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3D DIRECT • November 28, 2000

3D in the City

by Abby Albrecht

The Written Render

Alias|Wavefront has begun shipping The Art of Maya (Alias|Wavefront, 2000). This book offering from Alias|Wavefront not only gives beginner and intermediate users an in-depth look at the company's recently released Maya 3 software, but it also acts as a carefully laid out walkthrough of the principles of 3D animation. Produced entirely in-house, the illustrated, full-color, coffee-table-style book can be used as a resource to educators and students, as well as to existing and aspiring Maya users. Over 2000 images and illustrations support the content, which is divided into sections that correlate with the various aspects of 3D content creation. These sections are prefaced with a chapter on getting started with Maya and concluded with one on interactive 3D. Serving as the book's grand finale is a production notes section: an up close look at seven well-known, real-world projects, including ILM's Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999). The supporting CD contains images showcasing scenes created in Maya, ready-to-use Props and Scene Files that support concepts taught in the book, a collection of MEL Scripts and movie files. The Art of Maya may be purchased through the Alias|Wavefront online store. at a cost of $75.95. Academic pricing is available along with a special bundle offering (The Art of Maya and Learning Maya 3) to educational institutions. A Japanese version of the current book will be released sometime next year.

Maxon Bundles Up for Winter

Maxon Computer announced its new software package, The Production Suite ($2195), containing Cinema 4D XL v6 (now in release v6.2), the unlimited client version of Cinema 4D Net, and BodyPaint 3D. Built-in (not plugged-in) features of Cinema 4D XL v6 include a particle system, multitargeted inverse kinematics, motion sequencing, nonlinear construction history, a flexible expression system, and HyperNURBS modelling. Cinema 4D Net enables users to set up a server and unlimited clients over a TCP/IP network, administer the render jobs via a browser-based interface, and allocate scene rendering to clients when the computers become available. BodyPaint 3D's Raybrush technology allows users to paint onto 3D objects in final render quality, using any or all material channels, including reflections and transparencies.

Create Worlds in Your Sleep

3D Nature, LLC is shipping World Construction Set v5.3 (WCS). The new release makes WCS available to Macintosh artists while adding new features for GIS professionals and interactive developers. WCS v5.3 offers new features like an enhanced Data Import Wizard that now recognizes DXF vector colors and allows more flexibility when importing ArcView Shape files. The Atmospheric Editor has improved control over volumetric atmospheres for haze, fog, and crepuscular ray effects. The WCS Texture Engine now offers pixel smoothing for image-based terrain modification without stepping artifacts. WCS can now export edited terrain data and realistic texturing to create realtime 3D applications in interactive games and on the Internet. Improved OpenGL Views can now show edited terrain in realtime. New Adobe Illustrator file support integrates WCS renderings into realistic maps. WCS v5.3 is a free update for registered WCS v5 users. WCS v5 is priced at $995. An upgrade from v2 or v3 to v5 is $449, and an upgrade from v4 to v5 is $399.

Managing Your 3D

Blackfeet released 3D Browser, which allows users to archive 2D and 3D files. For each directory containing one or more 2D files or 3D objects, 3D Browser creates a catalog that allows you to get previews (thumbnail) for every 2D or 3D files, which are in the directory; display the file in a 2D or 3D viewer; get file information (image size, number of points, number of faces, used materials); associate a title, a legend, comments with files; associate author information and keywords with files; search for a specific file; and print the catalog content. File formats recognized by 3D Browser include Photoshop (PSD); Targa (TGA); Compuserve GIF (GIF); Amiga IFF (IFF); JPEG; TIFF; BMP; Lightwave v5, Lightwave v6; 3D Studio MAX v2.5, v3.0, v3.1; 3D Studio; Amapi; and Truespace.

Real Virtual Worlds

Blaxxun Interactive announced the release of Virtual Worlds Platform v5.0. The new software expands online communities from simple chat rooms to interactive 3D environments. The Virtual Worlds Platform v5.0 for E-Commerce has been developed in cooperation with Intershop Communications, Inc., combining its e-commerce solution enfinity with the visualization of the blaxxun technology. The combined solution offers new possibilities for communication and interactivity, including pre- and post-sales consulting through blaxxun agent technology, online shopping with friends, and new tools for product description. The Virtual Worlds Platform v5.0 for Entertainment incorporates the classic uses of communities, such as brand support and media and interest communities, with new interactive user functions such as online multiuser games, incentive systems, and improved object technology. Features like online voting, ranking, and opinion polls make it possible to monitor changes in the atmosphere of the community. The Virtual Worlds Platform v5.0 for Business supports business-to-business applications with optimized functions such as the improved agent technology and refined secure data exchange. The Virtual Worlds Platform v5.0 architecture is easily integrated with existing systems through the application of Internet standards such as Java, HTML, VRML, and X3D.

Shooting to the Top

Simon & Schuster Interactive unleashed Deer Avenger 3D, the third sequel to the popular PC and Macintosh game, just in time for the holiday shopping season (hint hint). Unlike its predecessors, Deer Avenger 3D takes the hunt to new dimensions as Hypnotix engages its players with realtime 3D. This hilarious hunting parody features immersive, realtime 3D characters and decors from Virtools.

Hypnotix, an American game development company, chose Virtools to create its first 3D production of the series. Virtools helped Hypnotix stay focused on content development and eliminated many of the technical limits that often come with 3D creation. Mike Taramykin, CEO of Hypnotix replied, "During the production process we experienced lots of growing pains. . . . With some systems, if you commit to something, you're done. However with Virtools, mistakes are readily forgiven."

Xara Updates

Xara has launched Xara X ($149), the new and updated version of its graphics creation package (formerly known as CorelXara). Upgrades include export of static SWF files; pressure-sensitive, realtime brush stroking, including simulated air brushing, with fully editable strokes and user-definable brush designs; and full automatic on-screen antialiasing for rotated and scaled bitmaps. The app is available for Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000.

Abby Albrecht is 3Dgate's Web editor. Why, why, why did they make Scully pregnant? You can reach her at [email protected].