive rendering productivity with ActiveShade, Render Elements and unparalleled support for the new Direct 3D technology.
RE:Vision Effects Inc. recently released Shake, Spark and AVX plug-ins of ReelSmart Motion Blur 1.8. This now lets Nothing Real Shake; Avid Media Composer, Symphony and Xpress; and Discreet inferno*, flame*, flint*, fire* and smoke* users take advantage of the plug-in. ReelSmart Motion Blur applies natural-looking motion blur to a video sequence by automatically tracking every pixel and applying blur in the amount and direction of the calculated movement. RE:Vision's tracking technology is at the heart of ReelSmart Motion Blur, so there is no handwork involved.
SOFTIMAGE announced that the eagerly anticipated SOFTIMAGE|XSI 1.5 is now shipping. Building on the highly-acclaimed previous release, SOFTIMAGE have, as Michael David Smith, XSI product manager, says, "touched virtually every part of the software to add new tools and improve existing ones." Utilizing the solid architecture of SOFTIMAGE|XSI 1.0, a large number of new capabilities and performance enhancements were incorporated into the SOFTIMAGE|XSI 1.5 version.
Cycore and bioVirtual recently announced that they had teamed up to create a tool to convert animated 3D humans into interactive 3D images for use on the Web. As a result of this partnership the two companies have released "3DmeNow with Cult3D Exporter" - a tool that allows anyone to create interactive photo-realistic 3D human models, characters and avatars, for use in entertainment, security and scientific applications quickly and easily. 3DMeNow with Cult3D Exporter is based on Cycore Cult3D and the 3DmeNow technology from bioVirtual.
The NetImmerse 3D game engine, currently in use by a number of leading games developers worldwide, has been licensed by Applied Research Associates (ARA) to develop a computer animated training environment for emergency response specialists. ARA is currently developing the simulated environment for a chemical manufacturer, but HazMat teams might eventually use the CD-Rom program worldwide to practice for and respond efficiently to hazardous materials accidents.
Kaydara Inc. will be releasing their real-time character animation system, FiLMBOX, on Apple's highly anticipated Mac OS X platform. FiLMBOX for Mac OS X will provide both a hub for 3D data and a strong set of real-time 3D authoring tools, allowing Mac users to pre-visualize, storyboard and develop character animation. FiLMBOX is a real-time character animation system designed to provide the basis of a complete digital media pipeline.
project:messiah Group (pmG) celebrated their first birthday recently by announcing that they were bringing their highly successful project:messiah character animation software to Apple's OS X. The self-confessed team of die-hard NT developers said that they had high hopes for Apple's new platform, and that the platform could be a worthy challenger to NT and Windows 2000. pmG co-founder Fori Owurowa said that, "By porting to the Mac, we will be tapping into a market of graphics professionals that have been waiting for an application such as ours.
The recently released Avid|DS Version 4.0 has received advance praise from the post-production facilities involved with testing the new system. The major new release has been hailed for its performance, feature improvements and timesaving capabilities. Among the most highly anticipated features in the new version is an optional remote processing capability that enables users to continue working on a project while computationally intensive tasks are being processed in the background, thereby avoiding interruptions to the creative process.
Crater Software has released the latest version of their flagship 2D animation package CTP. Among other things, version 1.4 now offers complete compatibility with Macromedia Flash, making the cartoon production tool ideal for animators looking to publish their work on the Web. "Enhancing CTP 1.4 with Flash compatibility was clearly the next step to take," explained Crater Software President Joe Alonso, "With an overwhelming majority of Web users with Flash installed on their browsers, it has gone from a mere file format to the new standard in Web media delivery.
Digital Film Tools, the producer of Composite Suite, a comprehensive set of visual effects plug-ins for editors and visual effects artists, is offering a free Fast Blur plug-in for Avid editing systems and Adobe After Effects. The plug-in is a high-quality, deep focus blur plug-in that can be downloaded from Digital Film Tools Website at www.digitalfilmtools.com/html/products.html.
Adobe is now shipping the latest version of their award-winning and very popular digital video editing software Premiere. Adobe Premiere 6.0 allows users to edit digital video on a desktop and publish it to the Web in multiple formats, including RealNetworks RealMedia, Microsoft WindowsMedia and Apple QuickTime, quickly and easily. This new version is being dubbed "the tool of choice for DV professionals" because of its built-in support for a large selection of DV devices on Macintosh and Windows platforms.
At Macworld Expo this week, Electric Image announced that a professional version of its Amorphium real-time 3D sculpting and painting program would start shipping later this month. The new product, Amorphium PRO, builds upon its predecessor's real-time interface, while adding significant new modeling, animation and rendering capabilities that make it ideal for 3D artists, Web animators and graphic designers.
