Pro/E customization tool
Win With Rand Worldwide's Automation Gateway Version 3.0 programming software, Pro/Engineer users can directly integrate other applications to create custom interfaces and automate either individual tasks or an entire design process. For instance, say a user wants a new version of an existing design and sends the manufacturer the new dimensions in an Excel spreadsheet. With Automation Gateway, the user can link the spreadsheet with the design, and Pro/Engineer will automatically create the customized model. The software also enables users to automate repetitive tasks as well as select and configure their own design models to meet different sales, marketing, and other business needs. Price not available.
Rand Worldwide; www.rand.com
Win Geomate Corp. is offering SketchCalc software that allows Autodesk Inventor users to calculate important section properties of an active sketch with.the click of a mouse. SketchCalc can be launched from within Inventor to simultaneously calculate essential properties of an active sketch, or it can be used in standalone mode to read in profiles created in any DXF-compliant CAD software. The price is $195.
Geomate Corp; www.sketchcalc.com
Adobe improves InDesign
Win | MAC Version 2.0 of Adobe's InDesign professional layout and design program introduces editable transparency effects such as drop shadows, table creation, long-document support, and an enhanced printing interface. The new version also supports Adobe's XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform) technology, an XML-based framework for embedding, tracking, and exchanging metadata so that content can be deployed more efficiently across different media. The price is $699.
Adobe Systems; www.adobe.com
Automated graphics processor
MAC Equilibrium's DeBabelizer Pro 5 is now available for Mac OS X, enabling users to take advantage of the speed of Apple's next-generation operating system to quickly process, optimize, and convert still images and QuickTime movies for delivery in virtually any medium. The software also automates repetitive editing, optimization, and file translation tasks, and it utilizes the company's SuperPalette technology, enabling users to create an optimized color palette for a series of images automatically. Price is $469.
Digital Asset Management
Win | MAC Version 5.5 of Cumulus, Canto's digital asset management software, provides a new pallet view that allows images to be viewed simultaneously in Cumulus and in other applications such as QuarkXPress or Adobe Systems' Photoshop. Other new features include the ability to write IPTC data back to the original file and a server/client asset transfer capability that lets users access assets via already existing TCP/IP connections. Price not available.
MODELING AND ANIMATION
Psunami for Softimage|XSI
Phoenix Tools and Arete Entertainment are porting Arete's Psunami plug-in to Softimage|XSI Version 2.0. The Psunami plug-in is designed to produce photorealistic water and will include tools for simulating and visualizing many types of water surfaces, such as oceans and rivers; as well various kinds of disturbances such as circular waves and curvilinear wakes. Price is unavailable.
Arete Entertainment; www.areteis.com
Win | UNIX Boujou is a fully automated camera calibration aid tracking system, able to derive complex camera tracks and calibration data from film or video for matching 2D and 3D movement in feature films, industrial design applications, and architectural visualization. The software tracks hundreds of features in each frame and uses statistical analysis to retain only the most accurate tracks. The price is $10,000.
Win Some of the improvements Digital Element has added to Version 3.1 of its WorldBuilder 3D modeling, animation, and rendering package for creating landscapes and scenery include accelerated viewports, the ability to adjust the transparency of an area material so that the underlying material can be seen, and improved antialiasing. In addition, users can now lock the shadow view on an object or group of objects and the software will automatically fit the object if either the light source or the object is animated. Improvements to leaves, volumetric light, parallel and point light shadows, and areas on 3D meshes, rivers, and grass are also part of this release, which includes 3D animated tutorials as well as Poser-Pro pack Communicator support. Version 3.1 is a free upgrade to users who already own Version 3.0x, which sells for $399 (Standard version) and $999 (Professional version).
Digital Element; www.digi-element.com
Creating interactive 3D visuals
Win Targeted at the live 3D visuals and music markets, Derivative's Touch 007 provides a trio of tools for creating real-time animations as well as interfacing visuals with music using features such as on-screen beat cues, MIDI controls, and native support for MP3 music tracks. The first tool, TouchDesigner, is a content-editing tool for the creation of synthesized artwork. Using a procedural node-based architecture, artists can model, texture, and light objects in 3D; create characters, motions, and beat-matched behaviors; and build control panels that are wired up to any part of their 3D scenes. The second tool, TouchPlayer, is the 3D player and image synthesizer for playing the TouchDesigner output. And the third tool, TouchMixer, enables users to capture their MIDI and mouse gestures into recorded sequences, edit multiple sequences into QuickTime movies, and customize downloaded artwork with new textures and movies. TouchDesigner sells for $1995, TouchMixer costs $199, and TouchPlayer is free.
