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.
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.
At 3December, Alias|Wavefront announced that they are giving away copies
of their Maya Paint FX plug-in for free. The 3D Paint FX tools will
be present in the next major release of Maya. But as Jill Ramsay,
product manager for Maya and Brush Technologies explained, "We wanted
to make this powerful brush-based technology available to our
customers as part of our 3December celebration, instead of waiting
for the next major Maya release." So for registered users of Maya the
Pulse Entertainment announced last week that they are developing a Pulse Exporter for Maya. This would allow Alias|Wavefront users to export interactive, real-time 3D animation created using the Maya platform directly into Pulse and onto the Web.
Bruce Manning drags a mouse wired to his Mac G4 through this new tool and reveals that no person wearing a blue shirt against a blue screen is too tough for this matte creating program. Happy compositing is here again.
SensAble Technologies announced the release of version 3 of their FreeForm modeling system. The new release expands on the previous version's shape creation capabilities while maintaining the fundamental FreeForm touch advantage. When combined with the FreeForm system's unique ability to create complex blends and highly sculpted details, the result is a very powerful modeling solution. The new version also features new surface creation tools, which make the transition downstream to production easier then ever before.
Macromedia has announced that the eagerly awaited Dreamweaver 4 Fireworks 4 Studio is now available. Dubbed "the complete solution for professional Website design and production," the new package is comprised of Dreamweaver 4, the new version of Macromedias award-winning Web design package and the new version of their popular graphics tools Fireworks. The studio package unifies HTML code and graphics workflow and provides professional Web designers with an integrated authoring platform designed to simplify the Web design process, while retaining maximum control over the final outcome.
pmG (project:messiah Group) announced earlier this month that they have been invited by Intel to be one of twelve leading digital content creators and software developers to demonstrate products designed for the upcoming Itanium processor. The young company (started in January 2000) has already made a big impact on the industry. To be approached by Intel along with companies like Discreet, Avid|SOFTIMAGE, and NewTek in such a short time, is rather impressive.
The producers of award winning 2D professional animation software Animo announced key corporate and product changes at Digital Media World. As well as launching their new corporate image, Cambridge Animation Systems (CAS) announced a new reseller strategy that includes the appointment of 30 new resellers. The company also told press that the company had undergone some major management changes and restructures in fitting with their new strategy.
Discreet made several announcements at Londons Digital Media World conference, most of them revolving around the upcoming 3D Studio Max 4. The newly named product, 3D Studio Max 4, is to be released in January 2001, and Discreet announced that the details of the product were premiering on their new Animation Zone Website (www.discreet.com/animation). Version 4 of their award winning 3D app will feature new Inverse Kinematics tools and better rendering technology.
At Digital Media World in London, Toon Boom Technologies will release USAnimation Version 5's second service pack. In addition to bug fixes and general improvements, this service pack brings with it a number of new features. They include a New Line Texturing, which allows for different styles of line animation (like crayon, chalk, etc.) and in Sceneplanning, one can display all the keyboard shortcuts in an easy-to-use help menu. In addition, the pack offers a horizontal flipping of images, which means that one can now flip images horizontally when scanning.
Germany-based Dosch Design has announced the release of several new texture collections, further expanding its highly successful line of 3D-animation stock CD-Roms. The most significant addition to the Dosch family of products is a three-bundle set of texture CD-Roms called Dosch Textures Complete. Each of the three bundles is targeted at a specific area of 3D. The first collection, "Character Design," contains animal and creature eyes, human eyes and skin textures. The "Architecture and Design" bundle contains construction materials, industrial-design and reflection-maps.
Nothing Real announced recently that their popular compositing tool Shake is now available on the Linux operating system. Version 2.3 is the company's first release to support the Linux platform, making Shake available on Windows NT, IRIX and Linux operating systems. The new release, which was Beta-tested by Cinesite Europe on the Linux platform, includes several new features and improvements. New color correction tools allow artists to color match different elements of source material quickly and easily. In addition, the new tools allow for selective color replacement.
Spurred on by overwhelming high-end interest, Joe Alter, Inc. will release Shave EXTREME, a high-end version of "Shave and a Haircut," the hair and fur software that has true integrated dynamic hair simulation, inverse kinematics and collision integrated into the modeling environment. Currently, the program works with LightWave and Messiah. Shave EXTREME will endeavor to replace/augment cumbersome in-house hair creation and rendering pipelines. Amongst an ambitious list of planned enhancements is direct and efficient support of Pixar's Renderman rendering software.
Montreal 3D digitizing firm, InSpeck, Inc., announced the official launch of its new Multi-Head 3D digitizing system, FAPS. The product is a single-unit, modular solution that uses multiple digitizers to acquire data of a complete 3D surface within a few seconds. The company's software has also been updated, offering a new, intuitive user interface and the ability to handle acquisition data from the Multi-Head system. InSpeck's new Multi-Head System is designed to digitize/compile up to six different views of a 3D model, and automatically merge them into a composite 3D image.
House of Moves (HOM), a world-leader in motion capture services and technology, has released its custom software plug-in Dominatrix for Maya 3.0 on Windows NT, with Win2k and Irix shipping soon. The Dominatrix plug-in addresses several problems by allowing animators to use traditional Inverse Kinematic "key-frame" animation techniques in conjunction with all of the nuances of motion-captured performance and allowing animators to compensate for differences in proportion between live performers and CG characters.
3Dup.com and DeEspona Infografica have started distributing free 3D models over the Internet. The agreement between the Web portal for 3D artists, 3Dup.com, and DeEspona Infografica, a 3D modeling company, has started the free distribution of quality three-dimensional models for special effects in movies and advertising spots. DeEspona Infografica, a European company whose 3D models are used by DreamWorks (GLADIATOR) and RezN8 (spots on CBS, NBC and ABC), are among the best in the market due to the realism and finish. The models are available at http://3dup.com/highmodels.
Steamboat Software, a Los Angeles developer of high-end computer graphics and visual effects software, has announced the release of Jig Software to the general public. Jig is a comprehensive solution for rendering traditional geometry, as well as photorealistic hair, volumes and particles. The software has been ported to SGI and NT platforms, but is primarily developed on and for the Linux operating system. Jig is designed to be scalable, performing well on modest workstations as well as large rendering clusters.
At Pixar, Renderman NT is shipping, making the popular rendering software used in most visual effects films available to a much larger user base. However, Larry Gritz, developer of BMRT (available for download at www.bmrt.org/), the shareware rendering software most recently utilized in HOLLOW MAN and THE CELL, and co-author of ADVANCED RENDERMAN: CREATING CGI FOR MOTION PICTURES, is no longer with Pixar, though the hope is BMRT development will continue.
At the Ottawa International Animation Festival, Animation Toolworks introduced a completely new electronic audio-video device for animators, the LunchBox Sync. The LunchBox Sync is a successor to their Video LunchBox, which enables animators to test their work in progress instantly and eliminate time-consuming errors by monitoring pacing, lighting, audio synchronization and registration. The LunchBox Sync captures still images from a video camera and plays back this sequence of images at the same rate as film or television.