Products - 12/05
Issue: Volume: 28 Issue: 12 (December 2005)

Products - 12/05

Apple’s benchmarks show the new quad workstations offering considerable performance gains. For example, Adobe’s After Effects on the Power Mac G5 Quad 2.5ghz rendered 3D images up to 69 percent faster than any dual-processor Power Mac G5. Additional benchmarks from the company revealed that NewTek’s LightWave 3D rendering achieved a 59 percent performance boost running on quad processors, while Apple’s Final Cut Pro SD rendering gained a 40 percent performance increase. Apple’s Power Mac G5 Quad 2.5 ghz workstations with PCIe technology are now available. Pricing begins at $3299.

Eovia has introduced Carrara 5 and Carrara 5 Pro, which offer new modeling, animation, and rendering tools for more creative freedom. Both programs sport an updated interface and a new graph editor with direct access to motion curves and animation parameters. Other enhancements include a vertex modeler based on Eovia’s Hexagon software; rendering with subsurface scattering, displacement mapping, and ambient occlusion; and a volumetric clouds addition for realistically scattering atmospheric light. Adobe’s After Effects and SynthEyes’s Matchmover are also supported. Carrara 5 is now available for $249; Cararra 5 Pro, priced at $549, is set to ship this month.

Alienware is dropping the temperature of its desktop computers, notebooks, and workstations with liquid-cooling technology. The company claims the design lowers the noise factor and keeps the systems running 15 to 20 degrees cooler than comparable non-liquid-cooled systems. By eliminating the need for internal fans, the workstations operate at less than 35db, and the company’s cooling design reduces the need for checking or refilling the fluid levels. Liquid cooling is now being offered across Alienware’s complete line of desktop workstations.

Side Effects Software’s Houdini 8 3D modeling and animation software has a new dynamics architecture that allows impact data to create complex effects such as crushing objects or staining surfaces. The rigid-body solver includes a glue feature, making it possible to hold together the pieces of a pre-fractured object until it is broken by an outside force. A new animation work flow has been added, and bones have been optimized for more interactive feedback while posing and animating character rigs. Houdini 8 is currently available for Windows and Linux; pricing ranges from $1299 for Houdini Select to $17,000 for Houdini Master.

Rhythm & Hues Commercial Studios recently created side orders with attitude for the Jack in the Box television spot “Fry Fight.” “Pencil neck. Pigtail. Corkscrew!” are a few of the exchanges between the curly fries and the natural-cut fries during the commercial, which offers customers the opportunity to upgrade to curly fries at no extra charge. “I saw the animated fries sequences as a kind of cooked potato version of West Side Story, with these two groups facing off in a war of words,” explains Michael Wright, who directed the animation for Rhythm & Hues. “Each group is really fighting their corner in the argument. The gloves are off-or should that be the skins are off?” He continues, “What made the spot fun to animate was that the fries really have attitude. I wanted to get down with the fries, into their world, and see them have a war of words, like you would with two people.”