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3D DIRECT • April 10, 2001

She Ran Calling "Render Farm"

by Abby Albrecht

Pretty, Bright, Shiny Metal

Graphics studio and publisher Marlin Studios has released "Seamless Textures 8 - Absolute Metal Surfaces," ($159) created by the artist and photographer, Sebastien Houde. The collection is the 11th in a series of photorealistic, tileable texture libraries for 2D and 3D graphics artists.

The royalty-free library is composed of mostly industrial metal textures, with categories such as gratings, painted metals, rusted metals, patterned metals, and 10 textures containing transparent sections. As a free added bonus, Marlin Studios includes a collection of 129 high-resolution stock photos of scenes where metals are depicted. The texture library also includes a royalty-free 3D mesh of a refinery, which retails at Viewpoint, Inc. for $695. Houde created color-swatch textures of the 57 metals in the Periodic Table, which allows artists to add metals with exact colors to their art. "Seamless Textures 8" can be ordered online at the Marlin Studios Web site.

Creating a Universe for an NT

Electric Image Universe v3.0 ($1995) is now available for Windows NT/2000. Universe v3.0 is a 3D modeling, animation, and rendering system for Windows, Macintosh OS X, and Sun Solaris platforms. It is an upgrade and a replacement for the Electric Image Animation System.

Universe's hybrid modeler enables artists to create resolution-independent shapes with solids, NURBS surfaces, and uber-NURBS (subdivision surfaces). Its animation system has character animation tools, a new inverse kinematics system, faster deformations, and camera projection mapping with realtime image previews. Universe v3.0 also features a new raytracing engine that produces photorealistic image quality and offers network rendering, reflection maps with occlusion, and channel-based controls for optimized rendering times. For more information, visit Electric Image's Web site.

New Toys with Amorphium Pro

Electric Image also announced a special promotion for its award-winning Amorphium Pro 3D software. Customers can now purchase Amorphium Pro for $249, and for a limited time they can choose to receive a free Wacom Intuous graphics tablet (serial PC version) or Swish v1.5 text effects software with a free upgrade to Swish v2 (PC compatible) as an added bonus.

Amorphium Pro is a 3D modeling, animation, and rendering package for Macintosh and Windows PCs. Amorphium Pro combines traditional modeling with the ability to sculpt 3D objects using Adobe Photoshop-style brushes and design tools. For Macromedia Flash developers, Amorphium Pro can create 3D characters, logos, interfaces, text and animations in the vector-based SWF format. Amorphium Pro also imports all major 3D formats and produces 3D Flash graphics with realistic shadows.

This offer is available exclusively from Electric Image until April 27th, or while supplies last. Customers of this promotion will also be eligible to enter into the "Amorphium Pro 3D Art Contest," for which participants submit content created with Amorphium and can possibly win a free copy of Electric Image Universe ($1995) 3D animation system.

Getting Flashy with Maya

Cambridge Animation Systems, maker of Animo software, announced Swiffworks, a new plug-in that delivers Macromedia Flash (.swf) output to users of Alias|Wavefront Maya. Swiffworks is based on the Maya scene interpreter developed for the Cambridge Inkworks plug-in, used in the feature film Rugrats in Paris (2000).

The new plug-in allows users to choose a Swiffworks material or use the default Phong material provided by Maya. Swiffworks materials provide: independent control of ink lines and painted regions, and control over the color, width, and generation of ink lines. The Swiffworks renderer is fully integrated into Maya v3.0.1 and includes support for Maya Render Global Values, additional options based on those values, and a choice of IRIX or NT platforms. Swiffworks will be available in May through Cambridge Animation Systems and its dealers worldwide.

Cooking with Maya

The people over at the Gnomon Workshop watched too much of the Food Network while they worked on their latest products. Iron Chef Alvarez and Iron Chef Krumweide produced six new savory entrees, or in reality, six training tapes covering polygons, rendering and cameras in Maya, and three titles on effects animation using particle emission. Each tape has 110 minutes of instruction and is available in NTSC and PAL formats.

