Win With Squiggle 4.0, designers can create from CAD programs images that look hand drawn. Users can vary the width and/or color of up to 255 lines/pens and then apply an unlimited number of hand-drawn styles to each line. A choice of seven preset styles-ranging from "carefully sketched with a drafting pen" to "scribbled on the back of a napkin"-are available, along with an unlimited number of custom styles. Different Squiggle styles also can be combined in one image. Squiggle works with CAD images that are in .DWG, .DXF, and .PLT file formats. Squiggled drawings can be sent to any Windows system printer or exported as a bitmap file for import into other applications. The software sells for $139.
Insight Development Corp.; www.insightdev.com
More than 200 customer-driven enhancements highlight the new release of SolidDesigner 2001. For instance, with the Rapid Design feature, designers and engineers can work directly with native and imported 3D design data, using drag-and-drop interaction techniques to create, modify, and position 3D models and designs. The new Mold Design Advisor, meanwhile, enables users to optimize plastic parts for injection molding by providing a predefined feature library, rules-based advice, and automated core and cavity creation. And, with the new SolidDesigner Access tool, companies can share all 3D geometric and non-geometric information across the enterprise by leveraging, viewing, and measuring 3D design precisely. Price not available.
CoCreate Software; www.cocreate.com
Go with the flow
Win | UNIX | LINUX Airpak is a computational fluid dynamics tool that enables users to accurately model air flow, heat transfer, contaminant transport, and thermal comfort in ventilation systems as well as external building flows. The latest version, 2.0, exports animation in MPEG, AVI, animated GIF, or FLI file formats and includes a new zero-equation indoor turbulence model as well as new diffuser macros for modeling air inlet diffusers with simplified boundary conditions that capture the diffuser performance. Users also now can quickly compute solar loading boundary conditions on various Airpak objects, accounting for day, time, geographical location, and surface orientation. Annual license fees start at $27,000.
Win IronCAD v4.2 incorporates numerous enhancements for 3D modeling and 2D drawing, plus more than 150 quality improvements. For instance, users can now directly import IGES wireframe data for use as reference geometry during model creation. In addition, the software, which sells for $3495, boasts new 3D modeling functionality for sweeping and advanced curve creation, as well as at least a 10x performance improvement for drawing view creation from large assemblies. Furthermore, a new configuration module enables users to work in a selectable configuration that updates as changes are made. The price is not available.
With Geomate 4.5, users can specify performance results such as area, moment of inertia, volume, cost, position, weight, clearance, distance, tolerance, stress, and deflection as behavioral goals, and have the computer build the optimal geometry automatically. Users can perform top-down design, validate design performance up front, develop innovative mechanisms, and check for tolerances earlier, while conflicts are easier to detect. The software can be used on its own, or with such popular CAD and solid modeling packages as Autodesk Inventor, Mechanical Desktop, SolidWorks, SolidEdge, Pro/E, I-deas, and Catia. Per-user price is $2995.
GeoMate Corp.; www.behaviormodeling.com
CopyCAD is a reverse engineering system that incorporates a range of new tools designed to help users produce smooth CAD surfaces from digitized data that can then be used in a range of product development applications. For instance, new sculpting tools enable users to interact directly with their models and smooth problem areas quickly and easily. In addition, a new option enables users to add intermediate points to sparse data, facilitating the process of generating surfaces with a high degree of curvature. To simplify the reverse engineering process, the software also includes a new feature recognition function that suggests suitable positions for the user to create surface edges or construction lines. Price not available.
Win | MAC Designed for use with Adobe's After Effects and with other applications that support After Effects plug-ins, Elements of Anarchy: Text is a three-filter plug-in set that enables users to create text elements for film and television design. Based on particle systems, the filters allow text to be displayed randomly and without the need for keyframes. The software, which works with any TrueType or PostScript Type 1 font, sells for $79.
Digital Anarchy; www.digitalanarchy.com
Shake it up
Win | LINUX | IRiX A professional compositing tool, Shake Version 2.4 boasts several new features and enhancements. The new procedural, vector-based paint node enables users to paint in-context on the same screen where the composite is being created, eliminating the need to switch programs or modules. New rotoscoping features include multiple masks per node, non-uniform and motion-based blur settings, and parenting attributes. Plus, the software's enhanced color correction node simplifies color manipulation and control, and enables users to correct just the highlights, midtones, and shadows in an image as well as manipulate specific curves for red, green, and blue. The resolution-independent program also is easier to use, with automatic mask creation, improved undo/redo, and node disk caching. Shake 2.4 sells for $9900.
