Issue: Volume 33 Issue 10: (November 2010)


E-on Offers a Better Vue

E-on Software has upped the ante with Release 9 of its Vue product line, which, among other advances, introduces anti-flickering algorithms specifically engineered for rendering large, ultra-detailed natural environments. As a result of this rendering technology, the company believes the use of Vue will extend beyond the scope of matte paintings and into the realm of fully animated 3D shots.

Like its predecessor, Vue 9 has been developed around the same three-tiered family structure. Vue 9 for CG Professionals (Vue 9 Infinite and Vue 9 xStream) is the premiere solution for creating exceptionally rich and realistic natural environments for seamless integration into any production workflow. Vue 9 for 3D Artists (Vue 9 Esprit, Vue 9 Studio, and Vue 9 Complete) provides 3D artists with modular applications to create rich 3D scenery and landscapes. Vue 9 for 3D Enthusiasts (Vue 9 Pioneer, Theme-Packs, and Vue 9 Frontier) features content-filled, easy-to-use scenic nature-creation tools for home and family use, with Vue 9 Frontier specifically dedicated to Poser and Daz Studio users. The Vue 9 Professional solutions will ship first.

Capitalizing on new technologies introduced in previous versions, Vue 9 adds other new and extended features. Internal refactoring enables Vue 9 to render as much as 30 percent faster than previous versions. Advanced data fragmentation and caching distributes scenes to the renderer for completely interactive network rendering. The new version also contains an improved terrain editor with contextual brushes and fully customizable terrain brushes, automatic terrain retopology, sculpting, painting masks, a smear brush, and more. Its HyperBlob Technology, meanwhile, converts HyperTextured MetaBlobs to polygon objects with user-defined LOD for the creation of extremely rich and detailed rock formations. Custom interfaces let users create simplified high-level controls and access these controls directly from the material editor, the terrain editor, or the object editors.

The Auto Saving and Scene Snapshots feature automatically saves the scenes in the background while the artist is working, without interfering with workflow.

Users of Vue xStream or Vue Infinite under maintenance will receive the upgrade to the corresponding Vue 9 product at no charge. For others, Vue 9 xStream and Vue 9 Infinite will ship this month.

NEC Display Gets Ultra-Slim

NEC Display Solutions of America announced the MultiSync EX Series for professional users looking for increased productivity and sleek aesthetics.

The introduction of the series begins with the 23-inch MultiSync EX231W, an LED-backlit LCD monitor with DisplayPort and DVI-I for full high-definition resolution. Ultra-lightweight at 9.3 pounds including the stand, the monitor sports an ultra-slim bezel (14.6mm width). A USB pass-through is located on the top of the monitor for quick connection of a Webcam or for simple flash drive access. In terms of ergonomics, the monitor has a built-in carrying case and fully adjustable stand with 110mm height adjust, pivot, swivel, and tilt. The quick-release stand makes the product especially suitable in financial applications that use multiple tiled monitors.

The series features new technologies, including a human sensor, which detects user activity in front of the monitor and reduces its power up to 95 percent during periods of inactivity. Also, the monitor’s ambient light sensor detects external light sources and adjusts the display’s brightness accordingly, while its carbon savings meter calculates the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Users can adjust the sensor settings as well as the inactivity period.

The MultiSync EX231W will be available at the end of the month for an estimated price of $339.

VirtualRig Studio Blurs the Line with Release 2.1

VirtualRig Studio, a Czech software company, has unveiled a new version of its VirtualRig software, which lets users create realistic curved motion-blur simulations previously only available with expensive camera rigs.

Unlike many other offerings on the market, VirtualRig is believed to be the only software product supporting curved motion blur, enabling artists to choose any background picture and add virtual motion blur. With VirtualRig, the artist decides what to blur and by how much, adjusting the speed to change the look of the picture.

VirtualRig 2.1 can be used on both standard photographic images and computer-generated imagery, including HDR images and high-resolution panoramic pictures. VirtualRig supports images with an alpha transparency channel up to 8 bit, allowing users to decompose a picture into separate layers, render them with different speed and blur settings, and combine the final renders.

According to a VirtualRig spokesperson, the company created the software to overcome the limitations of car-run photography processing, which represents 75 percent of all auto­motive photography and, increasingly, 3D visualizations within the auto industry. VirtualRig takes advantage of static background photography, blurring it by drawing in vectors and regulating the blur before the real or CG car is placed into the scene. The solution drastically reduces the cost of professional car photography, cuts down on production time, and brings new opportunities to CGI photography.

While VirtualRig was designed for professional car photography, it can be used in any situation where accurate motion blur is required.

Available for both Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows operating systems, VirtualRig ships in both Lite and Pro versions for $799 and $3699, respectively.

CPUs with Embedded Graphics Processors Impact the Market

Jon Peddie Research (JPR), the industry’s research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, announced its latest findings in the struggle between CPUs and GPUs in the report “Opportunities, Threats, and Changes Created by the EPG & HPU—Tension at the Inflection Point.”

The research finds that a genuine inflection point is occurring in the PC and related industries due to the integration of powerful SIMD graphics processing elements with multi-core, multi-stage scalar X86 CPUs. In so doing, JPR finds that the stalwart and ubiquitous integrated graphics processor (IGP) will fade out of existence.

Because the graphics processor unit (GPU) grew in greater complexity than the CPU during the past eight years, exceeding the transistor count and matching or exceeding the die size of the CPU, many thought the two would never be able to cohabitate.

Yet, amazing things have become possible as semiconductor manufacturing tolerances get ever smaller. With four times the number of transistors possible in the same space as the previous manufacturing node or feature space, the compute density demanded by GPUs suddenly becomes not just feasible, but completely possible, and practical.

Moving graphics to the CPUs will be attractive first to the builders of low-cost machines. Intel’s Core i5 (Clarkdale and Arrandale), which are embedded processor graphics (EPG) units, were the first wave. Intel’s Sandybridge will be the next generation, while AMD will introduce a massive SIMD GPU array in its Fusion processors (Ontario and Llano), which will be the first heterogeneous processor units (HPU.)

The impact in the total PC and related market on discrete GPUs due to the combination of devices being offered with integrated graphics (IGPs, EPGs, and HPUs) will break the historical rise of discrete GPU sales and put the category in decline.

The EPG/HPU will truly revolutionize the PC and associated industries, the study finds. The amount of computation capability available in the size, weight, and power consumption of systems equipped with EPG/HPUs, and for the price they will be offered, will upset the market dynamics like never before, or perhaps not since the introduction of the PC, predicts JPR.

The “Opportunities, Threats, and Changes Created by the EPG & HPU” market study is available now in both electronic and hard copy editions for $2499 at