SIGGRAPH 2006 in Boston, the 33rd annual industry event that ended today, set the stage for a wealth of new product introductions. Of particular interest were upgraded versions of popular 3D software solutions from leading industry vendors, such as Autodesk, Softimage, and NewTek.
At the show, Autodesk demonstrated its commitment to meeting the demands of next-generation productions by addressing the fundamental challenges artists face today, and how Maya 8 is meeting those challenges. Moreover, Autodesk illustrated how Maya 8 offers 64-bit support, enables artists to address more of a computer’s memory and, therefore, handle larger data sets than those of 32-bit architectures.
Enhancements to multi-threading allow Maya 8 to scale to the amount of processors/cores found in today’s workstations and workstations of the future. Scalable multi-threading in key areas of the software, including skinning, draw tessellation and subdivided polygon proxy meshes, accelerates formerly time-consuming modeling and texturing tasks. In addition, Maya 8 enables artists to better manage data when using multiple 2D and 3D packages within the production pipeline. This is achieved through application programming interface (API) extensions, enhancements to Autodesk FBX file exchange technology, the addition of interchangeable geometry caching between Maya and Autodesk 3ds Max animation software, and new interoperability with Autodesk Toxik collaborative compositing software.
In addition to showcasing its Maya product, resulting from the recent acquisition of Alias, Autodesk also highlighted the key features of 3ds Max at the show. Along with 64-bit support, new lighting, more shaders, and accelerated rendering, 3ds Max 9 offers many features to maximize core performance, productivity, and pipeline efficiency. Also, 3ds Max 9 software’s 64-bit architecture makes it easier to work with the huge datasets required for next-generation digital content creation. Rendering is also greatly improved with the Mental Ray 3.5 rendering core.
Autodesk anticipates that Maya 8 will be available in English in August 2006, and in additional languages in the future. The 64-bit version of Maya 8 will be supported on Windows and Linux. The 32-bit version will be supported on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
Autodesk suggested retail pricing for Maya 8 is $1999 for Maya Complete (Standalone) and $6999 for Maya Unlimited (Standalone). The upgrade price from Maya 7 Complete to Maya 8 Complete is $899, and the upgrade price from Maya 7 Unlimited to Maya 8 Unlimited is $1249.
The Autodesk suggested retail price for Maya Platinum Membership starts at $1299 per year and is available for purchase simultaneously with the product purchase. Platinum Membership customers qualify for access to the latest software updates, technical support case management, valuable product extensions and e-learning materials.
Autodesk anticipates that 3ds Max 9 will be available in English in October 2006, and in additional languages in the future. The Autodesk suggested retail price for 3ds Max 9 software is $3495. The Autodesk suggested retail price to upgrade from 3ds Max 8 to 3ds Max 9 is $795.
The Autodesk suggested retail price for 3ds Max Subscription is $440 per year and is available for purchase simultaneously with the product purchase or upgrade. Subscription customers qualify for access to the latest software updates, valuable product extensions and e-learning materials.http://www.autodesk.com
Softimage Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology Inc., introduced its Face Robot Version 1.5 during SIGGRAPH 2006 in Boston. An update to the industry’s first software application dedicated to the creation of lifelike facial animation, Version 1.5 provides a game export solution that enables artists to deliver high-quality, in-game acting with detailed facial nuances. Face Robot 1.5 features significant performance improvements and support for the new Mova Contour Reality Capture system and all major game platforms
The Face Robot v.1.5 software application has been modified to speed animation playback, while also maintaining the highest-quality deformations. Since the majority of animation tuning occurs around the mouth, particular attention has been taken to optimize the proxy mouth playback mode. Moreover, Face Robot uses a pipeline that allows the upcoming Mova Contour Reality Capture system to export data directly into the Face Robot environment.
Face Robot Version 1.5 software is expected to be available in September 2006 for purchase in various configurations. Face Robot Designer will be available for $94,995, and Designer is a complete environment to prepare, solve, and animate faces. Designer includes the tools to define wrinkles and puffing, place tendons, and fine-tune the mouth. It also includes the functionality of a seat of Animator.
Face Robot Animator will be available for $14,995. Animator, a hybrid environment for both keyframe animation and motion capture, animates faces prepared using Designer. It uses a retargeting algorithm that transfers animation and motion capture across faces and offers tuning controls.http://www.softimage.com
NewTek Inc., a manufacturer of 3D animation and video products, featured in presentations during SIGGRAPH 2006 new technologies slated for upcoming releases of its LightWave 3D animation software solution. Among the new features presented were: a true, 3D photo-realistic motion blur, 3D photo-realistic depth of field, improved OpenGL capability in Modeler, additional capabilities for the new Advanced Camera Tools, and improved sub-surface scattering.
With the addition of Advanced Camera Tools (ACT), Version 9 offers the ability to recreate any real-world camera and provides a selection of cameras well suited to film and television use, as well as for architecture and visualization. The new capabilities showcased at SIGGRAPH include two sample cameras, a RealLens and a two-point perspective. The RealLens camera applies lens distortions in images based upon data files describing the characteristics of real camera lenses. The two-point perspective camera is useful for traditional architectural renderings.
NewTek presented improvements to the OpenGL capabilities in Modeler. The new Node Editing capabilities in LightWave 9 provide a versatile selection of subsurface scattering and anisotropic shaders.
LightWave 9 is available now from resellers and distributors worldwide for a suggested retail price of $795 for full units and $395 for upgrades from previous versions.
Maxon revealed during SIGGRAPH 2006 that its BodyPaint 3D and Cinema 4D software played a role in the development of Monster House, according to visual effects giant Sony Pictures Imageworks. While the texture mapping department was hard at work creating complex textures in BodyPaint 3D, the matte painting department was equally busy crafting stunning matte paintings with Cinema 4D.
Sony Pictures Imageworks' texture lead Dennis Bredow commented on how essential BodyPaint 3D was in texturing all characters, costumes, environments and props for Monster House. BodyPaint 3D's ability to work in concert with Adobe Photoshop, apply textures to models and project paint directly onto surfaces, as well as handle extremely large files was invaluable in their pipeline.
To demonstrate Imageworks' continuing interest in Maxon software, Apryl Knobbe, digital paint lead for Sony Pictures Animation’s first full-length feature film, Open Season, is demonstrating texture mapping and matte painting techniques used in the film in Maxon’s booth (603) at SIGGRAPH 2006.
During this year’s SIGGRAPH, Luxology debuted modo 202, an updated version of its modeling, painting, and rendering software. Luxology also presented a SIGGRAPH series of modo training sessions, which covers a variety of topics from organic character modeling, advanced rendering to lighting effects, 3D painting techniques, and using modo alongside of other tools. Hosted by some of the industry’s most well-respected artists and visual effects professionals, these sessions were free and designed to share information amongst the modo community.
Modo accelerates the creation of models, associated color and normal maps, and high-quality renderings in a modern workflow customized to enhance productivity for 3D artists working in game development, film visual effects, video production, graphic arts, and design visualization. Modo is available for $895 on the Windows and Mac OS X platforms. http://www.modo3d.com