DESIGN ENGINEERINGSolidWorks Oaffice SuiteWin
SolidWorks has combined its SolidWorks 2001 3D CAD software with six of its most popular add-on applications and is calling the new application SolidWorks Office. The six add-ons include PhotoWorks, SolidWorks Animator, 3D Instant Website, SolidWorks Toolbox, FeatureWorks, and SolidWorks Utilities. Combined, they give users a range of functionality, from part and assembly modeling, drawing generation, and data interoperability to photorealistic rendering, standard part libraries, design animation, 3D web publishing, feature recognition, and design analysis. SolidWorks Office sells for $4995 and is supported by its own Subscription Service program, which is priced at an annual rate of $1295. Upgrades cost $995.
SolidWorks Corp.; www.solidworks.comWeb-based product manager
The bom.com application from bom.com helps users share, manage, organize, and access product data, including CAD drawings. An Internet connection and a standard Web browser are the only requirements for running bom.com. The system's latest component is the Supplier Access Module, which lets a company's supply chain partners access specified product information throughout the development phase. Both bom.com and the Supplier Access Module are sold on a subscription basis. Pricing for bom.com starts at $1000 per year per user; the supplier module starts at $1000 per year per five users for basic access.
New CFD toolsWin | UNIX | LINUX
The latest versions of CFX's CFX-TASCflow and CFX-TurboGrid computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools are designed to further improve functionality, performance, and ease of use for the analysis of fluid flows, heat, and mass transfer for a range of mechanical engineering applications. For instance, CFX-TASCflow, which is designed for the analysis of multi-dimensional fluid flow and heat transfer processes, now features customizable menus and icon bars for easier access to third-party software and other CFX tools. Plus, a new solver monitor enables convergence criteria and application-specific quantities such as efficiencies to be monitored during a simulation; new turbulence models have been added; and post processing has been enhanced to reduce numerical processing time. Meanwhile, CFX-TurboGrid, an interactive grid generation tool designed to ensure an accurate mesh in the blade passage of turbomachines, now also features a customizable interface and enhanced post-processing, and boasts a new smoothing capability to increase the quality of meshes produced. The new modeling tools can run on single or multiple CPUs. Prices not available.
CFX; www.cfx.aeat.comAnimating engineering modelsWin
Virtual Reality Toolbox 2.0, from The MathWorks is a 3D animation application that adds virtual reality visualization and simulation to the company's MatLab and Simulink applications, thereby enabling engineers to more easily demonstrate complex designs to their design teams. The Toolbox connects MatLab and Simulink with a VRML-enabled browser that lets users display a virtual 3D representation of the modeled system. Because the rendering is done by a browser, engineers can view and interact with simulated virtual worlds on remote computers running MatLab and Simulink. The Toolbox also includes a VRML plug-in for Web browsers and a VRML authoring tool for creating and customizing virtual reality worlds. Prices start at $1000 for a single-user PC license.
The MathWorks; www.mathworks.comCAD on the WebWin
Actify's 3DView 4.0 view, measurement, and markup software ships with the company's SpinFire desktop CAD viewer, enabling designers to send free viewable 3D designs with comments as email file attachments as well as publish designs on the Web for free. In addition to support for all major CAD systems, including Pro/E, Catia, SolidWorks, and Solid Edge, the software includes real-time rotation, large design navigation, accurate measurement, and design analysis tools. 3DView 4.0 sells for $495.
MODELING AND ANIMATIONScene reconstruction
SynaPix has announced new scene reconstruction software that streamlines the process of building textured 3D models used in game development, film and TV production, and industrial and architectural design. Called SynaVision, the resolution-independent application enables users to reconstruct a scene and the objects within it using geometric constructs and generative surfaces. What's more, precise image registration enables users to exactly register reconstructed scenes with the originally shot pixels. Added features include the ability to import animated characters for previsualization; and the ability to import camera paths from SynaPix's SynaMatch as well as other vendors' matchmoving applications. The software integrates with Alias|Wavefront's Maya, Discreet's 3ds max, NewTek's LightWave, and Avid's Softimage. Price not available.
