Spotlight: Products
Issue: Volume 33 Issue 9: (October 2010)

Spotlight: Products

Product: Modeling/Animation

NewTek Turns On LightWave 10

NewTek will soon release LightWave 10, the next generation of the company's professional 3D modeling, animation, and rendering software. LightWave 10 combines robust CORE technology with enhanced Modeler and Layout to deliver the most extensive upgrade in years to the software's production-proven workflow.

LightWave 10 offers numerous new features, including a photoreal real-time version of the company's renderer, VPR (Viewport Preview Renderer), and advanced, real-time CG hardware viewport shading delivering anaglyph stereo, ambient occlusion, transparency, refractions, and bloom.

The new version also offers extensive, new immersive real-time virtual cinematography and game development tools. For production studios and more advanced individuals, this immersive technology includes integrated support for the InterSense VCam virtual camera system. The individual artist gains a similar immersive experience with LightWave 10 and its integrated support for 3Dconnexion's complete line of 3D mice-all of which lets directors and artists interact in real time within a 3D set. Geared for small to large studios, LightWave 10 also supports integrated dynamics and simulations, advanced UV mapping tools, and more.

LightWave 10 is priced at $1495, with upgrade pricing of $695.

Product: Tracking

The Pixel Farm Unveils PFMarchit

The Pixel Farm is offering PFMatchit, a new 2D/3D camera-tracking/matchmoving software that aims to make the technology available to facilities of all sizes. According to the company, the product is part of wider realignment of The Pixel Farm's core VFX product range, including PFTrack.

PFMatchit, released in response to customer demand for a lower entry point to The Pixel Farm's technology, is the first product to harness the company's new 64-bit, node-based flowgraph architecture. This approach dramatically improves the core

processes involved in camera tracking, one of the most critical aspects of successful VFX creation. The new architecture gives users a logical, visual overview of tracking workflows and a procedural, non-linear environment in which to work. Digital artists have full control over every aspect of each individual operation within a workflow, and can experiment non-destructively with different approaches to a shot to achieve the best result. Moreover, the new architecture facilitates shared data manipulation, greater flexibility, and, ultimately, richer creative options for the digital artist.

Optimized as a GPU-accelerated, 64-bit application, and running natively on OS X, Windows, and Linux, the new architecture is underpinned with metadata management, fully-integrated Python scripting, workflow customization, and a host of other features, such as in-built rolling shutter correction and image-distortion tools.

PFMatchit can solve an unlimited number of camera and object motions per shot, with each contributing to another, and then export the data as a single file. It can also solve for lens distortion, when no grid or alignment data exist, and save this lens profile as a preset for automatic use within the workflow. The Edit Camera node provides manual controls, enabling the user to animate the position of a camera in 3D space over time. It allows previous camera solves to be edited, and can generate hints to influence how a 3D camera moves, resulting in solves for shots previously considered untrackable.

PFMatchit is priced at $700.

Product: Compositing

The Foundry Forges New Offerings

The Foundry has announced a number of new offerings, including a new release of its compositor, Nuke. Among the features in Nuke 6.1 is an Ultimatte keyer, in addition to the other industry-standard keying solutions already supported by the software. The 3D system inside Nuke now allows users to select any 3D object or 3D points in the viewer, and add 3D objects to them, including cameras and lights. In addition to FBX input, Version 6.1 now has FBX export, as well. Other features include interactive viewing through the camera, RED 3.1 support, RotoPaint improvements, new camera-tracking features (in NukeX only), and more. Nuke 6.1 is priced at $3500; NukeX 6.1 costs $7200.

Recently, The Foundry has also released MARI 1.0, the company's new creative 3D texture-painting technology. Originally developed at Weta Digital to handle the exceedingly detailed look development and texture work demanded by Avatar, MARI copes easily with an obsessive level of detail--literally tens of thousands of textures--quickly and elegantly.

In other news, the company also released Ocula 2.1, the company's unique collection of plug-in tools that address common problems experienced with stereoscopic imagery in postproduction. Improvements have been made to the tool's ColourMatcher, allowing for the reliable correction of localized color differences introduced by the polarizing effects in mirror and prism rigs. Version 2.1 costs $10,000 but is a free upgrade for existing customers.

