16 July 2001
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Ulead Systems last week released Ulead Animation.Applet 2.0, a new version of the Web animation tool, and Ulead Menu.Applet 1.0, a new application for creating menus for Web sites.
Animation.Applet lets users customize up to 39 effects, including an expanded variety of banner effects and new effects such as lightning, snow and explosion. Its tab-based interface provides Compose and Preview modes as well as timeline control, which lets set animation duration as well as start and end points or infinite looping of an animation sequence. Interactive options include setting hyperlinks in an animation to help visitors navigate through a site or creating mouseover responses for various image and text elements.
Menu.Applet adds slider and pop-up menus into Web projects using a tab-based interface with drag-and-drop control of items. It also provides ways to manage, organize and view menus and sub-menus.
Macromedia says it is working with Intel Corporation to optimize the Macromedia Flash Player for the Intel XScale microarchitecture utilizing the Intel Integrated Performance Primitives (IPP). As a result of this collaboration, users will be able to experience MP3 audio when playing Macromedia Flash content on devices built using Intel applications processors. The optimized code will be available to device manufacturers for use with the Macromedia Flash Player Software Development Kit (SDK) later this year.
The Intel IPP includes optimized assembly language code said to increase the audio and video performance of Macromedia Flash content on mobile devices. More information about the Macromedia Flash Player SDK is available at http://www.macromedia.com/software/flashplayer/licensing/sourcecode.
Criterion Software says it will support the Open Contents Platform Association (OCPA), a consortium initiated by Japanese consumer electronics companies aimed at creating a standard software platform for developing multimedia content across a range of networked digital appliances such as smart phones, PDAs, Web pads, digital televisions and digital cameras. Criterion will adapt its RenderWare Graphics for the platform.
The OCPA will provide a place for open discussion among content providers, application service providers and hardware manufacturers, regardless of their business fields. The founding members of the OCPA are JVC, Sharp, Kyocera and the Tao Group with additional consumer electronics manufacturers as well as content providers and software tools vendors set to announce their endorsements. Members can present proposals for new specifications, which will then be evaluated by working groups within the Association, before their acceptance as standards, which will then be openly published.
The OCPA will also support verification of Open Platform applications and contents, and will perform promotional activities, such as seminars and exhibitions in order to promote the OCPA specified platform standard.
The need for intrusion protection against unapproved PC and network access, as well as a greater need for virus and privacy protection, will fuel end user demand for broadband Internet security products for the home over the next few years, according to Cahners In-Stat Group (http://www.instat.com). The high-tech market research firm projects that, driven, in large part, by strong sales in the firewall category, the consumer broadband security market will grow from $74 million in 2000 to over $800 million by the end of 2005.
"Consumers today are just now beginning to accept the benefits of always-on, high-speed Internet access as availability of these services reach beyond the initial adopters," Says Jaclynn Bumback, Research Analyst for In- Stat's Enterprise and Residential Communications group.
Based on a survey of over 1,000 U.S. households, In-Stat found that of those consumers who do have a broadband connection today, 50% are without any form of intrusion protection such as a basic software or hardware firewall.
"As broadband penetration approaches critical mass, the fact that half of these consumers are still fully exposed to the dangers of always-on Internet connectivity is amazing," Says Mike Wolf, Director of Enterprise and Residential Communications at In-Stat. "In time, we believe that intrusion protection will become a requirement as consumers become better educated about the need for Internet security."
In-Stat has also found that:
The $3,000 report, "Safe and Sound: Consumer Broadband Security Market", (#RC0107HN), covers the technologies and trends driving the consumer Internet security market. Forecasts for firewalls, anti-virus protection, and privacy/content filtering products are provided through 2005, as well as profiles of the major players.
Clickability Inc., a provider of Web-based interactivity tools for online publishers, recently launched Clickability Interactivity Reports, its online reporting system. The reports present online publishers with information regarding the way readers interact with content.
Clickability’s reporting system can be used as an editorial tool to help online publishers tailor content to improve interactivity and traffic and to identify the content that generates the most new visitors. By quantifying the viral nature of site content, publishers identify the articles that translate into the most effective marketing vehicles for an online publication.
