14 July 2003
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Xara Online, a provider of Web page add-ons, last week released File Protect, a utility that enables non-technical Webmasters or site owners to add password-protected file download to a Website.
The Web-based management of protected files and username/password lists requires no server installation, and works with all Web browsers. Unless a valid username and password is entered site visitors cannot access or download files. File Protect can be used to protect any file type, e.g., Web pages, photos, music, PDF or Word documents. The protected files are served from Xara servers, saving the bandwidth costs. An optional free Excel utility allows editing of the username list directly from the desktop.
New from Winferno Software, a developer of Web browser security software, is Secure IE 2003. The new version provides additional Web browsing security features as well as productivity tools.
Secure IE 2003 also features a new capability that allows for the creation of address bar shortcuts. This feature provides direct access to search engines and Web services via Secure IE's address bar. For example, typing: "go travel" in Secure IE's address bar will start a search for the phrase "travel" using Google. Similarly, "mo Clint Eastwood" will begin a search in the Internet Movie Database for movies featuring Clint Eastwood. Users can customize this feature to search for information by creating up to 1000 of their own shortcuts to their favorite sites.
New productivity features let users mark up Web pages with sticky notes; highlight text; save complete Web pages, including HTTPS pages, as single files; tabbed browsing; and the ability to create workspaces/browsing sessions.
Turbo Squid last week released Kaldera, from Mankua, as the latest offering in the Discreet Certified 3ds max Plug-in program.
The 3ds max plug-in lets users render full-scene information into texture maps based on an object's appearance and relationship between itself and other objects in the scene. These texture maps are then "baked" into the object; that is, they become part of the object via mapping, and can be used to display the textured object rapidly on Direct3D devices such as graphics display cards or game engines.
Coming in August from Montreal-based Kaydara Inc. is Motionbuilder 5 ($995 USD), a new version of the company's real-time 3D character-animation software. Aimed at feature film, series broadcast, television commercial, FX, game and interactive 3D artists, the software promises a real-time photorealistic rendering engine and "smart" character technology (HumanIK).
New features include:
A $3,495 USD Professional Edition version will add support for advanced motion-capture-editing tools, a software development kit (SDK), integration with asset-management systems, and customer support and product development.
Coming next month from Adobe Systems is After Effects 6.0 for Windows and Mac OS X, an upgrade of its motion-graphics and visual-effects software. The new release integrates a new text engine for creating typographic animations, adds OpenGL support and other performance improvements, as well as integrated vector paint, a new motion tracker, keying tools and scripting support.
The new text capabilities let users type, edit and format text directly in the Composition window, providing immediate results. Users can edit and format text from imported Photoshop files and can animate characters, ranges of characters, words, or lines independently within a single text layer.
Performance optimizations including support for OpenGL, a cross-platform standard for accelerating rendering of 2D and 3D graphics, are said to improve the speed and interactivity of on-screen rendering. In addition to improved multiprocessor support and rendering optimizations, After Effects 6.0 Professional edition provides a motion tracker. New vector-paint tools, based on Photoshop technology, let users paint on a layer, retouching footage and creating mattes. The Clone Stamp tool lets users clone across a sequence of frames over time. Pro edition also includes Keylight, keying technology from The Foundry.
Professional edition combines 2D and 3D compositing, animation and effects tools from the Standard edition with features such as motion tracking and stabilization controls; additional keying tools; over 30 additional effects; and render automation using scripting and 16-bit per channel color support. Pro edition also includes third party plug-ins such as 3D Assistants Lite from Digital Anarchy and Zaxwerks Invigorator Classic.
New from Discreet is cleaner XL Service Pack (SP) 1, available for download. The update to the media mastering, encoding and streaming software offers refined parameter control, high-definition MPEG Windows Media 9 presets, and support for MPEG sizes and rates.
Informative Graphics Corp. (IGC), a manufacturer of visualization and Web-collaboration technology, and 3D Compression Technologies Inc. (3DCT), a company providing component technology for 3D-data compression, last week released the $99 ModelPress Web Export plug-in for Rhino, to be distributed and supported by 3DCT. The plug-in adds a menu option inside the Rhino application to publish Rhino models to ModelPress' ISF file format. The ISF format is readable by IGC's free ModelPress Viewer, enabling non-Rhino users to have visual access to the published and rights-protected model designs.