Nothing Real; www.nothingreal.com
MODELING AND ANIMATION
VocalTrack, DreamTeam's automated voice recognition module for its Typhoon software, supports nine facial expressions in real time, can recognize both male and female voices, and is speaker-independent. The system works with all known languages and can even recognize cartoon-like voice input. The software, which requires no calibration, also has a high refresh rate, so the results can be used live or be recorded for post-production rendering. Price not available.
Win | IRIX 2D animators can export their projects to the Web with Animo 4.0, which now features Macromedia Flash output capability. Users still retain independent control of painted regions, and they can control the color, width, and generation of ink lines. Special controls such as disabling filter nodes and disabling animation of any bitmap image also are available to reduce the size of the Flash files. Other new features in Animo 4.0 include VectorEditor, a module for editing vectorized drawings; off-peg scanning; TWAIN scanning; color line scanning; and lip-syncing capability in the software's SoundBreakdown module. Pricing starts at $5530.
Cambridge Animation Systems; www.cambridgeanimation.com
Win | MAC Now shipping, version 6.0 of the Boris FX visual effects and image processing application has been enhanced with auto-animated filters including Clouds, Fire, Rain, Snow, Comets, Sparks, and Stars as well as lighting filters that provide simulated extrusions, bump maps, and gel and matte effects with user-defined shapes. In addition, compositing tools include 27 Apply modes for each image layer, motion blur, displacement maps, and a Smart View feature that dynamically updates views of animated parameters in the timeline. Furthermore, timeline waveform display and level controls enable easier audio reference and synchronization during effects design. The software sells for $495 and supports products from Adobe, Apple, Canopus, DPS, Fast, IMC, in-sync, Ulead, and United Media Online. A Professional version that adds support for systems from Avid, Discreet, Media 100, Panasonic, and Sony sells for $995.
Win | MAC Targeted at animators, 3D artists, and graphic designers, Dosch Textures: Animated Water ($69) provides 25 animated and loopable water textures, including ocean, swimming pool, river, waterfall, and calm and stormy as well as deep and shallow waters. Three new 3D object CDs-Dosch 3D: Logo-Animation, Surrounding Skies, and Industrial Objects-include logo animations for broadcast and presentation, more than 50 panorama skies at 8000 by 2000 pixels, and tools, screws, machines, and other equipment, respectively, and sell for $99 each. Meanwhile, a trio of movie clip CDs-Dosch Movie Clips: Special Effects, Light Effects, and Pyrotechnics-offer visual effects, lens flares and moving lights, and fire, explosions, and smoke images, respectively, and sell for $99 each. Finally, Dosch Music: Trailer Music & Sounds contains more than 150 music and sound effects and sells for $79.
Dosch Design; www.doschdesign.com/e_start
Easy 2D animation
Win With FlipBook SE, 2D animators can scan or shoot their drawings under a camera, or digitally draw them using the program's built-in light-table feature. As the drawings are captured, they're automatically positioned in a traditional-style exposure for immediate playback. Then, while the scene is playing, animators can experiment with timing changes by editing the exposure sheet. Animators also can ink and paint their animation before it's output to video or posted on the Web. The software sells for $499.
Causing a tremor
Win | LINUX Tremor is a non-linear compositing system featuring real-time I/O in 601 and HDTV formats. Compatible with Nothing Real's Shake, Tremor also features timeline and EDL support and ships with two industry-standard keyers, Keylight from the Computer Film Company and Primatte from Photron. A custom version of CakeS, the asset tracking system from Unique ID Software Ltd., also is included. Added features include a suite of color correction tools; tracking, stabilization, and matchmoving tools; a vector-based procedural paint node; and distributed rendering capability.
Price not available.
Nothing Real; www.nothingreal.com
Easier procedural mapping
Win Mapping inside Discreet's 3ds max is now easier, with Flatten. The tool exists as a set of object modifiers that work with existing mapping channels to unwrap a model and then collapse the channels down to a single map. Flatten works with all procedural map types and can create seamless bitmaps out of complex, layered procedural materials. Users can then reapply the new bitmaps to their models and render them. The materials also can be converted and sent to any other 3D application or runtime engine. Flatten sells for $149.
