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3D DIRECT • March 27, 2000

Building Better, Building Faster

by Matthew Hoover

Trade Your Mouse for a Stylus

SensAble Technologies has released FreeForm 2.0, its modeling software equivalent to molding digital clay with a force-feedback wand. FreeForm 2.0 is designed to work with the Phantom haptic interface hardware and GHOST 3.0 (General Haptic Open Software Toolkit), which works as the "physics of touch" middleware connecting apps to the hardware.

Using the Phantom stylus to edit the model, you can trace around an object onscreen and "feel" its mass. You can output finished models to a rapid-prototyping machine. It can make you feel more like a traditional sculptor than a pixel pusher.

GHOST 3.0 is also available as standalone software (Windows NT 4.0 and IRIX 6.5), which you can use to "touch-enable" your own apps or projects. The physics engine handles the complex computations between the app and the hardware, so you can focus on high-level objects and physical properties, such as location, mass, and friction. The SensAble World Builder in GHOST lets you build and immediately "touch" worlds composed of geometric primitives. GHOST GL provides an application framework and automatic visual rendering of the GHOST scene graph, so you can put sample scenes together quickly. Contact SensAble for pricing information. www.sensable.com

Building 3D Environments

3DNature has announced that World Contruction Set 5.0 ($949), software for modeling natural environments, is scheduled to ship by the end of March. The new version has more functionality than 4.0 and a simplified user interface. Vegetation and 3D objects are easier to place, skies can have star fields and volumetric atmospheres, and the texturing engine is more robust for more photorealistic renders. The software also features enhanced anti-aliasing (minimizing the need for multipass rendering on terrains), more flexible ecosystems, and improved foliage effects and controls. World Construction Set 5.0 has a new wizard for importing data from MetaCreations Bryce (www.metacreations.com), USGS NED and 3D Shape files (www.usgs.gov), Terragen, and SDTS. Plug-ins are available for Discreet 3D Studio MAX (www.discreet.com) and NewTek LightWave (www.newtek.com), allowing you to composite World Construction Set scenes within MAX or LightWave. Windows NT/95/98/2000 and DEC-Alpha NT (same package); current Mac version is 4.5, with 5.0 to follow shortly. www.3dnature.com

Deadly Fast Video Editing

Interactive Effects Inc. will release Piranha Edit, an uncompressed, nonlinear film and video editor for SGI workstations (www.sgi.com), at NAB in Las Vegas in April (www.nab.org). Piranha Edit is based on the popular Piranha HD Visual Effects System and supports the full line of video cards on O2, Octane, and Onyx IR2 workstations. It can import and export CMX EDL files, conform and output content from a variety of sources, and includes full deck control for frame-accurate layoff and capture. Editing features include linear and nonlinear frame-rate adjustment, full-trim handle support, autowipe and dissolve support, clip slip and slide, and user-definable keyboard commands to emulate the workflow of other editing systems. Piranha Edit runs under the SGI XFS file system, which lets it share disk space with other apps and supports high-speed networking. Contact Interactive Effects for pricing information. www.ifx.com

Real-Time Code, No Library Card Required

Digimation, with technology from Intel (www.intel.com), has announced the Real-Time 3D Libraries, five code libraries for real-time game development. MultiRes 2 RT, based on the new version of MRM scaling technology—which is also the heart of MetaStream (www.metastream.com)— lets you create scalable 3D models that dynamically adjust for resolution, frame rates, and available processing power. SubDiv RT increases the polygon count of low-res models by adding polys in real time. Animate RT allows you to animate models that have skeletal systems, with either imported or real-time animation. Toon RT renders 3D models in cartoon, pen and ink, crayon, line, and solid-line silhouette-outline styles. The Particle RT particle system can disperse thousands of scalable, controllable particles in real time with effects such as gravity, magnetism, and a wide range of looks using imported bitmaps. Digimation Real-Time 3D Libraries are scheduled to ship in Q2 2000. Contact Digimation for pricing. www.digimation.com

Eye See You

If you take a look at Dosch Design's latest texture CDs, they'll look back. Human Eyes ($59) and Animal & Creature Eyes ($59) contain multilayer photoreal textures of eyeballs, complete with 3D models and bump, color, transparency, reflection, luminosity, and specularity maps. Human eye colors include blue, green, brown. Animal and creature eyeballs are bear, caribou, cat, cougar, crocodile, deer, elephant, fish, fox, frog, goat, gorilla, lizard, lynx, mountain lion, owl, tarsier, toad, dinosaur, alien, demon, zombie, and monster. Available for 3D Studio MAX, LightWave, Maxon Computer Cinema 4D (www.maxon-computer.com), Gestel solidThinking (www.gestel.it), Autodesk AutoCAD (www.autodesk.com), and multiapplication versions. www.doschdesign.com

A Touch of Sapphire

Sapphire Innovations has released Innovations 1.5 ($39 download, $49 box), a set of 21 effects plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop (www.adobe.com) that includes Shudder, Op-art, Wavy, Emboss, Teethmarks, and other effects, with parameters for fine-tuning. Innovations 1.5 also works with other apps that support plug-ins, such as Jasc Paintshop Pro (www.jasc.com) and MetaCreations Painter 6.0 (www.metacreations.com). Windows 95/98/NT.

Sapphire's other paint-related add-on products include Nozzles Pack 1 ($10), with 100 nozzle library files (NZL) for Painter (Windows 95/98/NT and Mac) and Paper Textures 1 ($19) for Paintshop Pro (Windows 95/98/NT); which includes 1,000 paper textures to simulate a canvas background or enhance brushes and effects. Demos of most Sapphire Innovations products are available at www.i-us.com. www.sapphire-innovations.com

Matthew Hoover is the news editor for 3D magazine and 3Dgate.com. Send news about technologies, products, and projects to [email protected].