14 January 2002
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Expected to ship this quarter from Adobe Systems is GoLive 6.0 and Adobe Web Workgroup Server, in one package. GoLive offers site-management and collaboration capabilities, wireless authoring, and support for incorporating print and video content in the Web design cycle.
This new version's features reportedly improve team collaboration and help creative professionals to develop content and deliver assets to different outlets in less time with greater efficiency.
The Web Workgroup Server in GoLive 6.0 is a site-management and collaboration tool that lets multiple users track changes, and share and manage files. It also provides version-control and side-by-side comparison capabilities, including the ability to roll back to previous versions. The Web Workgroup Server supports WebDAV-enabled applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Macromedia Dreamweaver.
New wireless authoring capabilities in GoLive include support for XHTML, CHTML and WML. In the Windows environment, GoLive includes built-in emulators for Nokia WAP and XHTML phones and NTT DoCoMo i-mode phones.
Other new Web development features include a QuickTime 5.0 editing environment with streaming conversion and optimization capabilities. GoLive provides a visual authoring environment utilizing video, audio, SWF, SVG and support for W3C standards like SMIL, which are supported by RealNetworks' RealOne player.
This new version also includes the ability to deliver database-driven content and native support for common dynamic scripting languages, including PHP, ASP, and JSP. These extensive server-side scripting capabilities enable developers to link front-end Web designs with back-end systems for e-commerce solutions.
Also coming this quarter from Adobe is LiveMotion 2.0, the new version of the company's Web-graphics and Flash-animation tool. Features include an enhanced timeline model and full ActionScript support.
The integration of LiveMotion with Adobe's content-creation tools includes converting native, layered Photoshop and Illustrator artwork to animation-ready objects in a single step, while keeping the artwork editable in its native applications. With GoLive 6.0, Web designers can integrate Flash (SWF) and QuickTime content created in LiveMotion into GoLive HTML pages. Users can also import content from After Effects 5.5, apply interactivity and optimize it for Web output.
New from O'Reilly is "The Web Design CD Bookshelf" (US $79.95), billed as an up-to-date, exhaustive reference library on a single CD. Included on the CD are unabridged versions of these titles:
As a bonus, "The Web Design CD Bookshelf" also includes the new paperback version of "Web Design in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition."
Formatted in HTML, "The Web Design CD Bookshelf" can be read by any Web browser. More than 3,000 pages of reference guides and tutorials are searchable and cross-referenced with an index for each book and a master index for the entire collection.
iVAST has contracted with Tribeworks to develop and co-market a set of MPEG-4 authoring tools. Based on the iVAST MPEG-4 Studio SDK and Tribeworks iShell technology, the toolset will enable content developers to combine audio, video, graphics, text, animation and interactivity to create rich media applications. The solution is said to be a key component in the iVAST end-to-end delivery platform that coordinates the creation, delivery and presentation of MPEG-4 applications and services.
MPEG-4 is the latest international standard issued by the ISO/IEC and developed by its Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), the organization that introduced MPEG-1 and MPEG-2. These earlier compression standards serve as the underlying delivery technology for high definition television, digital video broadcasting, direct broadcast by satellite, digital cable television systems, DVDs and interactive CD-ROMs. Building on the success of MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 standards, MPEG-4 enables integrated, interactive, targeted multimedia delivery across any network -- whether broadcast or broadband, wireless or wireline -- and via electronic or physical distribution to any device, from set-top boxes to PCs and personal digital assistants.
The iVAST Platform consists of Studio for encoding and authoring, Application Server for publishing capabilities, Media Server for intelligent streaming, and Player for media playback and interactivity on end user devices.
Tribeworks iShell is a professional rich-media authoring tool, ideal for building custom Internet applications, advanced CD-ROM-Internet hybrids and Internet kiosks. Features include the ability to reuse common interactive elements in an expandable, drag-and-drop, object-oriented environment.
Zero G Software, a provider of Java technology-based, multi-platform software deployment solutions, last week shipped a new version of PowerUpdate, the company's software updating and delivery solution. PowerUpdate 2.0 adds file synchronization capabilities, MSI support, the ability to extract and execute archive files, support for the Mac OS X platform and other enhancements.
PowerUpdate is designed to update any kind of software -- desktop, enterprise, or multi-tiered Web service software -- onto any client or server platform. Using the PowerUpdate Management Portal, developers control the updating process: what will be updated, when and how the updates will be performed, and which end-users will get the update.
