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Issue: Volume 35 Issue 2: (Feb/Mar 2012)

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SOFTWARE

PLUG-IN
Improving Efficiency

R&D company CoreCG has released MentalCore, a cross-platform plug-in designed to help artists achieve maximum creativity and efficiency while using Nvidia Mental Ray with Autodesk Maya. The plug-in, developed by supervising TD Corey Frew at Oktobor Animation and beta-tested by film, game, and TV facilities, is suitable for any size studio, supports Maya 2011 and Maya 2012, and is compatible with the Mental Ray stand-alone renderer. The tool’s render globals interface provides quick access to all global settings and render passes; its node-based render pass system eases linking to objects, materials, and lights. It also comes with a shader library, color management system, and a preview renderview. Python API allows for the easy integration of MentalCore into any pipeline. MentalCore is available as a node-locked license for $189 or a floating license for $199.

CoreCG; www.core-cg.com

Boosting Development

Luxion has released a free KeyShot plug-in for Creo 1.0. With the new plug-in, anyone involved in the product development process can create high-quality imagery from Creo data with just a few clicks. KeyShot breaks down the complexity of creating photographic images from 3D models. Its ease of use allows those working with 3D data to create photographic images quickly.

Luxion; www.keyshot.com

IMAGE PROCESSING
Software Stretches, Resizes

GoPro has released a new version of its pro family of 2D and 3D production software: GoPro CineForm Studio Premium and GoPro CineForm Studio Professional. The company also made available a new version of its free software, GoPro CineForm Studio, which adds new features appealing to consumers and pros alike. GoPro CineForm Studio (free download) enables users to adjust aspect ratios and instantly correct distortions or image stretching that typically occurs when resizing images. Users can add keyframes anywhere in the video, as well as effects such as pan and zoom.

GoPro CineForm Studio Premium ($299) captures the most popular features of both CineForm’s Neo HD
and Neo 3D into a singular solution designed for 2D and 3D broadcast and feature-film production. The app extends the stereo 3D tool set and is optimized for multi-camera stereo rigs, such as SI,
Phantom, Red, and Arri Alexa. GoPro CineForm Studio Professional ($999) features a new and improved user interface; non-destructive color correction, reframing/image manipulation, and 3D correction; support for 2D and 3D (all types) video cameras; support for HD and beyond; as well as independent eye control for professional 3D camera rigs.

GoPro; www.gopro.com

VFX
Virtual Environment Tool

Earlybird Technology recently launched its first product, a software tool that draws from the Autodesk Revit building information model (BIM) to generate photo­realistic virtual environments that can be freely explored, much like a video game. Stadia is designed to help architects and clients experience the physical, spatial, and temporal qualities of proposed architecture, as opposed to two-dimensional drawings. These photorealistic virtual environments were not previously possible because industry-standard raytracing rendering may take several hours to generate one frame. Through a patent-pending architectural rendering engine, Stadia is capable of generating photorealistic imagery in milliseconds. Stadia sends BIM data from Revit to the cloud for computation. Users are then e-mailed a downloadable file, which contains the interactive rendering that produces imagery in real time, allowing users to walk through the building as if it was already built. The technology is available as a site-license subscription and can be downloaded as an add-in for Revit.

Earlybird Technology; www.stadia3d.com


Real-time Lighting

Lightmap has released HDR Light Studio V.3.0, the latest version of its real-time lighting software designed to allow artists to quickly light CG scenes. The updated release includes new light-blending modes that use light sources to adjust exposure, color, and saturation. Custom fall-off curves allow for fine control over synthetic light fall-off. A new color system provides color selection and analysis tools for precise color matching and auditioning. And V.3.0 now offers Collada support for the importing of geometry and camera information from all major 3D modeling packages. Render times have also been improved. HDR Light Studio can be used as a stand-alone tool by importing 3D scenes into the CPU-based LiveLight preview tool (included), or in conjunction with any number of LiveLight plug-in partners, including KeyShot, Maxwell Studio, Deep Exploration, VRED, and Patchwork3D. The Standard edition is priced at $630, while a Pro edition, which includes plug-ins for KeyShot, Maxwell Studio, and Deep Exploration, costs $946.

