New Wave NURBS tool
Win Based on its ProSurf 3D modeling and fairing program for boats and ships, New Wave Systems' Pilot3D is a trimmed NURBS 3D modeling tool featuring editing and shelling of polysurfaces, plate development and expansion, and a database of airfoil shapes. Selling for $495, the software offers detailed surface shaping and fairing tools as well as dynamic geometric constraints, and it provides the ability to "bond" two surfaces together edge to edge so that users can edit and shape connected polysurfaces without them coming apart. In addition, users can attach a curve to a surface and use it to trim the shape of the surface. Once defined, the trim curve or the underlying surface can then be edited, dynamically showing the changes to the trimmed surface.
New Wave Systems; www.newavesys.com
GDL object modeler
Win | MAC A new solution for modeling 3D Geometric Description Language (GDL) objects, Zoom GDL from Abvent enables ArchiCAD users to build their own GDL objects easily and integrate them into their ArchiCAD projects. Using classic design tools such as extrusion, piping, and curved surfaces, Zoom GDL users can create a range of 3D objects, including such complex shapes as soft chairs, windmill engines, and metal curtain walls. In addition, Zoom GDL objects can be distributed on CD-ROM or on the Internet, where they can be viewed, modified, and downloaded for use in architectural projects. Price not available.
3D parametrics for GIS/CAD
Win Evans & Sutherland is targeting GIS and CAD users with the latest release of its Rapidsite terrain visualization software. With Rapidsite Version 2.2, users can utilize ESRI ArcView shapefiles and AutoCAD DWG files to automatically generate parametric 3D feature models and place them in a dynamic 3D site visualization. In addition, Version 2.2 offers performance and usability improvements, such as texture management enhancements, support for ArcView projects containing multiple shapefiles, and the ability to generate 360-degree digital panoramic images along with video flythroughs and walkthroughs for use on Web sites and in other marketing materials. Price not available.
Evans & Sutherland; www.es.com
Win | MAC Ashlar-Vellum's new Designer Elements product line comprises five applications: Graphite, Neon, Argon, Xenon, and Cobalt. Graphite ($995) facilitates rapid drawing creation, variation in shapes, and design iterations. Neon ($495) utilizes 3D engineering models to create marketing models, renderings, and animations for print and the Web, including web formats such as Shockwave 3D. Argon ($995) integrates precision freeform NURBS surfaces and solids and includes surface verification, photorealistic rendering, and animation tools. Xenon ($2795) is targeted at industrial designers and integrates associative, history-based model modification techniques and associative 2D mechanical drafting. And Cobalt ($3995) features an engineering toolset built on the technologies in Argon and Xenon, providing 2D and 3D equation-driven parametrics and assembly tools that include constraint management, associative detail and section views, and production injection molding capabilities.
Win Highlighting the features in the new Esprit 2002 CAM software from DP Technology is a solid simulation and verification tool that provides synchronized solid simulation of multifunction mill/turn machines and Swiss-style lathes. In addition, a new Project Manager offers full support for 4/5-axis production milling and maximizes the performance of the software's new Automatic Feature Recognition function and automated pocketing and contouring machining cycles. Esprit 2002 also includes enhanced knowledge-based machining capabilities. Price not available.
DP Technology; www.dptechnology.com
Win AutoSolids Express, a 3D solid modeling add-on for AutoCAD and AutoCAD-based products, offers users a constraint-free parametric architecture for easy creation and editing of 3D solids. The software features QuickDraw automatic 3D-to-2D tools for 2D drawing production, as well as RealView visualization tools for real-time display manipulations in wireframe, hidden, or shaded display modes. The 100 percent AutoCAD-compatible product also features the AutoCAD standard user interface for ease of use and a short learning curve. AutoSolids Express is available from AutoSolids for a single-user license price of $495.
Free GDL-converter plug-in
Win Available from ExpressionTools, the ETShade-GDL Converter Plug-In converts 3D graphics data created with the company's ETShade 3D modeling, rendering, and animation software into the GDL (Geometric Description Language) format and saves it as an ArchiCAD object file. The plug-in is available as a free download for registered users of ETShade Pro R4/E.
Solid Edge parts library
Win SE-PartsXL, a parametric parts library for SolidEdge V9 and V10, is a plug-in that runs inside SolidEdge and can create more than 1 million standard and manufacturer-specific parts, including bearings, fasteners, and steel shapes. Available from Cadalog, the plug-in creates selected components on the fly, supports SolidEdge native modeling features, and supports ANSI, ISO, DIN, and JIS industrial standards and more than 37 different American and Japanese manufacturer catalogs. The plug-in also is available in an online version. Introductory price is $295; regular price is $495.
Cadalog; www.partsxl.com and www.cadalog.com
Panoramic photo viewer
Win With Realviz's new Coolviz, users can display high-quality images, panoramas, and virtual tours on a standard PDA. Among the product's features are picture folder management, image rotation, and a slide-show format. Users also can exchange images quickly and easily by "beaming" them from one PDA to another through the PDA's infrared port. CoolViz supports .jpg, .gif, .bmp, .png, .tga, and .tif file formats and is available on Compaq iPaq, HP Jornada, and Casio Cassiopeia PDAs for $12.95.