SGI recently announced that the source code for its digital media software development kit (dmSDK) for the Linux operating environment is now available to the open source community. The dmSDK toolkit shortens the time required to create digital media applications across the SGI product line by allowing SGI software partners to write to a single application-programming interface (API). dmSDK provides Linux developers with a proven, cross-platform digital media API and is a key enabler allowing digital media developers to deliver applications for this increasing popular operating system.
Autonomous Effects (AFX) recently released version 1.4 of SceneGenie for 3D Studio MAX their powerful match-moving plug-in suite for the award-winning animation package. Version 1.4 continues to enhance the no-measurement match-move capabilities of the CameraGenie portion of SceneGenie, which combines fast feature tracking with a fast computational core to produce 3D matches in minutes.
Stop Motion Pro recently announced that version two of their popular stop-motion software is now available. Stop Motion Pro 2 is a program designed to make creating stop-motion animation easier, while giving animators the power to do things that they may previously not have been able to accomplish. The new version now features a frame looping with capture tool, onion skinning and rotoscoping with onion skinning. The real-time preview, frame toggle and frame editor tools from version 1 have also been overhauled, creating a versatile and powerful package for any stop-motion animator.
At the end of the year 2000, IBM announced the world's fastest UNIX-based workstation, offering nearly two times the performance of similarly configured new UltraSparc-III-based servers from Sun Microsystems. This IBM Model 170 workstation features the most powerful UNIX 3D graphics capability on the market and is shipping right now. It features copper-fueled microprocessors and the latest GXT6000P 3D graphics accelerator from IBM to provide unprecedented levels of performance for companies designing products such as airplanes and automobiles.
Alias|Wavefront announced recently that they would be previewing Maya 3 for Apples OS X at Macworld in San Francisco, January 8 12, 2001. Scheduled for shipping some time this year, Maya is the only high-end 3D modeling and animation product slated for release on the Mac. "We are very excited to be able to offer the Mac community their first glimpse of Maya on the Mac," said Alias|Wavefront director of Maya Technologies, Richard Kerris. "Macworld attendees will have an opportunity to stop by our booth and get an up-close look at how successful the port has been to date.
High-end visual effects software developer Interactive Effects announced the release of Piranha HD version 3.3 for Silicon Graphics workstations. The new version expands on the capabilities of previous releases in the key areas of universal mastering for film and HD, workflow, EDL conforming, effects and performance. Graphics additions to the new system include Wire and Rig Removal, Quad Filter Texturing, a new Transfer Mode effect with 2D Boolean operations and several new artistic blur effects.
NewTek announced late last week that Lightwave 6.5, the new upgrade to their award-winning 3D software, is now available for download from their Website. The new version was originally to be called Lightwave 6.1, but NewTek decided that due to the large array of new features and improvements they would pitch it as a more significant upgrade. "Lightwave 6.0 was a monumental release, and the new architecture it provides has allowed this release to consist of hundreds of features in a relatively short amount of time. Upgrades to follow should be no less significant.
eyeon Software recently announced a major new release of their powerful digital effects and compositing software, Digital Fusion DFX+. DFX+ is a "modular" offering. eyeon has chopped Digital Fusion up into 5 different packages, created a new licensing system and presto their flag ship package is now highly customizable and accessible to all! eyeon also announced that a demo of the software is now available for download from their Website. "If you want to know how a software package performs in the real world, you have to kick the tires and take it for a spin.
Milan-based Phoenix Tools announced the release of RealFur 2.0 a major upgrade to their fur rendering technology. The new version introduces renders up to 10 times faster than the previous version. The key to this speed is that the old volumetric technology has been replaced with a new geometry-based system that allows artists to render millions of polygons without having to display them in the 3D authoring application. An optimized cylinder, with the given color, transparency and other global material parameters, replace each hair strand at the rendering stage.
NewTek has reinforced its commitment to the Macintosh platform by announcing that their newly released Lightwave [6.5] will also be available for Apples new OS X platform. Although NewTek only released Lightwave  on the MAC earlier this year, they have slowly moved their efforts toward the fruity platform.
Toon Boom Technologies has announced its participation in RealNetworks' RealPartner program to refine USAnimation further to work well with RealNetworks' RealSystem. "We're pleased Toon Boom technologies has chosen to support RealSystem and we welcome Toon Boom into the RealPartner Program," said Geoff Walker, senior developer relations manager, RealNetworks, Inc.
Numerical Design Ltd. (NDL) and Nintendo of America announced that the NetImmerse game engine is now available to developers creating games for the highly anticipated Nintendo Gamecube. NetImmerse is a multi-platform game development tool that, according to NDL, can save approximately six months of development time and a year or more of engineering costs. It can be used for a wide variety of game genres and platforms.
REALVIZ announced that the new version of their award-winning camera tracking software, MatchMover, is now shipping. The software is used to track the motion of a camera accurately so that the 3D elements can be seamlessly composited into place. The new version includes a graph editor that allows the user to edit camera parameters as curves on a graph easily. In addition, the new status-tracking feature also allows for the tracking and analyzing of project progress and results.