Alias|Wavefront has begun shipping Maya 4, the latest release of the companys industry leading 3D animation and visual effects software suite. The new release boasts numerous enhancements and optimizations designed to improve the programs overall ease-of-use and efficiency, with particular focus on rendering, character animation, brush and paint tools and games related functionality. The new release includes enhanced functionality and usability in several key areas. Focused improvements have been made throughout Maya to upgrade the UI and streamline the production workflow.
Phoenix Tools, an Italy-based computer graphics software developer, announced the release of Origami 2.0, a high-end set of modules and utilities for Softimage|3D, and a new Maya Shader plug-in. Origami 2.0 allows users to extract or reconstruct the lost 3D information from a set of photographs or a motion sequence. The new package is faster and easier, with greater reliability, giving the user a complete set of tools for all the steps that constitute the complex process of camera tracking and 3D reconstruction.
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Toon Boom Technologies has announced the release of ToonShader, the latest addition to the USAnimation system. ToonShader lets Alias|Wavefront's Maya users import their 3D models and motion capture data directly into USAnimation, giving animators the ability to bring a 3D flair to their 2D animation as well as ouput to all media platforms including the Internet. "Alias|Wavefront is very pleased to welcome USAnimation and ToonShader to the family of integrated plug-ins available for Maya," said Tom Reyburn, developer relations manager for Alias|Wavefront.
Italys Digital Video S.r.l., developers of the 2D animation package Toonz, has started shipping the new 4.5 release for the Windows NT/2000, Irix and Linux operating systems. The new version of Toonz provides a number of new features, including Flash support, a new palette extraction tool, native support for new scanners, DDR to VCR control, new effects, a new wizard button to make batches more efficient and others.
Cambridge Animation Systems has announced Animo for Mac OS X, Apple's next-generation operating system. Animo integrates 2D and 3D animation for development of feature films, animated television series, commercials, games and multimedia projects. "Mac OS X's UNIX-based foundation, advanced Internet features and stunning graphics capabilities make it an ideal platform for digital animation production," said Ron Okamoto, Apple's vice president of worldwide developer relations.
3D authoring technology vendor Caligari Corporation has released trueSpace 5.1, the newest version of its 3D modeling program that now features new support for Macromedia Shockwave3D and other web output capabilities. The company lowered the price for the stand-alone version of trueSpace, as well as launched a new paid subscription-based "proTeam" program of online tools, training programs, libraries and support services.
On Thursday, May 17, 2001, Discreet announced licensing deals with both Microsoft and Microids to include gmax consumer customization tools in each game developers upcoming game titles. This integration of gmax, a product derived from the same code base as the industry-leading 3ds max, means developers can offer customers a flexible, customizable environment within the game where they can create, modify and trade content with fellow players.
Digimation Inc. announced on May 18, 2001 the immediate availability of Bones Pro 3, the latest version of the popular skeletal deformation tool for character and creature animation inside of 3ds max. The new release lets users build a set of underlying bones to deform a mesh, assign the Bones Pro 3 modifier to the mesh and pick the bones that will drive the animation. The new toolkit includes MetaBones and ParaBones, advanced tools that allow users further control of character deformations through the use of simple primitive objects that act as constraints within the skeleton.
Alias|Wavefront announced on Friday, May 18, 2001, that its Maya Shockwave 3D Exporter plugin is now available as a free download from the Alias|Wavefront Website. The plugin can be used to transfer content directly from Maya into Macromedias Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio. A special Website has been set up within the Alias|Wavefront site where the plugin, technical information and examples are available.
Softimage Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology, Inc., has formed a strategic development relationship with Microsoft Corporation to provide professional 3D art tools for modeling and animation for the Xbox video game system. Through this agreement, SOFTIMAGE|XSI animation software and SOFTIMAGE|RTK character middleware will support the creation of Xbox-specific content. "The stunning graphics performance of Xbox is powered by the NVIDIA graphics processing unit (Xbox GPU).
NewTek Inc. announced the release of LightWave [ 6.5]b, a maintenance upgrade that enhances the speed and stability of LightWave [ 6.5 ], and also includes new features and functionality.
Northern Lights Productions and Arete Entertainment announced the release of Arete's award-winning Psunami version 2.0 for Electric Image's Universe. Psunami is a hybrid plug-in/shader that allows users to create photo-realistic oceans and skies. "It's fun to watch people do a double-take when they see a Psunami animation. They can't quite tell that it's not real and that's the goal," said Blair Burtan, founder of Northern Lights.
RE:Vision Effects Inc. has released ReelSmart Twixtor, a re-timing solution for Shake. The plug-in enables artists to speed up and slow down image sequences. Twixtor synthesizes unique new frames by warping and interpolating frames of the original sequence, using proprietary tracking technology that calculates motion for individual pixels.
