Issue: Volume: 32 Issue: 10 (Oct. 2009)

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SOFTWARE

 

Animation

StretchMesh 1.5
Kickstand recently introduced Stretch­Mesh 1.5, the latest version of its surface deformation plug-in designed to streamline character animation in Autodesk Maya. StretchMesh 1.5 employs an algorithm for relational vertex knowledge, which shares polygonal knowledge with neighboring vertices to speed the creation of smooth character deformations in Maya. StretchMesh, which is designed for animators and technical directors working in feature film, broadcast, and game development, boasts enhanced speed, improved flexibility animating collisions with primitive sphere and primitive curve colliders, and a new Scale Safe mode for scaling a mesh and safely preserving its initial shape. Also new to Version 1.5, Curve Attractors enable users to pull vertices toward the closest point on a curve. StretchMesh is priced at $249 per seat; educational pricing is also available. StretchMesh supports Autodesk Maya Version 8.5 or higher.
Kickstand; www.kickstandlabs.com

HyperMove Upgrade

During SIGGRAPH 2009, Bunkspeed announced HyperMove ’10, a follow-up release to the company’s animation system for designers, photographers, and marketers introduced earlier this year. The HyperMove animation system combines CGI technology with ease of use to enable users with little or no 3D experience to create animations in minutes. With the latest version, users can animate materials and lights, as well as sequence multiple camera animations together into a single animation. HyperMove ’10 features a revamped physics engine, and integrates with Bunkspeed’s HyperShot digital camera for 3D data, enabling the import of HyperShot scenes and materials directly into HyperMove. The latest release of HyperMove is available as a 64-bit version. HyperMove ’10 is now available in Standard and Pro versions.
Bunkspeed; www.bunkspeed.com

Character Animation Service

Mixamo unveiled during SIGGRAPH an alternative to traditional animation methods with the launch of its online animation service. The Mixamo service is designed to simplify 3D character animation for professional game developers, filmmakers, architects, and 3D designers, resulting in time and cost savings. Mixamo aids users in quickly developing production-ready character animations, which can then be customized in seconds with slider-based controls. Mixamo’s collection includes clean, natural 3D character motions developed from real motion-captured data. Users select from various combat motions, sports motions, and dancing motions, customize it, and apply changes directly to the character rig in real time. Upon completion, the animation is downloaded for integration into virtually any 3D application or professional animation or game development pipeline. Many Mixamo animations can be downloaded in perfect loops, ready for in-game content, or combined into longer sequences for general use or in cut scenes. Downloaded motion files are available in FBX, bvh, and Collada formats. Mixamo; www.mixamo.com

   

Rendering

Lightworks Artisan
Lightworks previewed a new range of products during SIGGRAPH 2009 for small- to medium-sized software developers seeking an integrated rendering package. Lightworks Artisan, the first release in this new product family, delivers new functionality to existing Lightworks customers.?Artisan includes Lightworks SnapShots, a new technology that provides views with materials and lighting conditions. SnapShots can be saved with the model and recalled later.?Lightworks also entered a new strategic partnership with Caustic Graphics, creators of the CausticRT interactive raytracing application platform. During SIGGRAPH, Lightworks demonstrated Caustic working with Lightworks, providing users the ability to create photorealistic images quickly and economically. Lightworks also unveiled a new look and feel in celebration of its 20th anniversary year during SIGGRAPH as part of the worldwide launch. Lightworks; www.lightworkdesign.com

 

VFX

3D Equalizer
Science.D.Visions announced 3DEqualizer4, the latest version of its match-moving software. With nearly 90 percent of the core code rewritten, 3DEqualizer4 is designed to offer visual effects artists and technical directors a fast workflow that generates precise results on multiple operating platforms. Matchmoving visual effects technology helps postproduction engineers insert virtual objects into real footage with the correct position, scale, orientation, and motion in relation to photographed objects in a scene. With 3DEqualizer4, a virtual camera move can be reproduced by relying on traditional 2D motion-tracking techniques. When the virtual and real scenes are composited together, they are intended to have the same perspective and appear seamless. The latest version features new lens distortion and survey data tools, improved 2D tracking engines, and a customizable graphical user interface. 3DEqualizer4 is available now in beta and is expected to ship in the near future. Science.D.Visions; www.3dequalizer.com

EDUCATION


New Books at SIGGRAPH 2009

Pearson has released new professional and enthusiast titles focusing on computer graphics, human-computer interaction, and programming. OpenGL Programming Guide touches on functionality and many basic computer graphics techniques, such as building and rendering 3D models; interactively viewing objects from different perspective points; and using shading, lighting, and texturing effects for greater realism. OpenGL Shading Language is part reference/part tutorial, and explains the shift from fixed-functionality graphics hardware to the new era of programmable graphics hardware. OpenGL Library includes OpenGL Programming Guide and OpenGL Shading Language, as well as a bonus schematic poster of the OpenGL Machine for both the 3.0 and 3.1 versions. Pearson; www.informit.com/siggraph09

Online Learning Library
Digital-Tutors, a provider of video-based training for students, professionals, educators, and hobbyists in the computer graphics industry, launched a new online learning library. The library boasts more than 7000 training lessons and 50 all-new courses on the use of such popular software tools as Autodesk’s Maya, 3ds Max, and Softimage. The library comes complete with an exclusive educational platform designed to provide a customized learning experience for artists of all skill levels. The delivery system offers personalized Playlists, the opportunity to create Tags and Notes, a Search smarter tool, and patent-pending CLIPS Technology for creating, saving, and looping any section of a tutorial. Digital-Tutors; www.digitaltutors.com

HARDWARE


Graphics Boards

PNY and Partners

At SIGGRAPH 2009, PNY and its key partners demonstrated graphics solutions for large-scale visualization, film and video, and digital content creation. PNY presented the Nvidia Quadro FX 4800 for Mac, a graphics card specifically designed for Apple Mac Pro users and offering 1.5gb of memory, support for two 30-inch Apple Cinema displays, a standard three-pin stereo connector, and support for Apple Boot Camp. The Nvidia Quadro FX 3800 by PNY, a high-end graphics board with 1gb of memory, was demonstrated for demanding CAD/CAM, 3D design, and DCC applications. Also unveiled, the Nvidia Quadro FX 5800 SDI by PNY, an integrated graphics-to-video solution for broadcast, film, and video professionals, delivers high-performance graphics to uncompressed 12-bit SDI in 2k, HD, or SD formats. PNY also highlighted the Nvidia Quadro Plex 2200 D2, a multi-GPU system designed to provide visual supercomputing power to geophysicists, scientists, engineers, and other technical professionals. PNY Technologies; www.pny.com
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