Updates can be invoked automatically when the end-user launches an application, or by clicking on a "check for updates" menu item or icon. Each option can be interactive with a Wizard-based GUI or run silently, without any end-user interaction.
PowerUpdate comprises a Web server, database, reporting modules and custom management logic. It's available in two installation configurations: a hosted service, with all update management data stored on Zero G's secure servers, or installed onto the developer's servers.
Coming in February from Alias|Wavefront is the Maya Personal Learning Edition, which will provide users of Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows with unlimited, free access to Maya. The caveats: This is the previous version of the software (we think; it's not clear), and it restricts users to non-commercial applications through the display of a watermark on images as well as through the use of a special non-commercial file format. Moreover, Maya Personal Learning Edition cannot be used with industry-standard plug-ins.
Maya Personal Learning Edition grants users a free seat of Maya for non-commercial use - registration renewable yearly. Those using the Personal Learning Edition will have full access to the toolsets of Maya Complete including NURBS modeling, animation, inverse kinematics, Maya Artisan, Maya Paint Effects, particles, dynamics and rendering.
An associated Web-based user center, sponsored by A|W, will provide access to learning materials, discussion forums, content exchanges where users can share work and galleries in which users can exhibit their projects.
Coming soon from Discreet is cleaner 5.1 software for Mac OS X. The software is used for creating streaming video and audio for multimedia and the Web through transcoding of content for digital media formats. This release will include support for Sorenson Video 3 Professional for QuickTime content, along with capabilities for transcoding digital content for DVD authoring, MP3 audio, and other streaming-media formats.
Just out from Digimation is Lume Tools Collection 1, first in a series of natural-effects shader plug-ins for 3ds max. Originally developed for the Softimage platform in conjunction with the artist and animators of Cyan, Inc., for use in Riven, the sequel to the hit CD-ROM game Myst, the Lume Tools Collection provides realistic natural effects for real-world 3D productions.
Collection 1 includes ocean, water, wet, submerge, and landscape shaders. Used in concert or independently, they can produce animated bodies of water with correct reflective and refractive qualities both above and below the surface. The landscape shader lets users control how their land masses are rendered from a material standpoint. The stain shader permits use of the intersection between a stain object and another object to define a new material on the non-stain object. This lets the user create wet and dry areas on a single object.
Belgium's Eyetronics last week released ShapeCam, a new hand-held system said to make 3D object capture almost as easy as taking snapshots with a digital camera.
ShapeCam includes a digital camera and a flash device mounted on a lightweight frame. It allows users to freely move around objects of almost any size, automatically capturing 3D geometry and textures by taking pictures. Photos captured with the portable hardware are processed and assembled in 3D within Eyetronics' ShapeSnatcher Suite software. The process produces 3D digital models that approximate the shape, colors and textures of the original object or person.
To set the distance between camera and object, the user aims the camera until two laser points converge as one. At the same time the picture is taken, the flash projects a grid onto the object, providing the information the software needs to create a 3D image. Users can take as many pictures as needed to capture the parts of the object or person they want to digitally recreate.
ShapeCam can capture 3D models of different-sized objects, ranging from a small coin to life-size statues or a complete human body. The flash system is set up by adjusting the zoom and focus of the camera and flash lenses.
Pictures from ShapeCam are brought into a computer, where Eyetronics' ShapeSnatcher Suite software calculates parameters, generates 3D models from the 2D images, and stitches the different models together into a completed model. For digital content creation applications, ShapeSnatcher SuiteXT provides additional tools to export alternative texture maps for captured models, and to reduce polygons for more efficient processing. For design and reverse engineering applications, ShapeSnatcher SuiteCAD adds polygon-reduction and surface-thickening tools.
A bundled product called Eyetronics ShapeWare, which includes the ShapeCam and either ShapeSnatcher SuiteXT or ShapeSnatcher SuiteCAD software, is available for $18,250 or 19,125 euros. The software runs on most PCs using Windows or Linux, as well as on SGI IRIX systems. ShapeSnatcher supports popular 3D animation and CAD software packages, as well as standard graphics import and export formats.
Coming at the end of January from Jasc Software, Inc. is Jasc WebDraw, a new SVG graphics and animation authoring tool. The software provides an integrated set of graphics design, animation, and source code editing tools for SVG design and development.
