Issue: Volume 34 Issue 1: (Jan-Feb 2011)

Spotlight: Products


Product: Modeling


Luxology Delivers Modo 501


Luxology revolutionized 3D modeling when it introduced Modo several years ago; recently, the company delivered the next evolution of modeling, painting, and rendering with Modo 502 for the PC and Macintosh.

Software that includes 3D modeling and sculpting tools, plus animation and network rendering, Modo 501 offers enhancements in workflow, performance, and extensibility. Pixar Subdivision surfaces have been added for sharper creases and improved transferability, while sculpting tools now work on multi-resolution meshes, thereby facilitating both coarse and fine adjustments to surfaces as needed. The advent of RayGL brings even greater realism in Modo viewports, effectively merging modeling and rendering, while animation rigging has become more simplified with a visual connection editor. Moreover, users can direct the Preview Renderer to work first on areas located under the mouse, and then progressively resolve to near-final image quality. And, one-click modeling tools and improved snapping accelerate common modeling operations for addressing common tasks quickly.

One of the biggest improvements can be seen in the rendering, which is faster and cleaner. Modo 501 gains, on average, a 30 to 40 percent increase in rendering speed, which benefits both final rendering and texture-baking operations. Depth-of-field quality is enhanced as well, while bump and displacement mapping is crisper, fur can display kink and frizz effects, and a new occlusion texturing option generates worn and weathered effects automatically.

Modo 501 also sports improvements to the SDK to enable third-party developers to introduce totally new items, commands, and tools. Plug-ins can now create geometry parametrically, which also can be converted to a mesh, and procedural textures can create keyframed, multichannel textures. Plug-ins can extend the Modo tool set by providing new ways to create and edit geometry, and command plug-ins enable the development of native C++ based actions.

While some things have changed, Modo’s price has not, remaining at $995; upgrades from any version of the software costs $395.

3DVia Gets Users in Shape


3DVia rolled out the newest version of its 3D modeling software, 3DVia Shape 4.0, for creating any type of image quickly and easily with just the touch of a finger.

Designers use their fingers to generate a model within Shape 4.0, thanks to the software’s multi-touch interface capability. With a touch-screen PC or tablet running Windows 7, they can use both hands to model creations as they would with clay.

Employing the new version, users can now work off-line, designing models without having to log in to 3DVia’s Web site. Models can be made off-line as drafts and later uploaded to the site for publishing. Also new is the ability to view and experience Shape models in stereo 3D with any red/ blue anaglyph glasses. Additionally, users can take screenshots of their models and save them, even as an anaglyph for 3D viewing.

Shape 4.0 is available as a free download from the company’s Web site at www.3dvia.com.

Product: CAD


Dassault Rolls Out New V6


Dassault Systèmes, a leader in 3D and PLM solutions, recently launched the latest version of its V6 release, V6R2011x. As a new step toward the company’s lifelike experience vision, this release delivers competitive advantages in all three domains of the V6 organic architecture: rich applications, online platform, and universal services.

V6R2011x rich applications include 479 new functions and eight new solutions to support Dassault customers’ collaborative creation processes for all targeted industries using Catia, Delmia, and Simulia brands. The V6R2011x Enovia online platform, meanwhile, delivers seven new products and 359 cross-industry and industry-specific functions. Enovia solutions focus on helping customers implement more efficient, innovation-driven governance and sourcing business processes. Enovia solutions rely on the V6 cloud-ready online platform for lifecycle and collaboration management.

The price tag for the new V6 release varies according to configuration.

Product: Color Grading


Blackmagic Updates DaVinci Resolve


Blackmagic Design has updated the DaVinci Resolve high-end color-grading system on Mac OS X and Linux to Version 7.1, now adding DaVinci’s clustered multi-GPU processing power to Mac OS X systems when used with a PCI Express expansion chassis.

With the new DaVinci Resolve 7.1 update, Mac OS X users can take advantage of an improvement in processing power by installing multiple high-performance GPUs. This “supercomputer” processing power, previously only available on Linux systems, eliminates the single-GPU limit for a single computer and lets customers increase processing power by adding additional GPUs as needed. Also supported in the 7.1 update is the ATI 5770 graphics card for the user interface and the Cubix x16 PCI Express expansion chassis for use with multiple GPUs. Support for the expansion chassis gives users the flexibility to install additional storage, video-capture cards, multiple Nvidia Quadro 4000 GPU processing cards, and Red Rocket cards.

The new offering contains upgraded support for Tangent Wave control surfaces and support for the JL Cooper Eclipse CX control surface, as well as new stereoscopic 3D color-grading controls. New file formats and codes are supported, as well.

DaVinci Resolve 7.1 is free of charge for all existing DaVinci Resolve 7 users and can be downloaded at www.blackmagicdesign.com/support/software. Also, new users can purchase the product starting at $995 from Blackmagic resellers.

Product: Middleware


Morpheme Gets a Booster Shot


Game technology and development company NaturalMotion rolled out Morpheme 3.0, a new version of its animation middleware for creating high-quality, believable characters that greatly streamlines the process of authoring rich character animations while adding full support for Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s Move controller technologies.

Designed to give developers and animators creative control, Morpheme 3.0 saves time and resources with improved real-time, graphical authoring and previewing of in-game animation. In this version are new Active State Transitions and Self Transitions, speeding the task of creating responsive characters. Enhancements to the preview facility allow for easy prototyping and testing of interaction between multiple characters, while the asset management system efficiently organizes animation clips and speeds the building of physical characters.

Programmers can easily customize Morpheme 3.0 with the new Node Wizard while gaining insight into run-time execution via all-new deep debugging visualization within Connect. In addition, substantial reductions in run-time memory usage make it easy to work with the large asset libraries of AAA games. With Morpheme 3.0, users can also optionally add full support for Kinect and Move. Specific Kinect nodes filter and retarget data directly onto game character rigs, or allow players to control characters indirectly with gestures.

Product: Lighting


Lightmap Shines with Update


Lighting design can be one of the most time-consuming parts of the visualization process, particularly for those professionals seeking photorealistic results that are particularly well suited for design, advertising, and marketing imagery. To this end, Lightmap, maker of HDR Light Studio, is hoping to alleviate the workload associated with these related tasks by offering its HDR Light Studio 2.0.

The newest version of Lightmap’s flagship product for interactive image-based lighting, HDR Light Studio 2.0 provides CG artists with an interactive tool for designing image-based lighting environments for their 3D models, and an accelerated way to light a 3D scene with photoreal results.

HDR Light Studio 1.5—previously launched in October— enables users to create their own HDRI maps, which are designed separately from the 3D model. The recently released Version 2.0, however, takes a new approach to lighting by providing real-time feedback on 3D models, whereby reflections and lights work in harmony to produce realistic rendered results. Updates in HDR Light Studio 2.0 include: a real-time lighting preview, support for .OBJ and .MI files, the use of photographic HDR environments, faster render times for final high-resolution HDRI output, larger and brighter lights, and more.

HDR Light Studio 2.0 is available now in two versions. The Standard Edition, which features the new LiveLight preview renderer, sells for approximately $650. The Pro Edition, which includes Live Light and HDRI background support, is priced at approximately $950.
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