Issue: Volume 37 Issue 2: (Mar/Apr 2014)


Autodesk Rolls Out Cloud-Based 3D Character Generator
Autodesk has expanded its cloud offering with the launch of Character Generator, an easy-to-use, Web-based application for creating customized, rigged, and ready-to-animate 3D characters. Once designed, characters can be exported for a wide range of applications. Character Generator requires five cloud credits per high-resolution character download for customers on Autodesk subscription or rental plans. Students and educators receive free access to the product, and
a lighter version of the app for creating low-resolution and crowd characters is accessible for anyone to try at no cost.

Formerly dubbed “Project Pinocchio,” an Autodesk Labs experiment, Character Generator houses a robust library of pre-built male, female, and creature characters. Using slider and selection functions, users can combine and morph the physical attributes of the pre-built models – from body traits to facial features, skin color, hair styles, clothing, and more – to create unique characters. Users on subscription or rental plans can leverage cloud credits to export their 3D creations to 3D software packages such as Maya for further customization and animation.

Stratasys Offers Multi-material, Color 3D Priner

Stratasys has rolled out the Objet500 Connex3, the first 3D printer to combine colors with multi-material 3D printing. The printer features a unique triple-jetting technology that combines droplets of three base materials to produce parts with virtually unlimited combinations of rigid, flexible, and transparent color materials as well as color digital materials – all in a single print run. This ability to achieve the characteristics of an assembled part without assembly or painting is a significant time-saver. Manufacturers can validate designs before committing to manufacturing.

Dell Adds New Category of Mobile Workstation

Dell has introduced a new mobile workstation category, and with it, the first offering in that space: the Dell Precision M2800, a 15-inch mobile workstation that contains ISV-certified and optimized performance at a breakthrough price.

Starting at $1,199, the Precision M2800 – available this spring – helps to bridge the gap between business-class laptops and mobile workstations. Offering workstation-class performance in a mobile form factor, the Precision M2800 can be configured with fourth-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, AMD FirePro W4170M graphics with 2gb of dedicated GDDR5 video memory, up to 16gb of system memory, and up to 1tb of storage to run graphic- and data-intensive workloads in the office or with clients on-site. The machine comes with a 15.6-inch UltraSharp display available in HD or FHD (1920 x 1080), external multi-monitor support, and docking compatibility to simplify the transition from the road to a desk-based workspace.

Autodesk Unveils 2015 Releases of the Company's 3D Animation Products
Autodesk has revealed the 2015 versions of its popular 3D animation tools: 3ds Max, Maya, MotionBuilder, Mudbox, Softimage, and the newest addition to the lineup, Maya LT, a 3D animation and modeling tool for professional indie game makers. (See the Back Products section of the January/February 2014 issue for details about the release of Maya LT.)

Autodesk also announced the availability of the 2015 Entertainment Creation Suite for 3D animation and VFX. The 2015 releases put more creative power back into the hands of the artists, with redesigned core parts of the applications focusing on performance, ease-of-use, and innovative new tools, such as Bifrost, that make it simpler to do complex tasks.

Maya 2015 includes the Bifrost procedural effects platform, which provides an artist-friendly workflow for complex simulation and rendering tasks, initially applied to near-photorealistic liquids; XGen Arbitrary Primitive Generator for the creation of richly detailed geometry, such as hair, fur, and foliage; Geodesic Voxel Binding for skinning characters; ShaderFX, a new node-based visual interface for shader programing; support for Pixar’s OpenSubdiv libraries; enhanced polygon modeling tools; and expanded UV options.

New in 3ds Max 2015 is ShaderFX; point cloud dataset support for reality-capture workflows; new viewport performance optimizations; a redesigned scene explorer so artists can manage large scenes; ActiveShade support for the Nvidia Mental Ray renderer; and new Python scripting support.

MotionBuilder 2015, meanwhile, focuses on motioncapture workflow, including a new plug-in for Microsoft Kinect to capture body movements; Animatable Depth of Field and Follow Focus camera options to re-create elements of real-world cinematography; and a library with 100 commonly required character animations in FBX format.

Also, Mudbox 2015 contains streamlined mesh refinement for retopologizing and new Sculpt Layer and Paint Layer groups for organizing and identifying particular layers in complex scenes. Softimage 2015 boasts Alembic caching, enhancements to the ICE platform, and animatable weight maps in Syflex cloth. (This will be the last release of Softimage.) Maya LT 2015, cost-effective 3D animation and modeling software for professional indie game makers, offers cloud integration through the Maya LT interface; Unfold 3D for creation of UV maps from 3D models; and substance material integration for applying materials created in the Allegorithmic Substance Designer procedural texture creation tool to 3D models.

Maya, 3ds Max, Entertainment Creation Suites, and Maya LT are available in two configurations: as a perpetual license or desktop subscription.

Faceware Offers Indie Facial Mocap Pack
Faceware Technologies has launched a new package targeted at independent and mobile game developers and artists. The Indie Facial Mocap Package includes the Lite versions of Faceware’s software, Analyzer and Retargeter, and a GoPro Headcam facial performance-capture kit for $2,995. Faceware has also updated its Pro Facial Mocap Package with enhancements to Faceware Analyzer 2.0 Pro and a new HD Headcam Pro system. Faceware Analyzer Pro now includes the features of batch/script capability and export landmark positions, which gives users the ability to export the X, Y positions of the landmark (marker) positions.