Advanced Rendering Technology (ART) is shipping its new RenderPipe plug-in for Maya, which offers a seamless interface between RenderDrive and Maya. The plug-in provides Maya users with tightly integrated control and access to RenderDrive's powerful rendering features -- including ultra-fast ray tracing, area lights, depth of field and physically accurate materials libraries -- all from within their Maya application. The new interface, shipping with RenderDrive, supports Maya on Windows NT, IRIX, Linux and Mac OSX, when Maya for the Mac is available.
Adobe announced at NAB the upcoming availability of a plug-in that will optimize Photoshop software for use with the Intel Pentium 4 processor. The new plug-in takes advantage of Intel's latest processor technology and reaffirms Adobe's commitment to providing outstanding performance on the latest technology platforms. Photoshop's software Pentium 4 processor plug-in is expected to be available in May, with no charge to all Photoshop users. Graphic artists who use Photoshop on Intel machines will directly benefit from the Pentium 4 processor's high performance and 144 new instructions.
On April 23, 2001, at NAB, the annual international conference of the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas, Alias|Wavefront announced Maya 4, the sixth major release of its professional 3D animation and visual effects software. This major new release features enhancements and optimizations that will improve the products overall performance and efficiency, particularly in the areas of rendering, character animation, brush and paint tools and games related functionality.
On April 23, 2001, at NAB, the annual international conference of the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas, Softimage demonstrated version 1.5 of its SOFTIMAGE|XSI software and hinted that a new release would be ready for SIGGRAPH in July. "I can't say much more," program manager Michael Smith commented, "but this next release will be big." Softimage introduced its "INNOVATE::CREATE::COLLABORATE" tagline and displayed the power of XSI with images of Manta, a 3D character created in XSI.
On April 23, 2001, Apple announced the immediate availability of QuickTime 5 and the upcoming availability of QuickTime Streaming Server 3 at NAB, the annual international conference of the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas. In addition, Apple is demonstrating a preview version of QuickTime with support for industry-standard MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 encoding and decoding. "QuickTime has been long established as the digital media standard for capturing, encoding and delivering content on the Internet," said Philip Schiller, Apple's vice president of worldwide product marketing.
Macromedia, Inc. announced on April 24, 2001, the immediate availability of Macromedia Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio, which will enable developers to bring 3D-enhanced Shockwave content to the Internet. The program features a new version of the Shockwave Multiuser Server, Havok physics engine for 3D game behaviors, support for Flash 5 and the ability to stream RealMedia content. 3D support in Director and Shockwave Player was jointly developed with Intel Corporation and is built on the Intel Internet 3D Graphics software.
On April 10, 2001, at theMacromedia User Conference (UCON) in New York, Discreet announced a3ds max Shockwave exporter that includes support for rich characteranimation from character studio, dynamic physics from reactor andMultiRes mesh technology. With this integrated exporter, artists cantransfer 3D content directly from 3ds max into the Director 8.5authoring environment for deployment in the Shockwave format. "Withthe Shockwave Player already in use by more than 200 million Web
Discreet announced on April 9, 2001 thatit has begun shipping reactor, an integrated extension for 3ds max 4.Reactor, powered by Havok, incorporates technology that realisticallysimulates cloth, rope, liquid and hard-/soft-body objects thatcollide, bounce, break and stretch. Reactor officially launched lastmonth at the Game Developers Conference. Reactor features includerope dynamics that simulate any deformable chain from realistic hairto knots of climbing ropes; cloth dynamics that give objects
The final beta version of Silicon Grails RAYZ multi-platform compositing software is now available for public beta testing. The beta-testing period will last through April 22, 2001 when RAYZ will be officially launched at NAB. The software is available in versions for SGI IRIX, SGI IRIX (64 bit), Windows NT/Windows 2000, Intel Linux and Alpha Linux. The product is resolution independent making it equally suitable for feature film, large format film, HDTV and standard definition video projects.
Ascension Technology has announced the addition of the X-IST FaceTracker to their line-up of motion-capture tracking devices. The X-IST FaceTracker is a lightweight, head-coupled facial expression tracker using 36 reflective markers to collect real-time motion data on strategic locations such as lips, cheeks and eyelids. Its automatic search, labeling and marker tracking are designed to accelerate production time. The real-time data, transferred to an animation workstation, integrates with Filmbox, Maya, Typhoon, Softimage and other leading software programs.
Toon Boom Technologies, a leading supplier of 2D animation software for major film and television studios, announced Toon Boom Studio 1.0, a new software program the brings high-end 2D animation tools and capabilities to the Web. Targeted at Web designers, advertising agencies and other online content creators, the software is designed to simplify the creation process by automating traditional animation tasks. The new software derives its high-end features from Toon Boom Technologies' acknowledged expertise in the animation market.