The ModelPress 3D Publishing and Viewing system is designed to simplify the distribution of 3D CAD models to make them more commonplace in downstream business applications. The published Rhino model can be emailed or, optionally, published as an HTML page that can be linked to any existing Web site.
Digital rights that can be applied to the published Rhino model include on-screen copyright banners, predetermined date expiration, and password protection. The exporter also supports disable/enable for specific visualization features, such as the ability to measure or perform cutaways. Using the ModelPress Export for Rhino Plug-In, the publisher can control what is distributed and viewed without exposing the intellectual design data contained in the native Rhino model file.
Download a free trial version at http://www.3dcompress.com/Web/Products/ModelPress-RhinoPlugin.htm.
Digital ArtForms, Inc. will show its new modeling tool, InDex, at Siggraph 2003 in San Diego. InDex, said to be the world's first commercial immersive modeling system, tracks the user's hands rather than using a mouse and keyboard, reportedly letting designers reach into space to shape their objects and position themselves in their 3D scenes.
For a preview of InDex download the Web movie at http://www.digitalartforms.com/transfer/index/IndexLarge.wmv. (30MB Windows Media).
DDD Group plc and SGI say they'll work together to deliver 3D "glasses-free" display solutions that complement Silicon Graphics visualization systems to SGI end users and independent software vendors.
The solutions will be based on DDD's TriDef Visualizer software, which simplifies the integration of 3D LCD and plasma displays with existing OpenGL software applications. The 3D display solutions will be aimed at end users in SGI's five main markets: manufacturing, life sciences, energy, government and defense, and media.
TriDef Visualizer enables an OpenGL app to deliver output suitable for presentation on a 3D display without the need to change the application code.
Actuality Systems, Inc., a developer of spatial 3D visualization technology, has been granted key patents on its spatial 3D technology in both the U.S. and in Taiwan.
The patents (U.S. Patent No. 6,554,430 / Taiwan Letters Patent No. 162199) broadly describe a volumetric three-dimensional display system and specifically cover unique optics for Actuality's Perspecta Display. The patents teach the use of a rotating projection lens for spatial 3D imagery that can be used for a variety of applications.
"The key to getting high image quality is making sure that each two-dimensional slice of the composite 3D image is in crisp focus," said Gregg Favalora, the company's founder and chief technical officer. "With this technology, we've achieved exceptional clarity by using an image projection system with a rotating lens. The design allows us to tightly fold the system's optical path, providing a spatial 3D visualization product that is compact enough to use on a desktop or in confined spaces. This particularly addresses the needs of users in medical and military applications."
The Perspecta Spatial 3D System consists of a 360-degree Perspecta Display with Perspecta platform software, a driver for the OpenGL interface, and the firm's proprietary Spatial Rendering Kernel. An SDK is available to members of the firm's Developer Program. The system lets users render high-resolution spatial images that can be viewed from any angle as the user moves around the display. The display itself illuminates 100 million volume pixels, or "voxels," within a 20-inch transparent dome.
Both new patents are available for licensing.
Discreet says it will sponsor and teach 3ds max and combustion advanced training sessions in partnership with Oregon 3D during Siggraph 2003. The series will run from Monday, July 28 to Wednesday, July 30 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.
Artist Gary M. Davis will instruct courses on Discreet combustion software, used for desktop visual effects, paint, color correction and compositing with integrated workflow for 3ds max.
Courses range from $99 for one course to $599 for the complete series (when registered before July 11th 2003).
Course topics include:
Side Effects Software, developer of Houdini 3D software, will hold a job fair for 3D artists in conjunction with the Houdini Annual Meeting at Siggraph 2003. The meeting will take place from 2-5 PM; the job fair and reception will immediately follow from 5-7 PM in the San Diego Symphony's Copley Symphony Hall at 7th and B Street in downtown San Diego. Attendees will be invited to meet representatives from animation and effects schools and facilities including C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures, Digital Domain, Rhythm & Hues and Sony Pictures Imageworks. Recruiting companies will be accepting materials on site, so artists should bring their reels.
Register at http://www.sidefx.com.
Scheduled for release in December 2003 from Electronic Arts is The Sims Bustin' Out for Game Boy Advance. Currently in development at the company's Walnut Creek-based Maxis studio, the title will let players create a Sim with a unique appearance and personality to control through out the game. Players will also have to satisfy the traditional eight core Sim motives including bladder, comfort, hygiene, and hunger.
