Spotlight April 2007
Issue: Volume: 30 Issue: 4 (April 2007)

Spotlight April 2007

Gelato 2.1 Delivers Hair-Raising Results.
Nvidia recently served up Gelato 2.1, its high-quality, GPU-accelerated rendering software, which now includes support for Joe Alter’s Shave and a Haircut software for computer-generated hair and fur effects. With support for Shave and a Haircut, Autodesk Maya users can easily add Gelato to their rendering pipelines.

Gelato is final-frame rendering software for the creation of high-quality CG images that is accelerated by the Nvidia Quadro FX and GeForce graphics hardware. Originally developed to render film and broadcast visual effects and animation, Gelato is well suited for any 3D software application that requires high-quality rendering, such as animation, game development, CAD, industrial design, and architecture.

Other enhancements in the release include support for Autodesk Maya 8.5 and 3ds Max 9.0. In addition to supporting fog lights (volumetric effects for spotlight cones), Gelato 2.1 sports performance improvements, including faster raytracing and ambient occlusion. The product’s improved stereo rendering features new off-axis and parallel projection modes and a better anaglyph (red/blue) display in the image viewer.

Gelato 2.1 is available as a free download at , while Gelato Pro 2.1, priced at $1500, offers advanced rendering features and greater scalability for professional production pipelines.

Imagineer Systems Starts Its Motor

Imagineer Systems rolled out Motor, the company’s first offering in its new initiative to deliver sophisticated, high-end visual effects and design capabilities to mainstream visual effects artists.

Specifically designed to be more affordable and accessible to a wider range of effects artists, Motor delivers a unique approach to rotoscoping for high-quality matte production within commercial, film, and corporate video postproduction. Motor is built on Imagineer’s 2.5D planar tracking and spline technology, previously afforded only to high-end visual effects design tools.

The product not only tracks x and y motion, but also tracks perspective, and it does so on entire regions of the frame, without having to isolate individual tracking points. Because it is tracking regions and not points, the process is extremely fast.

Motor enables users to rotoscope footage three to four times faster than they can with traditional tools through integration between the tracker and rotoscope capabilities, yielding higher-quality matte production in less time. The tool also supports popular design platforms.

Motor is available now and ranges in price starting at $1595 for a single-user node-locked license, to $6995 for a 10-user cross-platform floating license.


Alienware Enters the Fourth Dimension
Triggering the start of a new evolution in the company’s workstation line, Alienware has introduced its most powerful offering to date: the MJ-12 8550i, powered by the Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor 5300 series. As the first Alienware workstation to offer quad-core processing, the MJ-12 8550i represents the initial offering in a series of upcoming workstation solutions from Alienware.

The Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor 5300 series injects the MJ-12 8550i with 50 percent greater performance than previous-generation Intel Xeon processors. This helps Alienware’s latest workstation deliver unparalleled performance per watt and expanded virtualization capabilities, ideal for demanding creative professionals, such as CAD engineers and digital content creators.

To maximize both storage space and data access speed, the MJ-12 8550i is available with up to four 15,000 rpm Serial Attached SCSI hard drives. Also well suited for memory-intensive applications, the workstation includes up to 16gb of DDR2 FBDIMM memory, and is equipped with a choice of Nvidia Quadro FX and ATI FireGL graphics cards.

Pricing for the MJ-12 8550i varies according to system configuration.

Right Hemisphere 5 Makes Global Debut

Right Hemisphere, a provider of enterprise-class solutions for the manufacturing market, has rolled out its latest offering, Right Hemisphere 5, an integrated suite of visual product communication and collaboration solutions.

The software is designed to eliminate inefficiencies in the enterprise and to help manufacturers get their products and support materials to market faster. Right Hemisphere’s software integrates with and extends all major product data management and product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, and enables the re-use of accurate and up-to-date product information. The software also automates the delivery of product information to those in the extended enterprise, in whatever format is required, including corporate document standards, such as Adobe PDF and Microsoft Office. This means stakeholders across the extended enterprise—including sourcing, sales and marketing, manufacturing, training, and service and support functions—can more rapidly and painlessly incorporate visual product information into their deliverables.

