3D Animation Software
Issue: Volume: 27 Issue: 12 (December 2004)

3D Animation Software

The latest news surrounding Alias's Maya involves a new agreement with BOXX Technologies whereby Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited software are bundled with Boxx professional workstations. Alias also recently introduced Maya Unlimited for the Mac OS X operating system. Now available and priced at $6999, Maya Unlimited combines Maya Complete software with Maya Hair, Maya Fluid Effects, Maya Fur, Maya Cloth, and Maya Live for advanced special effects. Moreover, the company has launched the Maya Membership family—Maya Platinum, Maya Silver, and Maya Bronze Memberships—of programs to provide support, maintenance, and education to Maya and Maya Personal Learning Edition customers.
Alias; www.alias.com

NewTek has announced its intention to port its Emmy Award-winning LightWave 3D application, now in Version 8, to the Intel EM64T and AMD64 platforms. With this news, NewTek becomes the first company to publicly reveal its plans to port a professional 3D graphics application to the 64-bit format. The 64-bit version of LightWave will reap the benefits of 64-bit technology, including increases in both processing power and memory. For the production of complex motion graphics and visual effects, this higher-performance version of LightWave will benefit users with time-savings, increased efficiency, and higher-quality graphics. The 64-bit edition of LightWave 3D will become available when the 64-bit Windows operating system is released commercially.
NewTek; www.newtek.com

Discreet has begun shipping Version 7 of its 3ds max professional 3D modeling, animation, and rendering software package. Version 7 benefits not only from an update to Mental Images' Mental Ray Version 3.3, but also from the full integration of the company's own Character Studio advanced character motion tool set. Helping streamline film production, Version 7 also incorporates normal mapping, a technology designed for game development in which detail is added to low-polygon models with high-resolution maps. 3ds max 7 is priced at $3495. Upgrades from Versions 5 and 6 are priced at $1295 and $795, respectively. In other news, Discreet revealed that 3ds max enjoys an installed base of more than 280,000 registered customers, including 3D artists and designers in film, television, games, and visualization. Turn to pg. 44 for a review.
Discreet; www.discreet.com

Maxon Computer has unveiled the ninth incarnation of its Cinema 4D software solution. Release 9 offers a re-engineered modeling core, new modeling tools, an enhanced user interface, and more than 100 new features. For specifics about Cinema 4D Release 9, turn to Spotlight on Products, pg. 5.
Maxon Computer; www.maxon.net

Eovia has introduced an upgraded version of its Carrara 3D animation, modeling, and rendering application. Version 4 is available now in Standard and Professional versions, priced at $579 and $279, respectively. Carrara Version 4 is described in detail within this month's Spotlight on Products section, pg. 4.
Eovia; www.eovia.com

Softimage's new pricing structure for all versions of its XSI 4.0—Foundation for $495, Essentials for $1995, and Advanced for $6995—continues to be a topic of conversation among industry professionals. Yet, Softimage has been extending XSI functionality through key partnerships. The company has announced a strategic alliance agreement with Criterion Software, a provider of middleware for the gaming industry, that offers Criterion RenderWare users access to plug-ins and import/export tools that enable the integration of 3D content created in XSI. Also, Softimage has entered into a technology alliance with Virtools, maker of interactive 3D authoring tools. As a result, characters, scenes, objects, and animations created with XSI software can be exported directly into the Virtools Dev 3 environment, thanks to a new Virtools exporter for XSI software.
Softimage; www.softimage.com

Caligari has announced TrueSpace 6.6, with roughly 24 general enhancements and more than 120 fixes to various tools and functionality. UV editing is improved by UV vertex welding, whereas the built-in particle system now provides interaction with TrueSpace physics, environments, and objects and control over life and particle type. Particles also have real geometry, enabling them to reflect and cast shadows. A new Viewer frees users to preview scenes and objects in Windows Explorer. And Version 6.6 boasts performance gains: Real-time preview of an animation is reportedly 300 times faster.
Caligari; www.caligari.com

Electric Rain has introduced Mac OS X versions of its recently upgraded Swift 3D 4.0 stand-alone application and Swift 3D Xpress plug-in. Swift 3D Version 4.0 aids designers in creating and exporting vector and raster 3D animations to Macromedia Flash or another format, whereas Swift 3D Xpress enables users to convert 2D art and text to 3D animations within Flash. Currently available for Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, Swift 3D and Swift 3D Xpress are priced at $189 and $129, respectively.
Electric Rain; www.erain.com

Designed for advanced and beginner animators and priced at $299, Animation:Master from Hash is newly available in Version 11.0 for the Windows platform and Version 10.5 for Mac OS X and 9. The program offers spline-based modeling, animation, and rendering, as well as IK, UV decal mapping, lipsync keyframing, motion libraries, and skeletal, morphing, and bending actions. It also provides channel-based motion control, patch-based animation, rotoscoping, onion skinning, and other features.
Hash; www.hash.com

3D Character Animation Software

Having acquired Kaydara, Alias has unveiled MotionBuilder 6, an upgraded version of its character animation software. Alias MotionBuilder 6 incorporates hundreds of enhancements, including improvements to keyframe animation and character animation capabilities, the story timeline, inter-character rigs, scene management tools, and a simplified user interface. MotionBuilder 6 Standard is priced at $995, whereas the Pro version includes 12 months of support and upgrades at a cost of $4195.
Alias; www.alias.com

Curious Labs has released its Poser 5 figure design and animation solution for the Mac OS X operating system. The OS X version of Poser 5 sports displacement mapping, collision detection, procedural textures, photo-based facial mapping, new 3D human figures, Dynamic Hair, Dynamic Cloth, and a Morph Putty tool. The company also introduced Shade 7, a 3D graphics suite for designers, illustrators, and architects that encompasses modeling, rendering, and animation tools. For the creation of 3D imagery and animations, Shade offers bezier curve/ surface modeling, integrated plug-ins, and a global illumination renderer. Shade 7 is available in Standard, Designer LE, and Professional versions.
Curious Labs; www.curiouslabs.com

Side Effects Software has upgraded its Houdini 3D animation package to Version 7, as well as introduced Houdini Escape, a new product designed to work seamlessly with the Houdini family of software. For animators, lighting artists, and effects artists, Houdini 7 is intended to streamline the animation work flow with the help of such enhancements as interactive viewing, improved transform handles, and a new online help interface. Also new to Version 7 are expanded support for RenderMan and advanced character rigging tools. Houdini Escape, priced at $1999, provides professionals an environment for modeling, animating, texturing, lighting, and rendering. The company also announced that its Houdini Developers Kit (HDK) is free with all Houdini workstation products, including the Houdini Apprentice Edition.
Side Effects Software; www.sidefx.com