Products - 6/05
Issue: Volume: 28 Issue: 6 (June 2005)

Products - 6/05

Softimage and its parent company, Avid Technology, previewed a native 64-bit version of Softimage XSI during WinHEC, Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, held in Seattle.

WinHEC attendees were among the first to witness a prototype of Softimage XSI 3D animation software for use with 64-bit computing architectures. During the technology preview, Avid imparted the benefits of 64-bit performance over 32-bit computing, such as greater interactivity and faster rendering of complex 3D scenes.

For the demonstration, Softimage worked with large, high-quality imagery in the 64-bit XSI prototype software running on a Dell workstation with 6gb of RAM. In fact, the image above required 3.6 gb of RAM. On an 8 gb Dell system, the company loaded a scene with 500 million polygons, taking up 6.9 gb of RAM.

The 64-bit version of Softimage XSI is designed to streamline such 3D animation processes as modeling, texturing, and rendering. And it does so by taking advantage of the latest 64-bit technologies, including the Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition operating system. -CEH

Apple Computer, in special events held at Apple retail stores and authorized resellers, began selling its latest operating system, Mac OS X Version 10.4.

Called Tiger, Version 10.4 boasts more than 200 new features, including enhanced security. Spotlight, a new desktop search technology, aids users in locating virtually anything stored on their Macs, including images, docu-ments, e-mails, and contacts.

Another utility new to Mac OS X, Dashboard provides instant access to information via widgets, the name given to accessory applications. Accessible with a single click, widgets provide user-selectable information-such as stock quotes, currency conversions, weather forecasts, airline flight tracking, or a phone book-and disappear from the user interface as quickly and easily as they appear. Dashboard, built on such standard Web technologies as HTML and JavaScript, can curently access 14 widgets.

Designed to automate repet-itive tasks, Tiger’s Automator pro-vides users with a library of more than 100 customizable actions that can be dragged and dropped into a simplified, efficient work flow. At the same time, iChat improves collaboration by en-abling audio conferences with up to 10 people and videoconferences involving a maximum of four participants. With support for the new H.264 video codec and QuickTime 7, iChat offers improved picture quality, live video resizing and video streaming, and the ability to create virtual 3D conference rooms.

Additional features include support for 64-bit applications, Core Image and Core Video tools for image and video processing, Xgrid distributed computing, and the Xcode 2 suite of developer tools. An updated open-standards Unix-based foundation and enhanced compatibility with Microsoft Windows round out the upgrade.

Apple’s Mac OS X Version 10.4 is priced at $129 for a single-user license. The OS X Tiger Family Pack provides a single-residence, five-user license for $199. Tiger requires a Macintosh computer with a PowerPC G5, G4, or G3 processor, built-in FireWire, and at least 256mb of memory. -CEH

Adobe Systems has unveiled Adobe Video Collection 2.5 Professional, a software bundle that now includes the latest version of its Photoshop digital image editing and creation software. Photoshop CS2 joins Premiere Pro 1.5, After Effects 6.5, Audition 1.5, and Encore DVD 1.5.

Aiding professionals in the production of broadcast-quality images and effects, Photoshop CS2 brings with it Adobe Bridge for locating and previewing various file types, Vanishing Point that enables cloning and other image editing tasks while maintaining visual perspective, timesaving Smart Objects, and 32-bit HDR color and YUV processing. Running on Windows XP, Adobe Video Collection Professional is priced at $1499. Owners of the previous version can upgrade for $399, and users of the Standard version can upgrade to the latest Professional edition for $799.

Adobe also has announced its agree-ment to license, develop, and distribute Curious Software’s rotoscoping technologies. The company plans to incor-porate technology from Curious Soft-ware’s gFx Pro-such as a paint engine for moving images, a roto-matte system, and wire and rig removal-into future Adobe software releases.

Additionally, the company intends to acquire Macromedia, developer of such popular Web publishing software solutions as Flash, Dreamweaver, Fire-works, FreeHand, Director, ColdFusion, and more. The all-stock transaction, in which shareholders will receive 0.69 shares of Adobe common stock for each share of Macromedia common stock, is valued at roughly $3.4 billion. The combined company will continue to deliver products for the creation, management, and delivery of content, and focus on growth in the mobile and enterprise markets. The acquisition is expected to close in the fall (see “Merger Mania,” pg. 6). -CEH