Polygon Modeling I and II show how to create surfaces, starting with simple polygons and moving to refined subdivision surfaces. Part I addresses the fundamentals of modeling, conversion of surfaces, and the necessary UI. Part II addresses how to combine or separate polygon meshes, create and modify subdivision surfaces, convert subdivision surface to NURBS patches, and adjust surface normals.

Rendering, I: Cameras gives an understanding of Maya's interpretation of real-world cameras. Additionally, it shows how 3D scenes need to address rendering issues such as backgrounds, framing, resolution for output, render layers, and quality.

In Dynamics, I: Particle Tool, Create Emitter two of the key tools for such work are explained and demonstrated: the Particle Tool and the Create Emitter tool. Example scenes include galaxies, clouds, ground fog, explosions, bubbles, smoke, and steam. Dynamics, II: Vertex, Point and Curve Emission focuses on the Emit from Object tool as well as the Curve Flow effect. Example scenes include fire, smoke, shockwaves, fireworks, explosions, sparks, solar flares, and liquid streams. Dynamics, III: Surface Emission looks at techniques that allow for a high level of control over surface-emitted particles. Methods for working with and creating the source textures are demonstrated. Example scenes include crawling fire, smoke, steam, and erosion. To see the entire menu in color, or to place an order, visit Gnomon's Web site.

Extruding 3D Sounds Painful

ParallelGraphics released Extrusion Editor, a visual plug-in for its VRMLPad, which offers fluid and effective editing of extrusion models. Extrusion Editor allows developers to manipulate the primitive shapes that make up all 3D models into more complex and innate shapes. It can also be used to edit existing models or build new ones from scratch.

Features include visual support for every step in the creation of extrusions, with all parameter manipulation now displayed in the 3D window. Users also have the ability to create cross sections and spines based on spine curves with advanced interactive mapping, and can assemble created extrusions in complex models. Extrusion Editor also offers an expandable library of extrusions.

A MAXimized Plug-in

Interactive Imaging Systems, Inc. announced it is releasing its MAXimum3D software plug-in for Discreet 3D Studio Max and 3D Studio Viz. MAXimum3D is a realtime rendering engine for 3D Studio Max, which allows users to launch full screen and interactive views of their models. The plug-in is targeted at the game developer, 3D modeling, and education markets. The software, which comes bundled with the company's VFX3D Head Mounted Display, will allow 3D Studio Max models to be viewed in stereoscopic 3D. Head motion tracking built into the VFX3D, allows users to see where they look. The software will be sold directly through Interactive Imaging Systems, and through select Autodesk and Discreet sales channels.

Surfacing at dvGarage

DvGarage announced the release of "The dvG Surface Toolkit," ($249) a collection of images and tutorials designed add the final touches of reality to both 2D and 3D projects. The product and techniques show how to quickly create photo-real work without the need for complex shaders or well-developed illustration skills.

Created by Alex Lindsay, the "Surface Toolkit" uses dvGarage's proprietary technique to provide the needed detail to create the wear and tear common in real world. The "Surface Toolkit" includes 150 grime images along with step-by-step tutorials and project files. The product can be purchased through dvGarage's distribution partner, Toolfarm.com, Inc.

With the Bunny Comes Chocolate

Got milk chocolate? ComputerGear, Inc. has computer geeks' Easter/Spring-holiday-of-choice needs covered this year. Solid milk chocolate CD-ROMs and chocolate floppy disks, each packaged in real computer jewel cases (three for $19.99), a solid milk chocolate computer mouse wrapped in gold foil complete with a gold wire tail ($9.99), and a box of chocolate bytes ($12.99) are available through the company's Web site.

Abby Albrecht is the Web editor for 3Dgate. She's a Scorpio who likes breakfast, sci-fi, and vendors who offer Coca-Cola at conferences. You can reach her at [email protected].