Issue: Volume: 23 Issue: 5 (May 2000)

Products - 5/00

Win Ramsoft Systems Inc. has implemented a 3D on-line product configurator that dynamically generates CAD models based on specific user inputs. From a Web-based entry form users are led through a series of questions about their specific applications. From the input a properly sized part is selected and the corresponding 3D model is generated. The model can be rotated, cross-sectioned, and zoomed in or out live on the Web, or it can be downloaded to the user's computer for insertion into the engineer's design drawing. The program generates 3D models in Catia, Unigraphics, Solidworks, or IGS format. (Southfield, MI; 248-354-0100;

Win Gridgen Version 13.3 from Pointwise adds automatic geometry cleanup and a wider variety of grid elements. The CAD model is meshed and the software automatically merges adjacent mesh surfaces that are within a user-specified tolerance, effectively meshing over gaps in the CAD model. Also new, prism elements are extruded from a triangular surface grid to provide fine resolution of flow gradients, such as the boundary layer along an exterior surface. Pyramid elements are used to interface between hexahedral and tetrahedral cells. (Bedford, TX; 817-377-2807;

Win For production-oriented mainstream design and engineering, Microcadam Inc. offers Helix2000. The software includes Helix Craftsman, a topological modeling toolkit for local shape deformation, precise design change, and accurate model healing. A new dragging axis helps positioning-in the context of top-down or bottom-up assembly design-by intelligently snapping parts into place. Users can embed mating condition intelligence into parts prior to assembly, so that they understand how they should fit together. This product also provides enhancements to associative drawings to allow creation of annotation symbols for tolerances and surface finish. The price starts at $3995. (Burbank, CA; 818-253-2200;

Win New from Imagecom Inc., FlexiDesign Version 2.0 for Autodesk Mechanical Desktop 4.0 automatically converts 2D legacy CAD drawings to parametric feature-based 3D models. This version comes with a new interface to Mechanical Desktop 4.0 and supports multi-document environment, enabling users to convert many drawings simultaneously in many windows. Other capabilities include support for both first angle and third angle projections, complete support for DWG files, and extraction of array features. Automated drawing checking software detects and corrects errors in the 2D drawing before it can be run through FlexDesign. Pricing is available directly from resellers. (Arlington, TX; 817-247-6933;

Win The notable new features in SoftCAD.3D Lite 1.5 from SoftCAD International include OpenGL; improved library management; 3D text tool; terrain coordinate import; enhanced texture orientation; global sun settings; and new file export formats, including VRML. The price is $199. (Concord, CA; 800-763-8223;

Modeling and Animation

Win Version 3.0 of Ulead Systems' Cool 3D addresses the needs of video professionals and Web designers by adding more options for creating personalized animated 3D graphics and special effects. The product supports both AVI and QuickTime formats with enhanced save features for video output. Users can save as frame or field-based video, apply NTSC or PAL video color-safe filters, specify the compression scheme or codec, and specify the frame rate and frame size. For Web design this version incorporates GIF animation optimization features to shrink file sizes for faster viewing on the Web. Users can choose the number of colors in the animation, create a global palette, and remove redundant pixels. The estimated price is $79.95. (Torrance, CA; 650-685-3850;

Win/Mac From Genetic Graphics Inc. comes GenShade, an interactive software application that enables artists to create a variety of shaders for RenderMan and Houdini 4.0 mantra photorealistic rendering software. The product uses genetic algorithm techniques that are custom-made for shader generation. The software automatically generates a large set of surface, displacement, light, or atmosphere shaders for evaluation based upon one or more shaders selected for genetic reproduction. (Savannah, GA; 912-898-5915)

Win/Mac A resolution-independent 3D compositing and title effects plug-in suite, Boris RED from Boris FX integrates seamlessly into nonlinear online finishing systems. Created for editing professionals in commercial television post-production, the software uses "Z-Space" containers for intersecting video layers in true 3D space. The product includes complete title effects and animation functionality, which can be expanded by using compatible Adobe After Effects plug-ins all within are nonlinear online host. The price is $1995. (Boston, MA; 617-451-9900;

