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3D DIRECT • April 20, 2001

Beneath the Layer

by Abby Albrecht

The Toast of NewTek

NewTek announced that it will debut Video Toaster v2 ($4,995), its desktop video effects, editing, and live switching system, at the 2001 NAB Conference, being held in Las Vegas, April 23 through April 26. Video Toaster v2 capitalizes on NewTek's experience with video integration to provide a live production environment for post-production and Internet streaming.

A highlight of Video Toaster v2 is Toaster Switcher, which allows eight component, eight Y/C, or up to 24 composite inputs, or any mix of the three types to be switched live to tape, to disk, or to the Internet. Other features include: the SX-8 Switcher Expansion Module breakout-box, with 100 audio, video, and data connectors; Internet streaming; LightWave Express to create flying logos, broadcast graphics, 3D compositing, and 3D animations; the Aura 2 video paint system; support for the full spectrum of video, from broadcast-quality, pristine uncompressed 601 video, to DV and MJPEG, to highly compressed half-resolution captures; the in-sync Speed Razor timeline editor; internal TBC/Genlock in order to use any camera in a multi-camera environment without needing to externally sync cameras; a video processing amplifier (proc amp) for each input; and the Cross Keyer technology, which lets users paint right in the vectorscope window to select a multiple range of chroma key colors.

Available worldwide through authorized NewTek dealers, the NTSC version of Video Toaster v2 is scheduled to ship on July 31, 2001. Visit NewTek's Web site for more information.

Moving with Marceau

Vicon Motion Systems announced that the Ohio State University's Advanced Computing Center for the Arts & Design (ACCAD) installed a motion capture lab equipped with Vicon 8. The university acquired a 14-camera Vicon 8 system, outfitted with Vicon MCam, million-pixel resolution cameras. One of ACCAD's motion capture pilot projects was to record two new signature pieces by legendary mime Marcel Marceau for the university's performance archive.

Vicon 8 with Mcams was able to capture how Marceau breathes during his exercises. ACCAD staff and students were involved in the two-day Marcel Marceau motion capture project, where Marceau performed within the lab. "This is the first digital archiving ever done of Marcel Marceau's motions, Marcel is a storyteller and his movements and gestures are his narrative. That's what motion capture can preserve," explained Maria Palazzi, acting director of ACCAD.

The Universe in a Garage

Electric Image and dvGarage have teamed up at NAB to provide free, high-end 3D visual effects training using Universe v3.0. Alex Lindsay, co-founder of dvGarage and former animator with Industrial Light & Magic and JAK Films, will share the secrets of the trade with five training sessions per day from Electric Image's booth in the Sands' convention hall. The sessions will cover everything from rendering tricks to surface techniques for essential realism. They will be free for all NAB attendees (although seating is limited).

Making Eyes

Eyetronics, an Alias|Wavefront Conductor partner, is offering its ShapeSnatcher Suite v3.0 at a reduced price to all new customers of Alias|Wavefront Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited animation software. Under the terms of the promotion, anyone who buys one of the Maya packages or upgrades to a newer version by May 31, 2001, can get the full ShapeSnatcher Suite 3.0 for $3,750—half the regular price. The ShapeSnatcher v3.0 Suite contains ShapeSnatcher v3.0, ShapeMatcher v2.0, ShapeReducer v3.0, and Mapping Tools v2.0. The software runs on Windows, Linux, and SGI IRIX systems.

Squid Supports FBX

Turbo Squid announced the support the Kaydara FBX file format, simplifying the pipeline for digital content creation using Kaydara Filmbox. Designed to provide an authoring hub between major 3D packages, FBX provides a centralized working file format for vendors wishing to acquire, author, and retarget 3D data and animation.

The FBX format supports data structures from Alias|Wavefront Maya, NewTek Lightwave, Discreet 3D Studio Max, and Softimage 3D. When using FBX files within Filmbox, users gain additional character-animation capabilities, such as character mapping. FBX also provides Filmbox users with the ability to re-purpose content for film, TV, games, and the Web.

Abby Albrecht is the Web editor for 3Dgate. She wants to go to a sci-fi con. You can reach her at [email protected].