Titles and effects for Avid
Win Designed for use with Avid's Symphony, Media Composer, Avid Xpress, and Avid Xpress DV systems is Inscriber Technology Corp.'s new Inscriber TitleMotion AVX. The new product includes more than 200 pre-designed templates, more than 50 animation templates, more than 200 new text styles, a blur filter, a spell checker, and text-on-path capability, thereby expediting the process of creating video titles and motion effects. Specific features include lower-thirds, rolls, crawls, antialiased text, soft-edge shadows, drawing tools, background import, and a keyframe-based animation component for adding motion to titles. TitleMotion also enables editors to animate each character of a title independently. Retail price is $595.
Inscriber Technology Corp.; www.inscriber.com
Win Act-3D's new Quest3D version 1.0 is a multimedia-authoring product for creating real-time interactive 3D productions. According to the company, the application is based on a unique channel technology that divides a production into components, which are displayed on the user's screen graphically and can be connected via drag-and-drop. Ready-made templates of connected channel groups are included. The resulting production can be viewed full-screen, or it can be integrated within a web page or in presentation software. Retail price is $249.
3D export to Flash
Win | MAC Electric Rain's Swift 3D version 2.0 is a stand-alone application that enables users to design and render 3D scenes to the Macromedia Flash (SWF) file format, as well as to Adobe Illustrator (AI), EPS, and the XML-based SVG formats. Features include extrusion and lathe editors, extended primitive selection, automated timeline scaling, non-uniform scaling and numerical positioning of objects, and the ability to animate materials. Meanwhile, rendering capabilities include two-, four-, and full-color cartoon fills, shadow rendering, specular highlights, line weight, color, and detail settings, and a previewing system to view and edit rendered scenes before writing a file. In addition, this version reportedly renders up to 50 times faster than its predecessor while handling 250,000+ polygon models. The software sells for $159.
Electric Rain Inc.; www.erain.com, www.swift3d.com
High-end projection system
The Odyssey, from Barco Simulation Products, is a multi-channel blended projection display system designed for high-end, stereoscopic collaborative visualization. Utilizing the 180MHz-bandwidth Barco Reality 908 projectors as its display engine, the transportable Odyssey will display resolutions up to 3200x2560 in monoscopic mode and up to 1600x1200 in stereo mode. List price for a two-channel, stereo, blended system, including installation and alignment, is $149,500.
Barco Simulation Products; www.barco.com
Volumetric 3D display
Dimensional Media Associates has developed a new volumetric display system that can show 3D images in a variety of formats: as solid shaded images, translucent images in which interior features are visible through exterior features; and wireframe images. What's more, the images can be viewed without any peripherals, such as glasses or headgear. Targeted at applications including CAD/engineering, the new DepthCube 3D Display consists of two main components: a high-speed video projector and a multi-planar optical element. The projector projects a sequence of slices of the 3D image onto the optical element projection element, where each slice is halted at the proper depth. Proprietary hardware algorithms smooth the appearance of the resultant stack of image slices to produce a 3D image with real depth and perspective. Price not available.
Dimensional Media Associates; www.3dmedia.com
Using discrete hand and finger movements, the P5 glove-like controller from Essential Reality allows full-motion control of images, game action, on-screen characters, and 3D graphics. According to the company, P5 provides gamers with an ergonomically designed device that controls the action in 3D game software through diverse hand gestures. For instance, when the user pulls his trigger finger in 3D space, the on-screen gun shoots in real time. When he flicks his fingers away, a game character is thrown against the wall. The USB-compliant device is compatible with Macs, PCs, and next-generation gaming systems, including the PS2 and Xbox. Price not available.
Essential Reality; www.essentialreality.com
Color-accurate flat panel
According to Hitachi America, the proprietary S-IPS technology it has incorporated into its new 18-inch flat panel display enables crisp text, true colors, and sharp, distortion-free images at viewing angles of 170 degrees, both horizontally and vertically. The CML181 display also features a 300:1 typical contrast ratio with a maximum resolution of 1280 by 1024 at 60- or 75Hz for analog and 60Hz for digital. The PC- and Mac-compatible display sells for $999.
Hitachi America; www.hitachidisplays.com