Win/Mac KPT 6, from MetaCreations, boasts eight plug-ins and two filters that extend and enhance the creative possibilities for users of Adobe Photoshop and compatible hosts. The plug-ins (Materializer, Equalizer, Gel, LensFlare, Turbulence, Reaction, Projector, and Goo) share a consistent interface with standardized workflow and control behavior that reduces the learning curve. The SceneBuilder filter provides tools to create realistic 3D scenes, while the SkyEffects filter provides tools to create stormy skies, sunsets, moonlit nights, and rainbows. The price is $199.95. (Carpinteria, CA; 805-566-6200;

Win New from Cambridge Animation Systems, Animo Soundtrack Editor enables users to accurately match a dialog track of an animated production with characters' specific mouth movements. The product uses phonetic recognition technology to identify parts of speech as phonemes in a digital dialog track. Each phoneme is identified and displayed next to the timeframe position where it occurs in the soundtrack. Timing information can be output as a "bar sheet" so that animators can match the dialog track with the specific mouth movements of the characters. The product can be used as standalone software or in conjunction with an Animo system for 2D, 3D, or model animation. (Cambridge, UK; 919-481-4599)

Win The Softimage/3D Version 3.9 software from Softimage Co. is optimized for game developers and features new tools for selecting polygons and editing polygonal mesh objects; a major update to the .xsi file format to support constraints, 2D inverse kinematics, triangle strips, and user data; enhanced output for Sony PlayStation format (HMD); improvements to editing envelope weights; and new texturing utilities. This version is free to those under a valid maintenance contract as of March 9, 2000. (Montreal, Quebec; 514-840-0299;

Win WaterFX, a software add-on for real-time 3D ocean modeling from 3D Pipeline Corp., is available as a DLL. The product delivers both real-time geometry and texture maps for authentic water surfaces, viewable from above or below the water's surface. By defining a few atmospheric conditions (such as temperature, depth, wind direction, and velocity) the user can create a variety of dynamic water surfaces. The product's "smart water" responds to lighting changes and interacts realistically with objects like ships and docks. (La Jolla, CA; 858-551-5493;

Win/Mac With Photo/Graphic Edges 10,000+ from Autof/x, users can add edges and special effects to images. The artistic user interface has effects palettes, maximizing usable screen area and putting the intuitive controls and features a click away from the user. Users have control over the opacity, softness, border width, color, background, edge roughness, depth, film grain, and dozens of other aspects. The software includes traditional, geometric, artistic, darkroom, digital, painted, deckled, feathered, and semi-transparent edge effects of every shape imaginable. The price is $199. (Birmingham, AL; 205-980-0056;

Win PolyWorks version 5.0 from InnovMetric Software Inc. provides a completely redesigned alignment module for increased productivity. The new interface reduces the number of mouse clicks required and aligns 1.6 times faster on a dual-processor system. This version can handle larger datasets, such as a full-size automobile. Users can fit Bezier curves directly on polygons for trimming, inserting new surfaces, or inserting a perfect edge. Additionally, users can automatically fill in complex curved holes with new vertices and polygons using fitted Bezier surfaces. (Sainte-Foy, Quebec; 418-688-2061;


Win/Mac Designers can create high-impact interactive graphics and engaging animations for the Web using Adobe Live Motion. Users can create individual dynamic Web graphics or complete pages that incorporate motion, sound, and interactivity in this object-oriented, vector-based authoring environment. The software exports to a range of graphics formats, including GIF, JPEG, PNG, Adobe Photoshop, and the .swf format. The estimated street price is $399. (San Jose, CA; 650-566-2968;


Mac Scanalytics' IPLab/Mac v.3.5 provides enhanced image processing, annotation, image analysis, and mathematical operations. New features include easier scripting functions for rapid automation and implementation of user-defined protocols, an updated crop command for simplified cropping of current regions of interest, and a new normalization utility that simplifies contrast enhancement on all data types. Updated image analysis features contain a segmentation function that enables users to segment images and a white balance command to modify the white balance on a color image interactively. Bundled with the product is basic 3D reconstruction and projection software, which includes 3D deblurring and rendering capabilities and a Z-axis control system. The price is $2995. (Fairfax, VA; 703-208-2230;