Recently approved as a W3C Recommendation, SVG is a specification for adding high-impact, XML-based vector graphics and animation to Web pages. SVG features small file sizes for faster Web page downloads, unlimited color and font choices, precision layout and design options, animation and high-resolution printing from a Web browser. With image effects ranging from simple blurs to event-based animation, SVG allows users to create Web graphics and animations that are rich in visual content and download quickly.
Just out from Adobe is Adobe After Effects 5.5, its motion-graphics and visual-effects software. New features include native support for Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows XP, and optimization for the Intel Pentium 4 processor. Zaxwerks 3D Invigorator Classic is included with the After Effects 5.5 Production Bundle and Standard to Production Bundle upgrade, allowing users to turn 2D artwork into 3D elements without leaving the After Effects environment.
Other new features are real media output, 3D camera data import from Alias|Wavefront Maya and 3ds Max and additional 16-bit per channel color file support including Maya IFF, RPF and QuickTime. Additional information on the new features in After Effects 5.5 is available on the Adobe Web site at www.adobe.com/aftereffects.
Montreal-based MindAvenue last week launched its LightWave 3D Importer for AXELedge 1.5 for Mac and PC. LightWave designers can import all content directly into Axel, a Web authoring solution that requires no programming. AXELedge offers interaction capabilities, as well as animation, modeling, relations and constraints, previewing and publishing features using drag-and-drop methods for interactive 3D Web content creation.
Features of AXELedge 1.5 for Mac include:
Vancouver, BC-based Credo Interactive recently announced a new motion capture conversion service. The service will convert customers' existing motion capture libraries to their Maya target skeletons. Credo says it might add other formats based on the needs of its client base.
Advanced Rendering Technology (ART) has delivered three of its RenderDrive RD5000 3D rendering appliances to the Korean Culture and Contents Agency for inclusion in the "Korea Cultural Contents Promotion Center" established by the agency in Seoul in July 2001. The systems were purchased by the agency through Korea Visual Co. Ltd., ART's reseller in Korea.
The Korean Culture and Contents Agency, affiliated with the Korean Government's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, is briefed to develop the multimedia industry through financial and practical support for the animation, game development, movie, sound and image industries in Korea. From the initial multimedia center in Seoul, the agency intends to establish similar centers in each regional province.
The Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism recently announced that it would be working to develop the cultural contents industry by injecting a total of 350 billion won ($269.23 million) into the industry during 2002. The move is designed to give a big boost to the cultural content fields, including 3D animation.
The center will concentrate its financial resources on the development of content that emphasizes Korea's cultural identity. The effort is also expected to lead to the creation of an archive of cultural content.
Germany's Dosch Design, has launched its fifth product line: Dosch Images, for use in architectural visualization (commercial or residential objects), catalog design, and other advertising or presentations in which people and trees can be used to "add life" and help to demonstrate the relevant dimensions and proportions. The first four Dosch Images products are People (Business; Private Life; Shopping & Travel) and Trees. They can either be directly incorporated into 3D scenes, or added in the finished rendering later on with software like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro.
The clip-maps can be used with the 2D software packages mentioned above, plus CorelDraw, PageMaker, and 3D and CAD platforms like 3ds max/Autodesk VIZ, LightWave, Cinema4D, Maja, AllplanFT, and VectorWorks.The clip-maps are "cut-outs" that blend into their respective background and surrounding. Each Targa-format picture includes an alpha channel.
Overall there are 256 people clip-maps and 400 depictions of trees. Some trees are even provided in an aerial view for use in maps and construction plans.
The back-cover blurb on the new book Macromedia Flash Super Samurai, from Peachpit Press imprint Macromedia Press, starts, "If you're a beginning … Flash user, you can stop reading right here." Yes, this book is targeted at advanced users, and has the writing roster to prove it. Eleven of the "world's top Flash developers" show readers how to (among others) use ActionScript to create lifelike movement, simulate 3D shape, motion, and real-world physics, employ Flash's Sound object to add aural richness to projects, and use widgets for subtle interface effects. In keeping with its advanced nature, the writing offers more in the way of general guidance than specific directions, plus lots of ActionScript source code. The accompanying CD contains the book's source files, plus trial versions of Flash 5 and Swift 3D 2.