Players begin living in a barn and earn their way through locations in SimValley to eventually live in cool cribs, such as a mansion on the hill. Players will be able to unlock over 20 locations such as the Biker Juice Bar and the Ultimate Dance Club. There are eight new career paths for players to pursue including Cliff Diving Instructor to Iron Pizza Chef. Players will be able to unlock a scooter to race around SimValley. Players will meet and play with a cast of over 30 new GBA-exclusive characters to the Game Boy Advance such as Salty Sam and Bucky the Bull Rider. Players also can go to the pet shelter and adopt a dog or cat. New to the Sims is a close-up social interaction screen that will allow players to have conversations with other Sims and establish friendships that will help them advance through levels and complete goals.
Unlike previous The Sims games, players will not purchase items from a catalog, but instead collect over 150 GBA-exclusive objects such as a punching bag, fishing rod, and boom box. players obtain objects by attending auctions, going to stores, or by trading with other characters. Players can trade rare objects by joining in each other's once-a-day auctions if connected to another Game Boy Advance with The Sims Bustin' Out.
The Sims Bustin' Out Game Boy Advance version will support connectivity with The Sims Bustin' Out Nintendo GameCube version. When connected, Game Boy Advance players will unlock a special hidden level for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo GameCube players will unlock a hidden game cabinet that will give their Sims access to mini-games that they can play on their Game Boy Advance to earn extra Simoleons. Players will also be able to download and play their Nintendo GameCube Sim in the Game Boy Advance world and obtain Simoleons, motives, and skills to bring back with them to the Nintendo GameCube version, enabling players to take their Nintendo GameCube Sim with them anywhere.
Just out from Blizzard Entertainment is Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, which provides gamers with a new chapter in the Warcraft saga. In the single-player campaign, players revisit the war-torn world of Azeroth. Several months have passed since Archimonde and the Burning Legion were defeated at the battle of Mount Hyjal, yet a new threat has arisen.
The evil Lich King Ner'zhul has been imprisoned inside the Icecrown glacier, deep within the arctic continent of Northrend. Also, both the Night Elf renegade, Illidan, and the traitorous Death Knight, Arthas, seek the Icecrown glacier and the mysterious powers found inside. To save Azeroth from the forces of darkness, players traverse uncharted lands and battle new enemies while uncovering the schemes of these nefarious beings.
id Software and Activision recently released the second of three unlockable maps for Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War. Titled Safe, the new multiplayer level, developed by Nerve Software, is unlockable via download through Xbox Live.
In Safe, Allied players must work together to blow open a locked safe at the heart of a bombed-out Axis stronghold, secure the secret Axis documents and escape, and then escape to awaiting getaway truck. Lying in wait, the Axis team must mount a fortified defense against the Allied tactics to prevent them from completing their essential objective. Safe can also be played in Elimination, and Stopwatch multiplayer game modes.
Harry Potter fans will be able to experience Harry's first year at Hogwarts with next-generation graphics and updated gameplay in the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone game from Electronic Arts. EA's UK Studio, the team behind the original Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets games, which together have sold over 20 million copies worldwide, joins Warthog Games in developing the title for PlayStation2, Xbox, and GameCube. The game is scheduled for release in the fall of 2003 under the EA Games brand.
The graphics and gameplay for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, previously available for PlayStation, PC, Game Boy Advance, and Game Boy Color, are updated with 3D graphics.
Players take the role of Harry Potter as he arrives for his first year at Hogwarts and embarks on a journey to unravel the mystery of the Sorcerer's Stone. The adventure includes encounters with characters Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, Rubeus Hagrid, Professor Dumbledore, and his nemesis Draco Malfoy.
Summitsoft Corporation says its new title, Endless Ages (from Avaria), is the first massively multiplayer online game to offer no invisible load walls and virtually zero lag. Endless Ages is also the first game of this type to add player vs. player arenas popular among first person shooter fanatics.
In the "seamlessly connected online first person shooter roleplaying game," characters gain experience per hit, not by kill, and can practice the arcane arts of mind control and shapeshifting in addition to piloting, magery, engineering, weapon tech, bartending, and others. The game also features:
IDG World Expo says this week's Macworld CreativePro Conference & Expo will serve as the launching pad for innovative new products designed for the creative community. Taking place July 14-18, 2003 at New York City's Javits Center, the event will feature new products such as:
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- David Duberman
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