Next Limit Technologies has released updated Maxwell Render plug-ins for Autodesk’s 3ds Max and Maya, Maxon’s Cinema4D, Graphisoft’s Archicad, and Google’s SketchUp. The Maxwell Render plug-in for 3ds Max is improved by a material wizard, additional export options, an MXI output path control in the render settings, a “use bitmaps” render option, and support for render channels, 3ds Max Standard material, normal 3ds Max cameras, and 64 bits. The upgraded Maxwell Render plug-in for Maya includes 64-bit support, compatibility with Maya native materials, an automated update notification mechanism, material editor rollups expanded by default, and all image-based lighting channels enabled by default. The Cinema4D updated plug-in offers support for native materials, improved workflow, and increased integration. The Archicad add-on supports the Mac OS X Intel platform and includes improved handling of transparency, GMT range, and latitude and longitude ranges. Among the improvements in the SketchUp plug-in are a cleaned-up error log, more efficient geometry exportation, support for exporting internal SU textures, and the addition of SketchUp materials. Maxwell Render users can now download the updated plug-ins from the company’s Web site.
Next Limit Technologies; www.nextlimit.com
Eyeon on the Web
Eyeon Software has launched VFXPedia.com, a new online resource designed for compositors who use Fusion to produce visual effects. Fusion artists and compositors gain access to technical information—such as scripts, tips, examples, and white papers—via the online site. Members of the Eyeon community site can post, rank, submit, comment on, and participate in the various site components, which include Getting Started, Fusion under Linux, Tool Reference, Comp Shop, Tips and Techniques, Settings and Macros, Scripts, Plug-ins, and Wishlist, among others. VFXPedia.com offers information about industry news and events, online networking with other professionals in the field, and compositing information and educational resources. The company also has begun shipping Fusion for Linux, the latest version of its software tool, based on Fusion Version 5.1.
Eyeon Software; www.eyeonline.com, www.vfxpedia.com
Conduit Version 1.5, the newest version of dvGarage’s nodal compositing plug-in, is available for use with Apple’s Final Cut Pro 5.1.2 and Motion 2. Version 1.5 uses Apple’s FXPlugin technology and takes advantage of the system GPU, rather than CPU, enabling more powerful, GPU-accelerated visual effects compositing tools that can render in real time. Priced at $149, Conduit 1.5 is bundled with a free three-month membership to Pixel Corps, more than an hour of video training, and a quick-start guide.
Engineering with ESI
ESI Group, a developer of digital simulation software based on the physics of materials, has introduced the Visual Environment platform. Available for Windows 64-bit operating systems, Visual Environment is a suite of software programs designed to provide an engineering simulation environment with an open architecture and interoperability with computer-aided engineering (CAE) solutions. It supports ESI Group solvers and third-party simulation software, as well as includes a developmental tool kit for customizing the platform. The Visual-Process component aids engineers in capturing, automating, and personalizing CAE processes and engineering practices, whereas Visual Composer tracks and provides interoperability between CAD geometry and compute models.
ESI Group; www.esi-group.com
More Power on the Mac
The latest versions of Imagineer Systems’ Monet and Mokey VFX tools support Intel-based Macs. The newest Monet and Mokey editions running on Intel-based Macs offer greater performance than previous versions. Monet is a tracking and compositing solution for commercial, film, and video post work, whereas Mokey is a tool set designed to aid in the removal of unwanted elements, such as logos, wires, rigs, or scratches and hairs, in the postproduction phase. Each new release is a universal binary capable of running on both G5 and Intel-based systems.
By now, the big Oscar news—that Happy Feet danced its way to Oscar gold in the Animated Feature category and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest slayed the competition for best Visual Effects—is old news. But prior to the Oscars, some other notable names in the digital content creation and related fields received their own coveted statue for making their mark on
Technical Achievement Awards
To Joshua Pines and Chris Kutcka of Technicolor Digital Intermediates for the design and development of the TDI process for creating archival separations from digital image data. (The TDI process is based on the production of digital separation negatives creating archival elements that can be scanned and digitally recombined in the future.)
To Bill Feightner and Chris Edwards of E-Film for the design and development of the E-Film process for creating archival separations from digital image data. (The E-Film process is based on the production of digital separation negatives creating archival elements that can be scanned and digitally recombined in the future.)
To Albert Ridilla, Papken Shahbazian, Ronald Belknap, and Jay McGarrigle for the design and development of the Hollywood Film Company Brumagic MPST Densitometer. (The Brumagic MPST was designed specifically to measure density in the motion-picture soundtrack and has become the densitometer of choice for reading soundtrack negative and positive densities worldwide.)
To Klemens Kehrer, Josef Handler, Thomas Smidek, and Marc Shipman Mueller for the design and development of the Arriflex 235 Camera System. (Designed for handheld photography, this small, lightweight MOS camera also contains features that allow it to be used as a secondary production camera.)
To Florian Kainz for the design and engineering of OpenEXR, a software package implementing 16-bit, floating-point, high dynamic range image files. (Widely adopted, OpenEXR is engineered to meet the requirements of the visual effects industry by providing for lossless and lossy compression of tiered and tiled images.)
To Walter Trauniger and Ernst Tschida for the design and engineering of the Arri WRC wireless remote lens-control system. (This highly modular system permits accurate and reliable wireless control with multiple hand controls of all lens functions.)
To Christian Tschida and Martin Waitz of cmotion for the design and engineering of the cmotion Wireless Remote System. (The graphical user interface of the cmotion system eases the difficult task of following focus, and the unique lens tag system recalls the calibration for each lens.)
To Peter Litwinowicz and Pierre Jasmin for the design and development of the RE: Vision Effects family of software tools for optical flow-based image manipulation. (A unique user interface and relatively low cost have made these tools ubiquitous in the visual effects community.)
Scientific and Engineering
To Phillip J. Feiner, Jim Houston, Denis Leconte, and Chris Bushman of Pacific Title and Art Studio for the design and development of the Rosetta process for creating digital YCM archival masters for digital film restoration. (With elements that may be recombined either digitally or optically, the Rosetta separations process offers a uniquely great versatility in achieving high-quality results for digital YCM archiving.)
To Steve Sullivan, Colin Davidson, Max Chen, and Francesco Callari for the design and development of the ILM Image-based Modeling System. (This highly integrated system facilitates interactive construction and editing of 3D models from digital photographs and addresses the three-dimensional scanning needs of motion pictures in unique and innovative ways.)
To Dr. Bill Collis, Simon Robinson, Ben Kent, and Dr. Anil Kokaram for the design and development of the Furnace integrated suite of software tools that robustly utilizes temporal coherence for enhancing visual effects in motion-picture sequences. (The Furnace tool set’s modularity, flexibility, and robustness have set a high standard of quality for optical flow-based image manipulation.)
To Howard Preston and Mirko Kovacevic for the design and engineering of the Preston Cinema Systems FI+Z wireless remote system. (Pioneering unprecedented reliability and flexibility in wireless lens and camera operation, the FI+Z has continued to be a leader in innovation since its introduction in 1994.)