Side Effects Software has announced the upcoming version 5.5 release of their Houdini 3D software. Currently in beta testing, Houdini 5.5 includes a host of new features including VOPs, a powerful, interactive node-based shader and effects builder. Houdini 5.5 also features an expanded Shader Gallery, a new compositor, a drag-and-drop interface, simplified installation and keying, and enhanced character and animation tools. "With the addition of VOPs, we are providing an intuitive interface for all artists to develop and manipulate very advanced shaders and effects without having to write code," explained Paul Salvini, Side Effects Software CTO. "Our library of VOPs contains a wide range of common functions and useful materials like fire, concrete, skin and metal. Because these shaders and effects are built with nested procedural networks, artists can easily manipulate them visually. Many artists have asked for the ability to interactively edit shaders, and we're happy to be able to deliver a tool that enables both shaders and effects to be built in the same intuitive manner. Moreover, VEX operators are easy to share, which will make them very popular given the strong sense of community among Houdini artists." Houdini 5.5 will be available for general release in fall 2002. Side Effects Software is currently shipping Houdini 5. For more information about Houdini visit www.sidefx.com.