In response to customer requests, Maya 6 incorporates a new Soft Modification utility and offers users the ability not only to apply deformers to particles, but also to use polygon meshes with Maya Paint Effects. Contributing to performance gains, Maya's Smooth Proxy tool is now up to 18 times faster than previous incarnations, whereas Subdivision Surface proxy manipulations are up to eight times faster.
Version 6 features new connectivity with Adobe Photoshop, bi-directional support for Alias StudioTools, a Web browser embedded within the Maya panel, and support for new file formats, including DDS and PNG files. Maya Complete 6, available for Windows, Irix, Linux, and Mac OS X environments, is priced at $1999 for the full version and $899 as an upgrade. Maya Unlimited 6 for Windows, Irix, and Linux includes Maya Complete, Maya Hair, Maya Fluid Effects, Maya Fur, Maya Cloth, and Maya Live at a cost of $6999 for the full version and $1249 for the upgrade. Also available is Maya Bonus Tools, a collection of Maya scripts and plug-ins that include extended character rigging tools and an attribute collection for UI building. —Courtney E. Howard
Softimage has released an upgraded version of its non-linear 3D production environment, Softimage|XSI.
Softimage infused XSI 4.0 with new capabilities, enhanced performance, and increased support to simplify and speed the creation of high-end 3D content. Among these are new advanced biped, quadruped, and hybrid rig systems and a Character SDK for customizing rig creation, animation, and editing. Additionally, its FX Tree compositor takes advantage of Matador technology to deliver new 2D raster- and vector-based, resolution-independent paint tools.
The new Custom Display Host enables the integration of external applications, tools, or custom run-time engines with the Softimage|XSI core, whereas its XML-based UI engine provides centralized per-scene control with configurable interface layouts, scenario-specific Relational Views, and more. Version 4.0 is further improved by BatchServe Web-based processing and rendering queue management, a new graphic synthesizer that ensures fidelity between in-context visual feedback and final output, and the ability to host custom plug-in renderers, views, and display engines via the XSI RenderCore plug-in.
Softimage has made XSI available in three configurations: XSI Advanced, XSI Essentials, and the entry-level XSI Foundations. Version 4.0 of Softimage|XSI Advanced, Essentials, and Foundations are priced at $8995, $3995, and $1995, respectively. Designed for users of Version 4.0, the new Softimage Production Series of DVD training materials centers on real-world production situations and is available via the company's Web site. —CEH
ViewSonic has upgraded its popular high-end, digital LCD, the VP2290b. Well suited to the entertainment, gaming, and graphic arts communities, the upgraded monitor is designed to display high-quality, realistic graphics and images without image artifacts.
The new ViewSonic VP2290b-3 is a wide-screen, flat-panel display sporting a 22-inch, 9.2-megapixel TFT LCD. The new display is capable of a 3840x2400 maximum resolution and a pixel density of up to 204 pixels per inch. The VP2290b-3's 48hz refresh rate and 400:1 contrast ratio ensure high image definition with no pixel jitter. Film and photographic editors are among the users expected to benefit from the LCD's ability to display images with enhanced detail and color management. The VP2290b-3 is perfectly flat, eliminating image distortion and ambient light reflection, and is compatible with IBM PC and Macintosh systems, as well as high-performance scanners, cameras, and digitizers. —CEH
Sony has announced the latest version of its professional non-linear editing application, Vegas. Vegas 5 boasts such upgraded features as 3D track motion and compositing, keyframable Bezier masks, network rendering, and transition progress envelopes. The new version also adds the ability to import Flash SWF files, export subtitles/text to DVD Architect software, and support ACID software loop properties and external Sony hardware devices. Customizable interfaces and keyboard mapping, media subclips, and real-time A/V event reverse round out Sony Vegas 5. Vegas 5 and the Vegas+DVD Production Suite are now available and priced at $700 and $1000, respectively. Both offerings ship with a stand-alone version of Boris Graffiti 3.0 LTD and Red Giant Software's Magic Bullet Movie Looks plug-in. —CEH
Imagineer Systems has unveiled its newest offering for broadcast, film, and video postproduction: Monet. The unique technology behind Monet was developed in conjunction with Cinesite for use on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Monet enables users to insert moving and still images into DV, SD, HD, and film footage. Contributing to significant time-savings, Monet offers tools for performing such complex tasks as logo replacements, product packaging alterations, and product placement in moving footage. Monet includes tools for 2D plane tracking for motion estimation, manual augmentation of tracking data, aspect ratio conversion, per-pixel motion blur application, color highlight extraction, grain handling, and analysis of lens distortion, scene lighting condition, and intensity change.
Imagineer Systems anticipates shipping Monet by the end of the month in a workstation configuration. It will come complete with an Accelera software acceleration card from Aspex Technology and support for video I/O cards. —CEH