Product Spotlight - 3/06
Issue: Volume: 29 Issue: 3 (March 2006)

Product Spotlight - 3/06

RealViz has introduced VTour, new content-creation software based on the company’s Stitcher and ImageModeler programs for the creation of photorealistic 3D environments from 2D pictures or panoramas. Using digital photos or 360-degree panoramas, VTour can be used to create 3D rooms, buildings, streets, and environments with polygonal photo-textured primitives. The results can be exported or published as a 3D movie or interactive application for use with 3D viewers such as Macromedia Shockwave Player or Virtools Web Player. VTour can be used to create virtual walk-throughs inside buildings, or for urban planning, video games, and virtual sets for film and television. The program runs under Windows and is priced at $580. A Mac-based version is slated for release this summer.

Alienware’s new MJ-12 7500i and MJ-12 7500a workstations for creative professionals feature Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI X16-based motherboards with two full-bandwidth 16-lane PCI Express slots for optimized and scalable performance. Both the Intel-based MJ-12 7500i and the MJ-12 7500a workstations are offered with Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 graphics cards and hard drives in RAID 0 and 1 configurations for up to 2tb of data storage. The company’s optional Liquid Cooling technology reduces noise and allows for cooler operation of the workstations. Pricing for the MJ-12 series of workstations starts at $1599.

E-on Software’s Vue 5 XStream for Windows 2000/XP is a suite of plug-ins that integrate 3D projects created using 3ds Max and Maya in Vue environments. With the plug-ins, Vue 5 Infinite environments are matched with Max or Maya scenery in one render pass, while the Max or Maya elements are rendered together with Vue elements, matching shadows, reflections, and illumination for seamlessly blended environments. E-on’s Vue software includes EcoSystem technology, which can be used to animate forests with wind, breeze, vegetation, and terrains containing infinite levels of detail, volumetric atmospheres, and procedural multi-materials. Vue environments can be created directly in Max and Maya with a separate license of Vue 5 Infinite. Plug-ins for LightWave 3D, Cinema 4D, and Softimage XSI are currently being developed. Vue 5 XStream sells for $495, and the XStream Bundle, which includes Vue 5 Infinite and Vue 5 XStream, is priced at $995.

Efrontier has teamed with TokyoPop to release Manga Studio 3.0, manga and comic-book creation software for aspiring and professional artists. The software includes the tools to create manga-style comics without the use of other graphic software. Some of the features included in Manga Studio 3.0 are a large selection of screen tones, single-click special effects, drag-and-drop tools, word balloons, and floating palettes. Once the manga or comic artwork is completed, it can be printed from any computer, sent to a service bureau for publishing, formatted for the Web, or exported for coloring. Manga Studio is available in two versions: Manga Studio Debut, priced at $50, and Manga Studio EX, which sells for $300.

The Matrox Axio suite of HD and SD editing platforms now support the new Adobe Production Studio and Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, offering users real-time multi-camera editing and real-time SD clip upscaling in an HD timeline. The Axio systems also offer voice-over recording in the timeline, audio VU meters on capture, and WYSIWYG support for Adobe’s After Effects and Photoshop C2, Autodesk Media and Entertainment’s Combustion and 3ds Max, Eyeon’s Digital Fusion, and NewTek’s LightWave 3D. Other features in the Axio solutions include no-render HD and SD finishing in compressed and uncompressed formats, real-time color-correction tools, and analog and digital audio and video inputs and outputs. The Matrox Axio HD system pricing starts at $17,000, and the Matrox Axio SD pricing begins at $13,000.

NewTek is offering a free upgrade to Version 4.6 of its VT4 Integrated Production Suite to registered owners of the system. The new features of the upgrade include improved 3D animation and motion-graphics tools, enhanced support for multiple monitors, and improvements to the NewTek codec. The update also supports LightWave 8, Version 8.5, and FX Monkey, the icon-driven motion graphics and animation wizard that can be used to easily create animated 3D logos. VT4 V. 4.6 also includes new audio mixer skins, support for YUY2 FourCC, allowing files to be read directly into the Windows Media Encoder, and more. The Version 4.6 upgrade is available as a free download at the NewTek Web site.

The Foundry has released Furnace 3 for Shake, a new suite of plug-ins for Linux or OS X versions of the software that include DeBlur, to automatically remove motion and out-of-focus blur; MatchGrade, for color histogram matching; and Tracker, a multi-point tracker that locates regions on a moving image. Other enhancements to the program include ColorAlign, to remove discrepancies in the alignment of three color channels in an image; Splicer, to stitch together arbitrarily shaped images or parts of images and create a visually believable seam; and DeNoise, to remove noise and artifacts in an image. Furnace 3 pricing begins at $4000.