SynaPix; www.synapix.comFacial animation applicationWin
New from LipSinc, AniMeter is a metered batch-processing application that uses prerecorded voice, supplied by the animator, to generate facial animation data, including lip sync and corresponding speech gestures for 2D and 3D talking digital characters. Animators purchase from LipSinc only the amount of dialog processing they need for a given project. AniMeter processing time is available, at $200 per minute, in quantities of 90 seconds, 3 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, and 1 hour. The standard data generated by AniMeter can be used with several animation applications, including Discreet's 3ds max, Alias|Wavefront's Maya, NewTek's LightWave, and Hash's Animation:Master. Although the software is optimized for American English, it also can be used with other languages, including French, Italian, German, Japanese, and Chinese.
LipSinc; www.lipsinc.comA new UniverseWin | MAC | solaris
New character animation tools, interface enhancements, and modeler updates highlight the list of new features in Electric Image's Universe 4.0 3D animation system. Specifically, the new version boasts a new constraint system, paint-on weight mapping, and an advanced skinning system, as well as previews for motion blurs and depth-of-field rendering, global illuminator lighting options, and optimized OpenGL support in Modeler. Version 4.0 follows the 3.1 update of Universe released in July, which added faster rendering as well as rendering support for Mac OS X, among other features. Version 4.0 is expected to begin shipping this fall. Price not available.
Electric Image; www.electricimage.com
The Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) at the University of Southern California has unveiled HDR Shop, a full-featured image manipulation program that supports high-dynamic-range (HDR) images, or images whose brightness levels correspond to actual quantities of light in the real world. Developed by a team under the guidance of ICT graphics researcher Dr. Paul Debevec, the application enables users to create HDR images by compiling a sequence of standard digital images taken with varying levels of exposure. As the user edits the HDR image, he or she can brighten and darken its appearance in order to browse through its full dynamic range. In addition to resampling, cropping, and mathematical operations, HDR Shop also supports transformations among common panoramic image formats, facilitating the use of HDR panoramas for illuminating CG objects with light captured in the real world. Programmers can add their own operations to the program, thanks to its plug-in architecture. The software is available free of charge for academic and noncommercial use.
ICT; www.debevec.org/hdrshopGenerating facesWin
A head generator for Discreet's 3ds max 3 and 4, Digimation's FaceGen is built around a series of published anatomical metrics for real-life male and female heads. The plug-in offers a set of Custom Mesh components, so users can create their preferred head style and then add a skeletal structure beneath it. This simplifies the process of matching eyes, teeth, and tongues to models because the custom components are aware of the surrounding mesh and will align as expected. FaceGen sells for $195.
Not just for moviesWin
A new solution for modeling, designing, and animating 3D objects for applications including film, TV, games, and architecture, Movie3D from AIST comes with a variety of tools for designing virtual models and everyday objects, as well as for creating entire fantasy worlds. Some features include NURBS curves and surfaces, a 3D paint program, post-production effects including glows, motion blurs, and lens flares, a UV coordinate editor, and animation tools including bones and lattice mapping. Objects and animations created in Movie3D can be imported into AIST's MoviePack video editing and compositing program. Movie3D sells for $199. MoviePack sells for $799.
AIST; www.aist.comJewelry design toolWin
Caligari Corp. has released a version of its trueSpace 3D modeling and animation program customized for the jewelry design market. Boasting an easy-to-use 3D interface, the new JewelSpace1 software enables users to output finished designs in IGES, SAT, and STL formats for delivery to customers, for output on rapid prototyping and milling machines, and for display on the Web. Features include a selection of NURBS modeling tools, advanced surfacing features, realistic rendering, and libraries of jewelry design elements. JewelSpace1 can be purchased with Caligari proTeam content and support services for $2000. Annual proTeam renewal fees are $1200.
Caligari Corp.; www.caligari.com
WEB DEVELOPMENTMaya Shockwave enhancedWin
With version 1.1 of Alias|Wavefront's Maya Shockwave 3D Exporter plug-in, users can optimize and export 3D Maya scenes into Macromedia Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio software, while taking advantage of Maya's effects animation capabilities, including dynamics, expressions, and the company's trax nonlinear animation. According to Alias|Wavefront, the exporter checks the Maya scene for compatibility with the Shockwave Player and then suggests scene optimizations that will improve performance. An Export Express feature keeps track of changes and adds to subsequent exports only incremental modifications rather than the entire scene for speedy data conversion. In addition, a Preview window enables users to control the size of the 3D viewport export, interactively control animation, select and control different cameras, and review the Director Scene Manifest, which contains 3D scene structure information of use to Lingo programmers doing final project development in Director. The product is available to all Maya users at no charge and can be downloaded from www.aliaswavefront.com/sw3d.