Right Hemisphere 5, aimed at solving communication and collaboration problems, includes new releases of Right Hemisphere’s software stack, including major improvements and feature additions to its flagship Deep Exploration client and Deep Server enterprise software. The solution contains robust technical illustration capabilities, such as detailed view creation, symbols, new and improved line-style materials, WebCGM output, 3D true-type fonts, legacy illustration sheet support, thrust-line generation, improved Adobe PDF callouts, and more.

External workflow support for post editing and collaboration processes make PDF creation more flexible and powerful. Also, advanced parts and bill of materials (BOM) management, including new metadata display and editing tools, ease the management process while enriching the document information. Version 5 also includes updated management tools and new assembly and part workflows, and delivers enhanced 3D PDF publishing capabilities for manufacturers. 

The Right Hemisphere 5 platform delivers enhanced, interactive 3D PDF files that users can author without JavaScript programming knowledge.

Right Hemisphere 5 Deep Explor­ation, Deep Publish, and Deep View client software are available now in the Right Hemisphere e-store. Deep Exploration comes in two versions: the Standard Edition for $495 and the CAD Edition for $1995. Deep Publish, which allows users to more easily publish, view, and share 2D and 3D graphics within Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat applications, is offered as a free download. Right Hemisphere’s Deep View is a free viewer that enables users to view and interact with these 2D and 3D graphics in Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, or Excel. Right Hemisphere 5 Deep Server, meanwhile, will be generally available in early summer.

Nvidia Rolls Out New Quadro Solutions

Nvidia unveiled a new line of professional graphics solutions that include the Quadro FX 4600 and Quadro FX 5600, as well as the Quadro Plex VCS Model IV. These offerings move beyond typical graphics processing to offer compute-processing capabilities for algorithms, analysis, and simulation, for example, via the new Nvidia CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture).

Designed to tackle the extreme visualization challenges of the automotive styling and design, oil and gas exploration, medical imaging, visual simulation and training, scientific research, and advanced visual effects industries, these new Quadro solutions offer next-generation vertex and pixel programmability through Shader Model 4.0. This enables a higher level of performance and realism for OpenGL and DirectX 10 professional applications.

Additionally, the new cards offer 10-bit color output for greater color range and image accuracy.

The Quadro FX 5600 offers an 1.5gb frame buffer for applications that have large data­sets for volume rendering (such as medical visualization and oil and gas exploration), for interactive visualization, and for real-time processing of large textures and frames using full-scene anti-aliasing. The offerings also contain a new unified architecture that entails dynamically allocating compute, geometry, shading, and pixel processing power, resulting in optimized GPU performance. Nvidia’s CUDA technology and Quadro hardware combine to enable developers to solve complex visualization challenges. 

The Nvidia Quadro FX 4600 is priced at $1995, and the Quadro FX 5600 carries a price of $2999.

Luxology Delivers Modo 203

Luxology has released Modo 203, with enhancements to the UV editing tools, faster rendering, and a new DXF translator plug-in that offers performance and workflow improvements—all of which provides a faster path to creating high-quality 3D content for game development, design visualization, film visual effects, video production, and graphic arts.

Modo 203 includes technology and user interface additions that combine to make development of high-quality UVs faster and easier. The UV unwrap tool has been improved so that UVs are laid out by the software with less angular and proportional distortion as compared to the geometric polygon volume. The UV pinning function has been improved, enabling users to interactively relax the UV data.

The seal hole option in UV unwrap also has been overhauled for more reliability on enclosed spaces in the mesh, such as eye sockets. Moreover, UV editing is improved by a move and sew option that enables the joining and scaling of discontinuous UVs in one step. Copying and pasting a UV between polygons is now facilitated, and a new UV-orient capability permits all UVs to perfectly align horizontally or vertically.

The Modo renderer sports additional speed injections, allowing for faster raytracing and ambient occlusion, and full-light “baking” operation. Irradiance caching also has been optimized, further cranking up global illumination performance on large-resolution renderings.   

With the new DXF plug-in that reads and writes ASCII DXF files from inside Modo, architects and designers can import 2D and 3D entities from DXF files, including polymesh, arcs, circles, lines, points, polylines, and more. Layers in the incoming DXF files are automatically created as corresponding layers in the Modo scene to preserve file organization. At export, the new translator converts the Modo triangles and quads into a polymesh, with vertex connectivity maintained.

Modo 203 for both Mac OS X and Windows sells for $895; it is available free to registered Modo 202 customers.