Artists working with Maya 4 3D software at the intermediate to advanced level should take a look at Peachpit's new book Exploring Maya 4: 30 Studies in 3D. In the relatively slim 182 pages, author Maximilian Schonherr offers step-by-step procedures for effects such as coiling a cable around a spool and building a car fender with NURBS. Nicely fleshed out with color illustrations, the book also includes a CD with scene data from each chapter, rendered movies, plug-ins, and a trial version of Maya 3.
FireWire Filmmaking is the first book we've seen that comes with a DVD-ROM, rather than a CD, marking further establishment of the not-so-young format as a coming standard. Actually, it's a hybrid DVD-ROM/DVD-Video "disk," as indicated on the plastic, so you can use either a computer or a DVD player to view its showcase of "today's pioneering digital filmmaker's." It also provides trial versions of six FireWire apps and Web links to FireWire manufacturers. Author Scott Smith, a filmmaker and animator, provides a solid overview of the digital way of making movies, covering such topics as cameras and shooting techniques, lighting, interfacing, and editing. If you're new to the world of DV, you'll find this book most informative.
If you're hip to QuickTime, you probably know about LiveStage, the QT authoring tool from Totally Hip Software. Those who're having trouble coming to grips with the software should also be aware of Martin Sitter's new Visual Quickstart Guide to LiveStage Professional 3. As with all the VQS guides, the book is a straightforward run-through of the entire user interface with concise, step-by-step directions for every aspect of LiveStage's usage. It also includes short explanations of necessary concepts such as registration points and child movies. Read this book and totally grok QuickTime authoring!
Activision, Inc. will bring its high-octane rally racer, Race of Champions, to the Nintendo GameCube this fall. Based on the Michelin Race of Champions, held annually in the Canary Islands, the game challenges players to master road, desert and mountain tracks on their quest for the cup.
Features from developer Climax include detailed visuals, real-time damage modeling, and dirt effects. Players can select a vehicle from makes and models such as Mitsubishi, Toyota, Ford, Lancia, Peugeot, Audi, Porsche, Citroen and Seat as they race against France's Didier Auriol, Germany's Armin Schwartz, Finland's Tomi Makkinen, and others.
Coming next week from Electronic Arts is Sid Meier's SimGolf, is a PC game that puts players in charge of their own golf resort. As course designer, CEO and resident pro, the player is challenged to grow a business from a small, public pitch-and-putt to a five-star resort complete with world-class golf holes, professional tournaments and luxury accommodations.
Players can create beautiful, challenging and extreme golf courses in different environments that include desert, tropics, woodlands, and Scottish links. Players can entice the rich and famous to build homes on their courses and marvel as famous "Sim-lebrities" move into homes on their resorts. Advanced gameplay includes tuning the skills of your golf professional, hosting and playing in major tournaments, customizing Sim golfers and dabbling in their personal lives. Players will be able to share courses, stories, customized golfers and snapshots of their greatest golf moments with other SimGolf players from around the world at http://simgolf.ea.com.
Also, this spring EA will release The Sims Vacation, a new add-on disk to the hit title The Sims. Players can help their Sims escape the grind of their everyday lives by sending them to a new, customizable island destination that offers a snowy alpine setting, a Riviera-style beach and a forest campground. Beach volleyball, snowboarding, fishing or hunting for hidden treasure are some of the things that Sims can do at this unique resort location. All-new social interactions and over 120 new objects will keep Sim vacationers (and, one hopes, users of the software) entertained from dusk until dawn.
A comical cast of characters is available to cater to the Sims during their island-getaway. The wacky resort staff is there day and night to see to the Sims' every need. A troupe of costumed performers is also on hand to entertain the kids. But beware of the Pickpocket, who may relieve them of some of their vacation cash. Errant children or a pilfered purse can bring a premature end to the Sims' island stay.
A Sim vacation would not be complete without that special dust-collector to remind them of the whole experience. Souvenirs of all types can be bought, caught, won and collected. Sims can buy a coconut monkey in one of the gift shops, win a stuffed penguin at a carnival game, collect arrowheads and lava idols or catch an aggravating case of poison ivy or Montezuma's revenge.
Sega of America last week released Rez, a music-enhanced action-shooter for PlayStation2. Created by developer Tetsuya Mizuguchi, known for Space Channel 5 and Sega Rally, Rez invites gamers into a vast computer network plagued by viruses and firewalls with seemingly impossible codes. The goal of the game is to revive Eden, an advanced life form, from her information overload-induced coma. Players must hack the code by locking on and shooting an array of firewalls and viruses in a dreamlike network environment.