Fooling with Mother Nature
Win Chief among the new features in the Vue d'Esprit 4 (Vue 4) 3D scenery animation and rendering software are a new volumetric atmosphere system for creating volumetric clouds, materials, and lights; and a new terrain editor featuring a random rock generator and the ability to develop symmetrical terrain. Users also can make lens flares and stellar objects, and create realistic trees and plants with the software, which imports static Curious Labs Poser scenes and Caligari trueSpace files and outputs MPEG1, MPEG2, QuickTime, RealMovie, QuickTime VR, PICT, and TIFF import/export filters, among others. The two-CD set includes 30 trees and plants, more than 100 atmospheres, 100 types of clouds, 300 materials, 250 textured 3D objects, and more than 50 example scenes and sells for $199. A Mac OS X version was under development at press time.
e-on software; www.e-onsoftware.com
Stereo rendering plug-in
Win Now users of 3ds max and 3D studio viz R3 can render their creations in stereoscopic 3D. The new StereoVue-3ds plug-in allows the creation of two virtual cameras to create the left- and right-eye images required for stereo views. These images are then rendered in a virtual frame buffer window. The plug-in allows full control of the Zero Parallax setting, enabling control over how much of the scene appears out of the screen. At the same time, it features a built-in Parallax Checker to ensure that the parallax stays within a preferred range. The plug-in supports stereoscopic viewing of rendered images in all stereo formats supported by StereoGraphics' Stereo3D visualization products. The price is $129.
Sports broadcasting tools
Win viz [arena] is targeted at sports program producers who want to improve their on-air look with dynamic, perspective-correct, field-of-play graphics including virtual advertising, game analysis, and graphics insertion. Sport-specific plug-ins are available for major sporting events, including soccer, golf, and skiing. Meanwhile, the new viz [video engine] merges vizrt graphics creation with an internal digital disk recorder to deliver post and real-time graphics on the same PC platform. And, viz [iforce] is a new MPEG graphics system that enables users to create content for broadcast and Internet delivery with the same authoring tool. Prices not available.
Suite video production
Win MainActor is a fully integrated suite of applications ranging from video capture and sequencing to editing, playback, and output. Targeted at professional videographers, the software features video and audio filters, a built-in morphing module, and 2D/3D titling and includes DV, MPEG, and Motion JPEG codecs for fast rendering. Compatible with a variety of video hardware, including 1394/FireWire/i.LINK cards, the software imports and exports AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, QuickTime, and Motion JPEG, and exports RealVideo and ASF streaming video.
60-inch projection system
The 60-inch Holo AirSho System provides an innovative way to display graphics and data to large audiences. The system features a high-lumen (1700-2200), single-lens Hitachi projector with 35-degree keystone adjustment capability, so the projector can be installed on the ceiling or the floor. It also features a transparent screen built of a photopolymer material that enables refracted light from the projector at a pitch between 1/30 to 1/5 that of a human hair. The precise configuration of the screen polarizes incident light falling on all areas of the screen to ensure high image quality from any viewing angle. Hitachi has partnered with ProScreen for manufacturing and distribution of the Holo AirSho System. Price not available.
Hitachi America; www.hitachi.com
Key characteristics of the T540 flat-panel monitor include a 15-inch viewable image size, a flicker-free 1024 by 768 resolution, a tilt stand, and an analog interface. Delivering a 17-inch viewable size, the T750 flat-panel monitor boasts 1280 by 1024 resolution, a tilt swivel stand, and dual connectors that provide a choice of analog and/or digital attachment. Slightly larger at 20.8 inches, the T210 flat-panel monitor offers 2048 by 536 resolution, Picture-in-Picture capability allowing TV input, a tilt/swivel and lift stand, and dual input capability. A fourth monitor-the 15-inch T54T-boasts a color touch screen that senses electrical signals to determine the presence and location of the user's finger as it makes contact with the screen surface. Prices are $599 (T540), $1269 (T750), $5929 (T210), and $1399 (T54T).
Measuring only 2.5 inches thick and 7.2 inches at the base, the new 17-inch SyncMaster 760vTFT monitor incorporates such features as a 400:1 contrast ratio, a brightness of 250 cd/m<, and Sun and SGI compatibility. A 15-inch version, the 570vTFT, also is available. Both offer USB capability via an optional USB hub. The 760vTFT sells for $849; the 570vTFT, $449.
The new 16-inch FlexScan L461 flat-panel display provides 1280 by 1024 resolution, a .248mm pitch, and user control over hue, saturation, and gain. A 160-degree horizontal viewing angle and DVI-I analog or digital video input round out the list of features in the $969 product.
Eizo Nanao Technologies; www.eizo.com
Storage and editing
Users can edit and incrementally update their data using DataLifePlus 4.7GB rewritable DVD disks. Designed for use with DVD-RW drives from Pioneer and other manufacturers, the new discs incorporate Super-Eutectic phase-change recording layer technology, which reportedly ensures that repeated recording and playback will not cause deterioration in picture or sound quality. A single disk can store 4700 full-color photos, two hours of theater-quality video, 14+ hours of MP3-compressed audio files, or more than 400,000 documents. The MSRP is $30 for single-sided 4.7GB disks.
Verbatim Corp.; www.verbatim.com