Shading and Lighting
Enter AIR Space
SiTex Graphics, maker of the AIR rendering software, has released AIR Space, a stand-alone software tool for shading and lighting 3D models to be rendered with AIR. AIR Space aids users in importing 3D models, assigning shading and lighting properties, and viewing and making modifications in an Interactive Preview Rendering of the scene provided by TweakAIR. An interactive version of AIR, TweakAIR displays soft shadows, reflections, procedural patterns, anti-aliased textures, global illumination, and ambient occlusion. AIR Space features unlimited undo and redo of shading and lighting adjustments, as well as supports other 3D and 2D programs. Additional features include an integrated asset browser, an OpenGL viewport, and support for distributed rendering across multiple computers.
SiTex Graphics; www.sitexgraphics.com
New VTour Version
RealViz is shipping its latest software, VTour, on the Macintosh platform. VTour assists users in creating photorealistic 3D environments from digital photographs or 360-degree panoramas, such as those developed in RealViz Stitcher. VTour is useful for 3D simulation, virtual walk-throughs, virtual reality, computer games, urban planning, and virtual sets for film and television. VTour employs polygonal photo-textured primitives to create 3D scenes, which can then be exported as a 3D movie, geo-referenced 3D scenes for Google Earth, or an interactive application. Version 1.1 offers lossless compression, texture compression quality control, an updated SPi-V3D viewer based on Shockwave, and the ability to export to Autodesk Maya. VTour is available at a cost of $580.
50 More FX
Boris FX has upgraded its Boris FX 2D and 3D compositing and effects plug-in for industry-standard nonlinear editing (NLE) systems. Boris FX 9.0 boasts more than 50 new filters, a revamped user interface design, and a new library of browser templates. Version 9.0 provides support for Apple’s PowerPC and Intel-based Macintosh computers, 16-bit color, and Canopus Edius 4, Sony Vegas 7, and all Avid NLEs. Boris FX 9.0 is now available at a cost of $299, or as an upgrade for $199.
Boris FX; www.borisfx.com
Braid Art Labs announced GroBoto, 3D art and animation software for novices or professionals wanting to create complex, dynamic, lyrical forms and animation easily. This is accomplished by combining artistic expression with interactive exploration of 3D form and motion. The software features intelligent, algorithmic drawing tools, called Bots, that create unique geometric forms ranging from organic, to abstract, to architectural. A kinetic morphing animation system produces fluid motion automatically based on a few Bot keyframes. The product is available now for $79.
Braid Art Labs; www.braid.com
Nvidia has unveiled its GeForce 8800 graphics processing unit (GPU) and nForce 680i SLI media and communications processor (MCP), both designed for high-resolution, high-performance gaming, and high-definition visuals. The GeForce 8800 GTX supports Microsoft DirectX 10, the next-generation programming interface to be introduced with the Microsoft Vista operating system. The new graphics card also boasts a unified shader architecture with up to 128 parallel 1.35ghz processors, simultaneous 16x anti-aliasing, 128-bit high dynamic range lighting, and Nvidia Quantum Effects physics processing technology. Nvidia’s nForce 680i SLI-based MCP was designed specifically for Intel’s new Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Duo processors. The new MCP offers support for Nvidia SLI multi-GPU technology and SLI-ready memory DIMMS, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, and a third PCIe graphics slot. Nvidia is now delivering the GeForce 8800 GTX and nForce 680i.
Alienware is infusing its high-end Area-51 7500, Aurora 7500, and ALX desktop systems with new Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX graphics processing units (GPU) in single or dual-GPU mode. The industry’s first GPU to be fully compliant with next-generation DirectX 10 games and applications, the GeForce 8800 GTX takes advantage of Nvidia SLI technology, which enables up to double the gaming power of a single-GPU configuration. Alienware’s desktops also benefit from the card’s advanced unified shader architecture, high-speed memory interface, two dual-link DVI outputs, and Nvidia nForce 680i SLI-based motherboard in an SLI configuration. Alienware is now accepting customer orders on its Web site for systems integrating the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX.