Digital Video

Win Users of the RAX HD animation recorder, which is based on Intergraph Computer Systems' Wahoo Technology, can render animated sequences and output them as high-definition video sequences in virtually any format or resolution in real time. Frame Wrangler frame harvesting technology automatically searches the network and assembles rendered frames in sequence into a video file. Users also can replace bad frames without reconstructing entire clips. The price is $150,000. (Huntsville, AL; 800-763-0242;


Win The 20.8-inch ITQX20 high-definition thin-film transistor LCD panel from IBM offers 2048x1536 pixel resolution at 123 pixels per inch. The unit can display two A4-size images on the screen simultaneously. The company's Pearl-less technology replaces the glass spacer balls traditionally used in LCD modules with a permanent spacer, providing a more rigid panel construction, improved picture quality, and better contrast. (Yorktown Heights, NY; 914-766-3611;

Win/Mac/Unix The Panoram PV 290 from Panoram Technologies delivers a 3.9-million pixel resolution that wraps around the user in a flat panel that measures 43.5x12.5 inches. Its 3D applications range from data visualizations, perceptual computing, and product design through engineering, oil/gas reservoir management, and process plant design to architecture, object marketing, and design collaboration. The unit features six inputs for computer channels and three inputs for composite or Y/C video. A USB port enables users to automatically switch input sources, adjust and fine tune the display, and control the unit's 290 functions. The price is $27,000. (Sun Valley, CA; 310-899-3370;

Win/Mac The 19-inch SuperScan 769 from Hitachi NSA provides a flicker-free refresh rate of 85 Hz at its minimum resolution of 1600x1280. With its auto-synchronization range of 31-115 kHz, the unit enables users to take advantage of increased performance benefits of high-quality 115 kHz video cards. The monitor features the company's Precision Focus technology with a multi-step dynamic focus gun, and provides a dot pitch of 0.22mm horizontal and 0.14mm vertical. The price is $649. (Westwood, MA; 800-441-4832;


Win/Mac The Signature III CD color printer from Primera Technology offers 1200x1200-dpi print resolution and prints a full-color CD-R at 100 percent coverage in 27 seconds. The unit comes with printer drivers for Windows 95/98/NT and Macintosh. Also includes is CD-ID for Windows, a dedicated design program created specifically for the shape of CDs. New ink formulations enable the unit to obtain high-quality output and robust durability. (Plymouth, MN; 612-475-6676;

Win/Mac Oce Imaging Supplies' view-through backlit film boasts 7mm gauge and scratch resistance. This reverse-print product has uniform density that makes it an appropriate replacement for traditional Duratrans-type photo process films. The film is compatible with the latest dye-based inks from Oce, Encad, and Hewlett-Packard as well as Colorspan, Roland, Mimaki, and other printers. This film is available in 24-, 36-, 42-, 50-, 54-, and 60-inch rolls at prices ranging from $266 to $665. (Chicago, IL; 630-351-2900;

Win The daylight-tolerant scanning feature increases the versatility of MENSI's 3D Laser Scanner by minimizing the impact that ambient light has on the collection of 3D coordinate data from which clouds of points are made. These clouds can then be segmented by feature and geometric extracts can be cataloged or exported to application programs. While the new feature does cut down on the impact of ambient light, it will not eliminate direct light completely. For best results, the company recommends use in low-light conditions. (Norcross, GA; 770-613-5255;


Win Designed to meet the production needs of HD, film and video, digital content creation, and game development studios, RenderBOXX 4000 from Boxx Technologies is a 2U (3.5-inch) rackmount system available in a variety of configurations-from one node to hundreds of nodes. Optionally available are four hot-swappable drive bays. The system includes single or dual Intel 800MHz Pentium III Coppermine processors. Pricing begins at $2365 for a single-unit system. (Austin, TX; 512-835-0400;