Alias|Wavefront; www.aliaswavefront.comHARDWAREINPUT/OUTPUTIntuitive tabletWin | irix | solaris
Wacom Technology's Intuos2 graphics tablet system incorporates several technology and hardware improvements. For instance, the cordless, pressure-sensitive Grip Pen is reportedly easier to hold and provides 1024 levels of tip and eraser pressure as well as tilt angle and direction information. A standard feature on 4 by 5 and 6 by 8 active-area tablets, the 2D mouse is cordless and battery-free. Meanwhile, on tablets with 9 by 12, 12 by 12, and 12 by 18 active areas, a 4D mouse provides high-resolution X- and Y-coordinate data, analog data from an auto-centering fingerwheel, and compass-like rotation data when the mouse is turned. Added features include a new digital oversampling technology for acquiring coordinate data that improves data quality over previous tablet technology; and a new menu strip with Web navigation shortcuts. The Intuos2 ranges in price from $220 for a 4 by 5 version bundled with Corel Painter Classic and Wacom's PenTools 3.0.2, to $820 for the 12 by 18 version bundled with Painter Classic and Wacom's Intuos2 4D Mouse Pentools 3.
Wacom Technology Corp.; www.wacom.com
Creating a mirage
According to Christie Digital Systems, its Mirage projection systems are the world's first three-chip DLP projectors to offer bright imagery, color purity, and true digital processing in a stereo output signal. Both the Mirage 5000 and Mirage 2000 offer SXGA resolution, while the Mirage 10000 offers XGA resolution at ultra-high brightness. All support active and passive stereo using proprietary electronics. Prices not available.
Christie Digital Systems; www.christiedigital.comUltra-bright LCDs
According to Solarism Display, its LM1503 15-inch TFT-LCD monitor is built with patented backlight technology known as ABT (Advanced Brightness Technology). This, the company says, provides the non-industrial monitor with such features as 800cd/m2 brightness, a 350:1 contrast ratio, a maximum resolution of 1024 by 768, and a response time ranging from 13 to 27ms. In addition to supporting 16.7 million colors, the monitor comes with S-video and audio input, which enables viewers to connect with DVD, camcorder, or VCR players to view their media. Price not available.
Solarism Display; www.solarism.comMISCELLANEOUSUltra 160 RAID for the MacMAC
LaCie is now shipping its new RAID system, the TX12000, for Mac environments. Able to be attached to virtually any SCSI host computer with no need for special device drivers or software, the TX12000 can achieve transfer rates of up to 75mb/second and a 2ms average access time when configured with LaCie's new 7200rpm 180gb hard drives. Additionally, with support for up to 12 drives, the TX12000 provides a total capacity of up to 2.16tb using the 180GB drives. Half-height SCSI SCA 36GB and 73gb 10,000rpm drives also are available. Price not available.
LaCie; www.lacie.comMOTION CAPTUREMocap for the massesWin
Gypsy Jr., the newest addition to Meta Motion's Gypsy 3 series of motion capture systems, boasts a capture rate of up to 120 frames per second in real time and computer serial port plug-in capability that allows for easy laptop or desktop capture. Starting at less than $10,000, Gypsy Jr. supports multiple actors simultaneously without occlusion or magnetic interference, and is free from magnetic, metallic, and electrical interference.
Meta Motion; www.metamotion.com
Mocap alternativeWin | IRIX
New from DSM Computer, the Nemotion interactive input device provides animators with interactive, real-time control of the parameters in a 3D scene. The device combines an ergonomically designed user control panel with software plug-ins for Discreet's 3ds max and Alias|Wavefront's Maya. Like a puppeteer, the animator can adjust the controls as the animation program plays for easy motion capture. Nemotion is connected via serial interface to the user's computer. If a sound file is assigned in max or Maya, the sound is played as the unit's jog wheel is rotated. Prices are $1490 for the 3ds max (3.1 and 4.0) version and $1990 for the Maya (3.01 and 4.0) version.
DSM Computer; www.nemotion.com