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3D DIRECT • June 25, 2001

Eternal Truth of the Week

Notes on the Wind

by Swami Rendsanotsa

The Swami is here, but in the need of a good massage from someone in my harem. Until that happens, the Swami can't seem to focus on much except his tan. So let's see how many companies I can annoy instead.

On the warfront, Alias|Wavefront has allied itself with mental images so the mental ray renderer can be used with Maya. This is happy news for Maya users, but not so happy news for Softimage, who were able to boast near-exclusive access to mental ray's worldclass rendering engine for years. Discreet made lots of noise about licensing mental ray a while ago, and with news of Alias|Wavefront getting access to mental ray, the Softies will have slightly less to brag about. Though it's still true that XSI has the tightest integration with the mental ray engine.

Don't cry over lost friends. It's been over a year since MetaCreations closed shop on its design products. Many of the products are resurfacing just in time for SIGGRAPH. Coincidence? Yeah, and Shrek is "mildly" successful. The real question is, how many people have moved on to other apps? I know one of the products has retained its user base, but the others may not be so lucky—especially if no one can figure out who makes them.

Steals and deals, but for whom? Electric Image has entered a deal with dvGarage. In this arrangement, dvGarage will offer online training courses that "will include Electric Image Animation System version 2.9 for the Macintosh," according to Electric Image. But, wait. Aren't they pushing Universe 3.0 on their Web site? Uh, yeah. But seeing as how Universe is over $1500 more than the cost for the dvGarage class and the upgrade cost, it's definitely a deal. And after they've sucked in a large number of users at this low price, even if they lose some of them by the next version upgrade, they won't be hurting. As long as people bite.

The silver screen may never be the same again. The top five movies for last weekend all included the heavy use of 3D. Don't tell me you thought those were really Vin Deisel's (The Fast and the Furious) arms. All kidding aside, from car chases to ogre baiting, special effects are quickly moving from flash pots and latex make-up to ones and zeroes with X,Y,Z coordinates. Except for a few rare cases, the Industry is in the closet in regards to admitting they use computer effects to heighten ho-hum traditional effects. Just watch Entertainment Tonight, but don't hold your breath waiting for a profile of a 3D artist.

The Swami has to get back to his sheep now. He wishes you'd get your minds out of the gutter.