MODELING AND ANIMATION
New World Builder
Win Digital Element is now offering the Standard version of its World Builder 3.0 landscape creation and animation software for $399. According to the company, the Standard version features OpenGL support, an undo-redo feature, a revised Area editor, improved rendering, support for translucency and antialiasing, improved shadowing and point light shadows, new shades and filters, a Plant and Grass editor, and new file format and unit conversion support. It also offers a newly introduced plug-in and support for characters created using Curious Labs' Poser. A Professional version, selling for $999, adds to these features a 3ds max plug-in as well as network rendering support.
Digital Element; www.digi-element.com
Win Deneba Software has enhanced its Canvas illustration application with such features as vector and raster sequence recording, full scripting support, manual and automatic Web image slicing, direct Macromedia Flash export, and built-in support for DenebaShare, the company's peer-to-peer graphics exchange network. In addition, users can now "paint" textures, vector symbols, hatches, and gradients using airbrush, marker, paintbrush, and paint bucket tools. Plus, the software offers new effects filters including Bevel, Crystallize, Oil Painting, Stained Glass, and Lens Flare. The software sells for $395.
Deneba Software; www.deneba.com
A galaxy of plug-ins
Win | MAC Plugin Galaxy for AE, available from The Plugin Site, is a collection of 20 After Effects plug-ins containing 129 different animatable video effects. With the $99 plug-in, users can manipulate transparency, create blurs, generate textures and patterns, create noise, and perform mirroring and warping. The software also includes metal, chrome, neon, pop art, glass, rainbow, sunshine, star, feedback, grid, and zoom effects, and users can enhance, colorize, and add edges to animations and videos as well as encrypt them. In addition to After Effects 4/5, the software also can be used with Adobe Premiere 6, Final Cut Pro, and Pinnacle Commotion 3.
The Plugin Site; http://plugingalaxy.com
Win NT | 2000 According to SensAble Technologies, its FreeForm Version 4.0 touch-based modeling application includes more than 60 new features and enhancements. Among them are an enhanced sketching capability that provides more control over the shape of curves, and the addition of 3D curves, which allow creation and precise control over more sophisticated shapes. Version 4.0 also includes a new offset function to help with the creation of shell models, and a new suite of modeling tools for interactively modifying designs into functional products. Also of note; with the Version 4.0 release FreeForm is available in two packages: the original FreeForm, and the new FreeForm Plus, which adds shape creation and deformation techniques. Pricing starts at $15,000.
SensAble Technologies; www.sensable.com
Pixologic enhances ZBrush
Win | MAC Key among the features of Pixologic's ZBrush version 1.23 is a new ZScript language that enables users to automate all ZBrush actions. ZScripts also combine complex actions into one button-click and can be loaded and executed on demand within the ZBrush environment. The new version also features Instant Replay, which enables users to replay any brushstroke with additional transformation applied (including translation, scaling, and rotation). Each brushstroke can be recorded into a stroke set, exported/imported, and replayed at any time. Added features, including stencils, which enable users to mask their painting and modeling actions using any grayscale image, and the ability to sculpt and paint 3D geometry in real time, also are included in the package, which is available at an introductory price of $292.50. Suggested online price is $585.
Physics module for Cinema 4D
Win | MAC Maxon Computer is bringing real-world dynamics simulation capability to users of its Cinema 4D XL software. With the new Cinema 4D Dynamics plug-in, users can simulate such dynamics forces as friction, gravity, collisions, springs, and wind. Dynamics are applied to existing objects or to the points of an object as modifiers. Solver objects complete the calculation and make the interaction more responsive in the editor. In addition, baking can be used to bring dynamics projects to rendering machines that don't have the plug-in installed. Retail price is $495.
Maxon Computer; www.maxon.net
Character animation plug-ins
Win | MAC Two new plug-ins that promise to simplify the character animation process will soon be available to users of Maxon's Cinema 4D XL. Doppelganger is an interactive, slider-based, morph-blending system that enables users to blend any number of targets to create a virtually limitless number of facial expressions. Users can then morph smoothly from shape to shape to create their animations. Doppelganger works on any object in Cinema 4D that has points, and it supports hierarchy so that users can morph poses as well as points. Golem, meanwhile, is a collection of more than a dozen constraints and utilities designed to facilitate IK-based animation. Users can aim objects at multiple targets, smoothly transitioning between them, and automatically adjust the bank rotations of an object for improved targeting. Additional features include automatic squash and stretch, and time delay for simple secondary motion, such as jiggling bellies and whiplash effects. Both plug-ins are from Tartarus Development and should be available Q4 through Maxon's Web site. Prices not available.
Maxon Computer; www.maxoncomputer.com
In the Spotlight
Win | MAC VectorWorks Spotlight 9.0.1, the newest release of Nemetschek North America's entertainment design software, takes advantage of the new 64-bit floating point coordinate system established in the VectorWorks core for improved stability and accuracy. In addition, the software supports NURBS and sports a new interface that streamlines routine drafting and modeling tasks. Added features include new dimensioning technology and support for associated dimensioning; easier tool and command customization; OpenGL rendering; editable worksheets; and an updated instrument library with European and metric measurements. Price not available.
