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3D DIRECT • February 12, 2001

Swan Swan Animator

by Abby Albrecht

Start a Studio with Discreet

Discreet revealed details of its Web studio set, a limited promotional bundle within 3ds max 4. The Web studio set icludes integrated plug-ins and tools from Cycore, Ideaworks3D, Pulse, RichFX, and Viewpoint aimed at streamlining the process of bringing 3ds max models and animations to the Web.

Vecta3D-MAX from Ideaworks3D renders 3D scenes to the Macromedia Flash format. It delivers cartoon-shaded vector images and animations with control over line color, line style, and image detail.

Cycore Cult3D integrates with 3ds max software to create low-bandwidth, interactive 3D objects for viewing and manipulating on the Web, in Microsoft Office presentations, and in Adobe Acrobat documents.

Pulse technology takes 3D animation on the Internet and enables the creation of talking characters, interactive objects, and photo-realistic 3D content. As part of the new 3ds max 4, game developers for PC, Sony PlayStation 2, and forthcoming Microsoft Xbox titles can create game previews on the Web.

RichFX provides front-end, e-commerce infrastructure solutions that create three-dimensional environments with 3ds max 4 and the RichFX Encoder. The RichFX Encoder compresses files from 1/20 to 1/100 the size of an MPEG, so even consumers on dial-up modem connections can experience rich content. A wizard application in RichFX guides artists in creating 3D animations and moving them to a Web browser.

With Viewpoint, 3ds max 4 users have a solution for translating their content into the Viewpoint file format with a direct, high-productivity path to bring their work to the Web. Through Viewpoint, 3ds max 4 artists are able to create and migrate interactive, visual content to the Internet.

For more details about the Web studio CD set and additional 3ds max plug-in partners, visit Dscreet's Web site. 3ds max 4, is now available for $3495 with an upgrade price from 3ds max 3 of $795.

Plugging in for Free

Currently developing new plug-ins for Discreet 3ds max 4, Reyes Infografica has decided to make the MAX 3 versions of ClothReyes, MetaReyes, DirtyReyes, CartoonReyes, SurfReyes and JetaReyes available for free. The new versions for max 4 will be optimized for Intel Itanium. Visit Reyes Infografica's Web site to download the free pug-ins.

Start a Universe with a Sun

Sun Microsystems, Inc. announced the availability of Electric Image Universe on Sun hardware. Used in film, broadcast, game development, industrial design, and Web authoring, Universe will be available for Sun Blade 000, Ultra 80, Ultra 60, and Ultra 10 workstations running on the Solaris Operating Environment. Universe software will also be supported by the full range of Sun's graphics accelerators for professional level graphics, including the high end, power graphics Sun Expert3D board.

Universe offers sophisticated modeling capabilities and the ability to create complex objects with its hybrid surface/solids modeler. Artists can create resolution independent shapes with solids, NURBS surfaces, or UBER-NURBS (subdivision surface modeling). Its animation system has also been enhanced with deeper character animation tools, a new Inverse Kinematics system, and advanced camera projection mapping with real-time image previews. Universe's rendering system, Camera, features a new raytracing engine that offers network rendering, reflection maps with occlusion, and channel-based controls for optimized rendering times.

Universe will be available worldwide through traditional Sun reseller channels. Support for Universe on Sun's Solaris Operating Environment will be available through live and DVD-based training courses. The Universe software package for the Solaris Operating Environment retails for $1995.

Making Motions with Turbo Squid

Turbo Squid Corporation, a digital asset marketplace, announced an agreement with Pepper's Ghost Productions, a computer animation company, to offer the Muybridge Variations Motion Capture Library to Turbo Squid's digital artist community at a price of $35 for each motion file. The Muybridge Variations files let artists integrate pre-built character movement into their scenes. It is ideal for main characters as well as secondary or background characters in group and crowd scenes, or simply for studying walk cycles and animation principles. Muybridge Variations can be used in animation, visualization, and development projects.

Blaxxun for Free

Blaxxun interactive is offering its 3D client blaxxun3D as a free download. This platform independent, 58 kbyte Java-applet allows presentation of 3D objects with a standard browser. It's loaded automatically for Web visitors and requires neither additional plug-in nor separate installation. Typical uses for blaxxun3D are 3D visualization of products, processes, avatars, and interactive animation, even navigable virtual worlds. For web designers experienced with Java, there is an API (application programming interface) through which upgrading and customizing can be done. Blaxxun3D uses Java 1.1, standard to all fourth-generation internet browsers and higher and supports all features of the X3D format, a compatible subset of the ISO standard, VRML97. An optimizing tool is also provided, which reduces the file size of VRML objects and adjusts to the X3D format.

Strike a Pose

Curious Labs, Inc. has begun shipping Poser Pro Pack ($149), a set of tools and plug-ins that expand the functionality of Poser 4, a 3D character animation and figure design tool. Pro Pack enhances Poser 4's production capabilities with new export options, 3D integration solutions, and improved workflow for the creation of custom figures. These changes allow professional users to create 3D characters for the Web, print, film, and video.

With Pro Pack's capabilities, Poser users can now: host Poser 4 scene files in NewTek LightWave and Discreet 3D Studio MAX, including animated 3D characters with the plug-ins included; add animated character content created in Poser to Web sites and other interactive projects by exporting Viewpoint Experience Technology for 3D and Macromedia Flash for 2D; create custom figures with the Figure Set-Up Room. Additional features include 2D-Motion Blur, multi-view panes, Python scripting support, and new compressed library files. Poser Pro Pack is available to owners of versions 4 through 4.0.3 of Poser.

Abby Albrecht is the Web editor for 3Dgate. She's looking forward to the day it's called 4Dgate. You can reach her at [email protected].