Lightmap; www.lightmap.co.uk

3D Digital Painting

Visual effects software developer The Foundry has released Mari 1.4, the latest version of its 3D digital painting tool. Designed to meet the needs of VFX texture and matte-painting artists, Mari is capable of handling vast numbers of pixels, and allows artists to concentrate on painting detailed, multi-layered textures directly onto 3D models in a fluid and natural way. The new release introduces Photoshop-layered PSD import and export capabilities, along with color management with OpenColorIO and triplanar projection. Mari 1.4 supports Ptex, Python OpenEXR, and C API. Version 1.4 is priced at $1980, with maintenance costing $330.

The Foundry; www.thefoundry.co.uk

TERRAIN
New Vue of Nature

E-on Software has released the 10th generation of its Vue product for the creation of high-resolution rocks, physical water, and spline-driven effects. Advanced render-stacking capabilities have been added, too. Vue 10 xStream is the company’s flagship solution, and allows 3ds Max, Maya, Softimage, Cinema 4D, and LightWave users to create realistic nature imagery from host applications. New tools include spline and road tools, a new rock technology, streamlined terrain editing, and a physical water shading engine, along with improvements in overall rendering performance (up to 30 percent) and artistic control. Vue 10 xStream costs $1790. Vue 9 Infinite, a stand-alone version, retails for $1190.     

E-on Software; www.e-onsoftware.com

ANIMATION
Browser-Based Service

IKinema’s WebAnimate is an all-in-one platform that can professionally retarget and customize animation through a user’s browser. WebAnimate’s built-in tool set allows users to fashion rigs, manipulate bones, retarget/customize motion-capture data and animation in minutes. The introductory version of the platform allows for the retargeting of motion-capture data to models from standard formats such as bvh, FBX, and, in the near future, c3d. Both experienced and beginner users can quickly port mocap data from the cloud or local sources directly to their models. They can also tap into the vast number of free mocap files that reside online. Because IKinema’s solver works off a browser, users are able to animate or retarget from anywhere. The tool is available free of charge during its beta period. After that, users will only be charged when their animations or poses are exported for commercial use.

IKinema; www.ikinema.com

EDITING
Blackmagic Expands Avid Support

Blackmagic Design has introduced Desktop Video 9.0, a new software update with advanced capture and playback for the Avid Media Composer 6 family of software, including Symphony and NewsCutter. Desktop Video 9.0 is available as a free download for Blackmagic Design customers. The update includes support for all current DeckLink, Multibridge, Intensity,
and UltraStudio models. Avid customers can now use Blackmagic’s latest Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 and PCI Express video capture and playback devices. The company’s UltraStudio 3D and DeckLink HD Extreme 3D take full advantage of new advanced 3D editing support in Media Composer 6, saving time and creating a much more fluid editing experience for 3D projects. Version 9.0 features include uncompressed and DNxHD capture and playback in Avid Media Composer 6, real-time effects, and advanced dual-stream 3D workflow capturing left- and right-eye versions to separate files.

Blackmagic Design; www.blackmagic-design.com

HARDWARE

Thunderbolt-Enabled

AJA’s new Thunderbolt-enabled Io XT features dual Thunderbolt ports, allowing users to connect it to a Thunderbolt-enabled Apple computer via a single cable. The additional Thunderbolt port enables users to daisy-chain Io XT to other Thunderbolt peripherals, including high-bandwidth storage and high-resolution displays. Io XT is a portable video I/O device that supports the capture and playback of 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 HD and SD formats. The solution can unify disparate formats via its 10-bit real-time up/down/cross-conversion capability. In addition to the dual Thunderbolt ports, Io XT has two 3g/HD/SD-SDI inputs and outputs; single-link SDI 4:2:2 support; single- and dual-link SDI 4:4:4 support; HDMI input and output (including support for 3D); analog HD/SD component and composite output, 10-bit; eight-channel embedded SDI audio I/O; and eight-channel balanced analog audio output (using an optional DB-25 type cable). Pricing is set at $1495.

AJA; www.aja.com

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