Finally, The Foundry introduced two new tools for Adobe After Effects: Kronos 5.0, an accelerated retimer and motion-blur plug-in set, and CameraTracker, providing matchmoving directly within After Effects.

Products: Graphics Cards

AMD Fires Off ATI FirePro V9800

At IBC 2010 last month, AMD launched the ATI FirePro V9800, the new flagship model of its workstation-class professional graphics cards and the first to support up to six displays from a single graphics card for creating HD video walls or giant extended desktops. The card reduces the need for investment per monitor, and tackles the cost and complexity barriers of immersive visualization, such as for stereo 3D applications.

The ATI FirePro V9800 uses ATI's Eyefinity technology to support up to six simultaneous displays, and accelerates complex 3D models at a resolution of 7680x3200--the equivalent of 24.6 megapixels. With AMD's optional S400 synchronization module, multiple workstations can be connected together to sync images for very high resolution video walls or immersive stereo 3D environments. The card also helps reduce the need for investment in new technology by supporting legacy monitors from 800x600 to 2560x1600 and 15-inch CRTs. The  V9800 costs $3499.

Product: Finishing

Autodesk Lights Up Flame Premium 2011

Autodesk introducedits new Flame Premium 2011 for 3D visual effects creation, editorial finishing, and real-time color grading. Flame Premium combines the latest 2011 Extension 1 releases of Autodesk Flame, Autodesk Smoke Advanced, and Autodesk Lustre software into a single offering, designed to help postproduction companies expand and diversify their creative services more cost-effectively.

Moreover, Flame Premium is being launched at a price substantially less than the cost of purchasing licenses of these products individually. New customers can purchase Flame Premium software for as little as $129,000. Upgrade pricing from Flame, Lustre, and Smoke is available.

"Flame Premium presents a great opportunity for customers to expand their creative services and better compete in a media industry that craves ever-more-sophisticated visual imagery," says Marc Petit, Autodesk senior vice president of Media & Entertainment. "The industry is changing fast with HD, stereoscopic 3D and digital distribution. Companies need the flexibility to do more for less. With Flame Premium, customers can now offer a fuller range of services--higher-quality visual effects, editorial finishing, and real-time color grading--all with a single workstation."

Product: Modeling*Animation

Maxon Unleashes Cinema 4D

Maxon has rolled out Release 12 of its Cinema 4D software for 3D content creation.

The releases contains many new features, including a new rigid-body dynamics system based on the Bullet engine; enhanced rendering features, such as a new Picture Viewer with full-screen playback, a histogram display, and navigator; an IK system with new dynamics properties; new deformers; and extensive support for the Python language, OpenGL3, and new architectural shaders, along with a parametric spline L-system. . New Product LineUp

The release comes in several editions. Cinema 4D Prime ($995) is a new core professional 3D graphics package that includes all the basic modeling, animation, and rendering functionality. Release 12 now includes ambient occlusion and many deformers formerly found in the MOCCA and MoGraph modules. Cinema 4D Broadcast ($1695) builds on Prime and offers features and tool sets tured for broadcast design professionals. This edition includes functionality previously included in MoGraph module, GI rendering and features an extensive library of objects, materials and presets. Cinema 4D Visualize ($2295) is a professional solution for architects and designers. This version includes all the functionality of the previous Architecture and Engineering Editions, such as Advanced Render, Sketch and Toon, Net Render 3 module, plus extensive object and material libraries for these professionals. Cinema 4D Studio ($3695) is the most comprehensive edition and includes everything from Broadcast and Visualize editions.

BodyPaint 3D Release 12 ($995) benefits from all the new developments of its sister application, Cinema 4D Prime, offering a full complement of 3D painting and texturing tools. New features in Release 12 include color profiles, the option to render Ambient Occlusion into a texture, and the Cineman connection to RenderMan, including preview renders directly inside BodyPaint 3D. It also boasts updated exchanges with 3ds Max, Maya, Softimage, and LightWave 3D.