The audio experience is at the heart of the Rez shooting action. Featuring a variety of music and beats, including techno, trance and deep house, Rez triggers different sounds as players shoot targets, supplementing the track playing in that stage. These beats and grooves vary depending on the target. Players can also affect the song's tempo by shooting quickly or slowly, allowing gamers to add their own thumbprint to the musical track being played.
Each of the game's stages has its own artistic style or theme, such as Asian or Egyptian. By mastering the game, gamers can unlock extra features and modes, thus extending the replay value. For example, access can be gained to additional modes including Score Attack, Beyond Mode, Boss Rush and Trance Mission.
Encore, Inc., developer of Jackie Chan Adventures (GBA) and other titles, has signed an agreement with Dragon's Lair LLC to publish a new 3D game based on the Dragon's Lair franchise. Slated for release in Q3 2002 for PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube, Dragon's Lair 3D will offer new characters, more than 200 new rooms to explore, special visual and sound effects, and an original music score.
The team of creators includes:
Sony Computer Entertainment America sold close to three million PlayStation 2 computer entertainment systems during November and December 2001, according to internal sales data. During this period, which was the launch timeframe for two new market entries, the company's PlayStation 2 holiday sales exceeded the total combined shipment numbers reported by its competitors.
Specifically, more than 988,700 PlayStation 2 computer entertainment systems were sold during November 2001 and nearly two million additional units during December 2001. The company posted sales of more than 640,000 consoles during Christmas week alone, which helped drive December sales up more than 243 percent over the same period in 2000. These sales boosted the cumulative PlayStation 2 installed base to about eight million units in North America since its debut 14 months ago.
Software titles topping the charts for PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system include: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty from Konami; Devil May Cry from Capcom; Grand Theft Auto 3 from Rockstar Games; Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 from Activision; Madden NFL 2002 from EA Sports; WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It from THQ; and Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec and Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy from Sony.
Final Fantasy X, the next installment of the hit franchise from Squaresoft, was released December 18, capturing the number-one position at retail outlets.
The original PlayStation game console posted sales of almost 1.1 million units for the November 1 through December 31 timeframe. Year-end sales bring the cumulative PlayStation installed base to 31.8 million units in North America. As a result a PlayStation is now found in one out of every three U.S. households.
Activision says it has shipped more than one million units of Return to Castle Wolfenstein worldwide. The action game has remained the top selling premium-priced PC title in the U.S. since its launch on November 20, 2001, according to NPD Intelect. In addition to the U.S. sales, Return to Castle Wolfenstein topped sell-through charts in two of the largest European territories: the United Kingdom and Germany.
According to Chart-Track, Return to Castle Wolfenstein was the #3 best-selling PC title by units in the United Kingdom for the month of December and in Germany, the title was ranked as the #3 best-selling PC game for week 52, according to Media Control Charts.
The game was developed by Gray Matter Interactive Studios and Nerve Software and executive-produced by id Software. Gray Matter Interactive Studios is an L.A.-based game developer founded by the designers formerly from Xatrix Entertainment, the developer of such games as Redneck Rampage and Kingpin. Co-founded by ex-id Software designer Brandon James, and veteran designer Chris Cummings, Texas-based Nerve Software developed the multiplayer component of Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
CMP Media's Game Developers Conference (GDC), March 19-23, 2002 in San Jose, Calif., will offer an expanded wireless and mobile games curriculum, including for the first time a Wireless Game Summit hosted by wireless communications expert Andrew Seybold.
Seybold and fellow wireless industry veteran Barney Dewey will lead the day-long seminar, which will bring together leaders from the wireless game market segment to discuss development trends, platforms, language standards, distribution and business models.
In addition to the Wireless Game Summit, the GDC has lined up a series of tutorials, presentations and roundtables led by PacketVideo, Digital Bridges, Unplugged Games and Kuju Entertainment. The sessions will cover all aspects of wireless game development, including: "Wireless Game Design," "Mobile Game Business Models" and "Similarities Between Massively Multiplayer and WAP Games."
Wireless development issues will be addressed throughout the conference's seven overall tracks: visual arts, audio, business and legal, game design, programming, level design and production.
"Revenue for the wireless gaming market is projected to increase to billions in the coming years," said Alan Yu, director, Game Developers Conference.
Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review.
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