Nvidia also has previewed its Quadro FX 4000 SDI, an innovative graphics card that combines graphics and video functionality. Scheduled to ship in late summer, the new card is capable of not only outputting two streams of video, but also syncing digital and analog video streams. —Courtney E. Howard
RTzen made its official debut during the Game Develop-ers Conference (GDC) in San Jose, California. Based in Bellevue, Washington, the company was founded by digital content experts to develop products and technology that empower 3D artists and fuel artistic creativity. All of RTzen's founders—including industry luminaries Jeremy Hubbell, Michael Pittman, and Yoichiro Hibino and 3D veterans Rolf Berteig and Michael Malone—boast more than 10 years experience in the design and management of 3D graphic software solutions, incuding Discreet's 3ds max and 3D Studio Viz.
Its first entry in the digital content market, RT/shader is reportedly the industry's first visual shader authoring tool capable of generating high-level shading language code automatically and in real time. RT/shader was designed with a user-friendly GUI, enabling more 3D graphic artists to add increased realism and higher quality to digital content through the use of shaders. RT/shader is available at a cost of $1995 from RTzen and Turbo Squid. —CEH
BioGraphic Technologies has released Version 2.0 of its artificial-intelligence software for game development, AI.implant for Games. According to the company, this upgrade is the result of two years of working closely with customers, such as Midway Games and Snowcode.
AI.implant 2.0 includes such new features as navigation mesh-based pathfinding, which enhances run-time performance and navigation, and a motion planner to aid in dynamic obstacle avoidance. The company also has rewritten Arena, a multi-platform viewer for game AI. Using Arena, users can preview how their AI runs on Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox, and PC platforms without exporting to the game engine. The AI.DE AI development editor enables the authoring and editing of AI files in an IDE-style environment, whereas the Brainsuck feature speeds testing and debugging. Version 2.0 is shipping this month for PlayStation 2, Xbox, Windows, and Linux. —CEH
Kaydara has upgraded its real-time 3D character animation software to Version 5.5. MotionBuilder 5.5 Professional adds support for Python Scripting and CgFX shaders, translating to significant time-savings.
Support for the Python Scripting interactive, object-oriented programming language not only improves MotionBuilder's integration with game studios' production pipelines, but also enables users to automate repetitive tasks. With support for CgFX shaders and Nvidia's Cg shading language, game developers can import and customize shaders to create various effects.
MotionBuilder 5.5 Professional, complete with 12 months of support, is priced at $4195. An upgrade to Version 5.5 is free to existing users of MotionBuilder 5.0 Professional and Standard. MotionBuilder is compatible with Windows 2000 and XP, and Mac OS 10.2 and higher.
Kaydara also has launched HumanIK|Middleware, its first middleware offering for game developers. HumanIK|Middleware enables game developers to embed in their game engine the same character animation and rigging technology found in MotionBuilder software. With their run-time engine and animation tool equipped with the same character behavior, users are said to reap improved image quality, flexibility, and productivity.
HumanIK|Middleware boasts seamless integration with MotionBuilder, thanks to Kaydara's FBX file interchange format for 3D data. Moreover, users are able to previsualize character behavior in MotionBuilder, enabling both accurate previewing and efficient character adjustments during the game-development process. Other HumanIK|Middleware features include a Biped/Quadruped template for de-fining characters independent of bone structure and motion banks for reusing animations on different characters, regardless of their structure, size, and shape. —CEH
With its public debut of VelocityHD at NAB2004, Leitch has taken the power of its popular Velocity editing solutions to the high-definition video market.
A format-flexible non-linear editing system, VelocityHD is designed to make HD video editing as efficient and easy as standard-definition (SD) editing. In fact, VelocityHD is well suited to both HD and SD video editing.
Targeted at postproduction professionals, Leitch's new product incorporates the company's own Integrated Content Environment and enables multi-camera editing, real-time color correction thanks to various manual and automated tools, and previewing via its EyeCon View timeline interface utility. Whereas its Interactive Editing paradigm permits the editing and the use of effects without stopping timeline playback, its Virtual Tape File System assists with interchanging files between video and popular graphics formats. Customizable hotkeys, window layouts, and timeline styles round out Leitch's new offering.
At the heart of VelocityHD is Altitude hardware, which enables full-quality, on-line playback of two HD video streams, two dynamic HD graphics streams, and dual-stream, real-time HD transitions and effects. Altitude supports 1080i, 1080PsF, and 720p frame formats at common frame rates, in addition to SMPTE-292 HD-SDI I/O and VGA HD output. Altitude offers compressed and uncompressed (8- and 10-bit) recording and playback, as well as the ability to mix compressed and uncompressed footage within a single project.
Scheduled for an August release, VelocityHD will be offered as a turnkey system or a hardware/software bundle for qualified Microsoft Windows XP Professional workstations. —CEH