Nemetschek North America; www.nemetschek.net
Win | MAC | UNIX Among the new features in LightWork Design's LightWorks Version 6.0 are enhanced area-light support, meaning that the color of the light emitted from the light source is determined by the geometry and shape of the area light, and by the materials associated with the light source. Area-light calculations also are up to three times faster than before. Plus, interactive hardware-assisted shadows are now available within the software's OpenGL module, enabling users to interactively see the effect of light changes. Additional new features include an advanced material manager allowing the creation of user archives, interactive light positioning tools and controls, interactive decal positioning, and an advanced scenery manager. Price not available.
LightWork Design; www.lightwork.com
Flash output for Maya
Win Cambridge Animation Systems is now shipping Swiffworks for Maya 4.0, a plug-in that delivers Macromedia Flash output to users of Alias|Wavefront's Maya. Users can choose a Swiffworks material, or use the default Phong material provided by Maya. Swiffworks materials also provide independent control of ink lines and painted regions, allowing line thickness to be animated and colored separately from the painted area. In addition, users can control the color, width, and generation of ink lines, including folds, silhouettes, region lines, borders, and intersection lines. The Swiffworks renderer is fully integrated into Maya 4.0, and will be available on IRIX and Mac OS X later this year. Swiffworks sells for $575, or $800 in a bundle with Inkworks, Cambridge Animation's 'toon shader.
Cambridge Animation Systems; www.cambridgeanimation.com
Pipeline to the Web
Win NT | Win 2000 | SGI IRIX With the Swift 3D XSI plug-in from Electric Rain, Softimage|XSI users can access vector-based 2D formats, including Macromedia Flash, so that they can re-purpose their 3D content for use on Web pages and in printed media. At the core of the plug-in is RAViX II, a vector rendering technology that converts 3D model meshes into vector-based gradient shaded 2D images. According to the company, the plug-in can render with a variety of animation styles, from cel animation to shaded models with gradient fills. The plug-in sells for $475.
Electric Rain; www.erain.com
Interactive 3D application
With Virtools Dev 2.0 from Virtools, users can quickly and efficiently create game-quality interactive 3D imagery for CD-ROM or the Web. The product comprises four key elements: the graphical user interface, a behavior engine for interactivity, a rendering engine for visualizing the applications, and an SDK to code proprietary behaviors, create executables, and get low-level access to all features of the different engines. Price not available.
Seeing in stereo
Win 98 | Win NT | Win 2000 With the SynthaGram Monitor from StereoGraphics Corp., scientists, doctors, engineers, and other viewing audiences can see in stereo without wearing special eyewear. The monitor includes an LCD panel, a lenticular screen, an SDK including an API, a viewer to play back the stereo images on the display, a graphics card with digital output adapter, and software plug-ins enabling the creation of autostereoscopic images from within existing graphics programs. Linux and Unix operating systems will be supported in future versions of the SDK. The monitor costs $6000.
StereoGraphics Corp.; www.stereographics.com
The Silicon Graphics F180 18.1-inch digital flat-panel display uses Advanced In-Plane Switching (AIPS) technology to reportedly yield higher brightness, increased contrast, and wider color gamut than previously available on comparable LCD displays. Priced at $1495, the F180 features 1280x1024 resolution in a 1.3-megapixel format screen and offers dual input capability with VGA and DVI-I connectors, enabling analog or digital input for compatibility with a range of video cards.
Silicon Graphics; www.sgi.com
Targeted at the jewelry, medical, electronic enclosure, and tooling industries, the Viper si2 SLA solid imaging system from 3D Systems Corp. combines standard and high-resolution part building in the same system. The Viper si2 builds parts with a smooth surface finish, high optical clarity, high accuracy, and thin, straight vertical walls. Optimized for use with CIBATOOL SL materials, the system's new solid-state Viper laser delivers fast draw speeds and high throughput. The Viper si2 also comes equipped with upgraded versions of 3D Lightyear part preparation and Buildstation control software. Price not available.
3D Systems; www.3dsystems.com
Rapid manufacturing systems
Win DTM's new Vanguard and Vanguard HS (High Speed) SLS systems are similar to the company's current Sinterstation systems in that both use DTM's SLS selective laser sintering process. However, the new Vanguard systems offer improved accuracy and enable users to create even thinner walls and more delicate features in the .5- to .6mm range. In addition, the Vanguard HS can create parts with a smoother surface finish, due to its improved, proprietary scanning strategy and new Celerity Beam Delivery System. The HS version also is faster than the Sinterstation, offering up to a 50 percent speed increase. Prices not available.
DTM Corp.; www.dtm-corp.com
Available from Encad for $5495, the NovaJet 736 is a 36-inch, wide-format printer that features 600-dpi resolution, includes an Adobe PostScript 3 Vibrant-Link RIP, and is compatible with Encad's full line of indoor and outdoor media. The printer also features four 500ml bulk ink reservoirs, each of which is refillable on the fly for continuous printing.