Blending Traditional and Digital
Light Strokes’ OptiPaint system is reportedly the first product to enable artists to use traditional paint brushes and painting tools with today’s computer graphics software. The solution includes optical and electronic hardware and plug-in software compatible with Adobe Photoshop and other paint programs. Called a combination of high-tech and high-touch mediums, OptiPaint recognizes changing shapes and textures as tools, including fingers and hands for all-digital finger painting, which are applied to the system’s surface.
Light Strokes; www.optipaint.com
Encoding with NCode
Bluefish444 is shipping the Bluefish444 Rage NCode real-time encoding HD MPEG-2 video compression system. For use with all HD video resolutions, Rage NCode is well suited to such applications as digital content creation, postproduction, live streaming, HD archival, multi-channel SD compressed ingest, and HD-DVD/Blu-ray authoring. The new Rage NCode system, based on the Bluefish444 HD-Fury single-link HD/SD SDI I/O card, includes the company’s Symmetry software for acquisition, review, and playback, as well as Aspex’s Accelara HD MPEG-2 Encoder PCI-X card. Bluefish444 Rage NCode is software-programmable and able to ingest from live, uncompressed sources, such as HD/SD cameras and tape decks. It also provides real-time HD MPEG-2 encoding, multi-channel real-time SD MPEG-2 encoding, and support for Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, Autodesk Cleaner XL, Sony Vegas, Adobe Encore 2.0, and Sonic DVDit. The Bluefish444 Rage NCode system is priced at $14,990.
Tripling Display Space
Matrox Graphics’ TripleHead2Go is a palm-sized piece of hardware that stretches the Windows desktop, with a resolution of up to 3840x1024 pixels, across three displays, each with full acceleration. TripleHead2Go is a Graphics Expansion Module (GXM), external boxes that connect a computer via a standard analog VGA monitor cable to provide multi-monitor support. DCC professionals can create a Surround Design experience in which multiple views of a design can be examined or multiple applications can be displayed simultaneously. Priced at $299, TripleHead2Go is compatible with Windows 2000 and XP operating systems and desktop and laptop PCs equipped with certain Nvidia and ATI graphics chipsets and add-in boards.
Matrox Graphics; www.matrox.com/graphics
SATA Solution by Sonnet
Sonnet Technologies has introduced a new model in its line of Serial ATA (SATA) host adapters. The Tempo host adapter for ExpressCard/34, designed for laptop computers, includes two external 300mb/sec SATA ports. The new controller also features two external 3gb/sec SATA II ports, support for up to 10 disk drives, and compatibility with Apple MacBook Pro 15- and 17-inch laptops and any Windows notebook computer with an ExpressCard 54 or ExpressCard 34 slot. For use with Windows XP and Mac OS X RAID 0, 1, and 10, the Tempo SATA host adapter is priced at $129.95.
Adobe Wins Emmy for Flash Video
Adobe Systems has won a Technical and Engineering Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for its Flash Video technology. Adobe Flash software was recognized as having a pivotal role in bringing television content to the Internet. The award for Streaming Media Architecture & Components will be formally delivered to Adobe at a ceremony during the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which will take place in Las Vegas this month. Television shows—such as Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey’s Anatomy—are being delivered online with the help of Flash Video, which also fuels the video capabilities of sites such as YouTube and MySpace. Flash Video is delivered via Adobe Flash Player, which is installed on more than 700 million Internet-connected desktops and mobile devices to date.
Artbeats has unveiled Ground Rush 3—Southwest, the newest addition to the company’s ground rush stock footage series. Shot with the HD Gyron camera for high stability and resolution, Ground Rush 3 offers imagery of the Painted Desert, red rock monoliths, mesas, cliffs, rocky buttes, and desert plains of the scenic Southwest. For broadcast, feature films, commercials, multimedia designs, games, and independent productions, Ground Rush 3—Southwest is available in HD-1920x1080, D1 NTSC-720x486, and D1 PAL-720x576 resolutions. Pricing for Artbeats’ HD collections range from $799 to $899, whereas standard-definition releases are priced between $229 and $699.