Just out from Interactive Solutions, Inc. is MovieWorks Deluxe 5.1. The $149 suite of five multimedia tools lets Windows and Macintosh users produce Web movies in QuickTime or AVI format, interactive CD-ROM titles and portfolios, videos, slide shows and multimedia presentations. It incorporates simple video, sound, animation, paint, and
image editing tools, plus a time-based, object-oriented sequencing and authoring program.
New features in version 5.1 include auto-load/auto-start when distributed on CD, and the ability to link to Web pages and PDF documents. The Windows version also now includes the QuickTime effects library, adding over 150 new transitions, plus unrendered scrolling text. These features were already available in the Macintosh version.
Total Multimedia Inc. has established a joint Web site with Digital Focus Media Inc. (DFMI) to show video clips compressed with a new fractal-based codec.
The resolution-independent fractal algorithms, which are at the base of the new DFMI codec, let the user the ability decompress digital video data at resolutions and color depths both higher and lower than the original capture. In a Web site the same file could serve as both the thumbnail and the full screen version. Viewers can watch, pause and stop programs at their will, and continue to watch the presentation without missing any of the action.
ACM SIGGRAPH last week announced the Art Gallery: N-Space exhibition for SIGGRAPH 2001, the 28th International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, being held 12 - 17 August at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, California. The exhibition includes over 90 works of art with an even distribution of interactive installations, digital paintings, digital images, sculptures, performances, panel discussions, animation, artist talks, Web sites, and interactive desktop programs -- all of which are created with or connected to digital technology.
A few highlights from the SIGGRAPH 2001 Art Gallery: N-Space exhibition include:
For more information on work in the SIGGRAPH 2001 Art Gallery: N-Space exhibition, see http://www.siggraph.org/s2001.
Digital Element, an Oakland, CA-based software engineering firm specializing in 3D graphics technologies, is making a Standard version of its landscape creation and animation software, World Builder 3.0, available for $399, a 60% discount from the Professional edition ($999). World Builder 3.0 Standard will feature almost all of the functionality offered in the Professional version, including a newly introduced plug-in and support for characters created using Curious Labs’ Poser.
World Builder, first published in 1995, is used by film and television animators, video game designers, Web developers, architects and landscape designers to create realistic, animated 3D landscapes and scenery.
The newly introduced Standard version is nearly identical to the Professional edition, except that the Professional version contains a plug-in for Discreet 3ds max and supports network rendering.
Both the previously released Professional version and the new Standard version of World Builder 3.0 include several new features:
Side Effects Software has entered into a strategic alliance with mental images to add support to Houdini 5 for the mental ray renderer. The new output driver will be demonstrated at Side Effects's annual Houdini User Group Meeting at SIGGRAPH 2001 on August 12. The companies are currently beta testing the solution, which will be available commercially when Houdini 5 is released.
Houdini is a 3D animation software package with features such as modeling, animating, compositing, characters, textures, shading and rendering. It has been used to create visual sequences in feature films including Mummy Returns, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, X-Men, Hollow Man and The Matrix.
Credo Interactive is developing a plug-in that will let users export Maya skeletons into Life Forms Studio 3.9. Maya users can use Life Forms's toolset to edit and warp motion capture data, re-target animation, and export the resulting motion data from Life Forms to Maya.
With the rapid changes in media technology and market demands, common specifications are essential to create interoperability between platforms, hardware devices, and software applications. The previous lack of integration of multi-vendor software and hardware products has proven to be an obstruction to the acceptance of computer-based digital tools for professional content creation, and the formation of the Khronos SIG at NAB 2000 marked a move by its founding member companies to create and support the desired integration. Current “Promoting” member level companies supporting the group’s activities are 3Dlabs, ATI, Discreet, Evans & Sutherland, Intel, NVIDIA, SGI and Sun Microsystems.
OpenML is complementary to the ubiquitous OpenGL standard, and is designed to let digital content authoring application developers more easily integrate video, audio and graphics capabilities into their application suites, and makes these applications more portable over multiple operating systems, CPU architectures and add-in hardware devices.
At Siggraph, the Khronos group expects to announce that they will:
make the specification publicly available for the first time
announce the first OpenML Embedded Track meetings to create small-footprint APIs that will bring dynamic media capabilities to a wide variety of appliances and embedded devices such as advanced digital TVs, set top boxes and game consoles.
enable open membership at the Contributor Level, so any company can participate in the further development of these important specifications.
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. last week released Gran Turismo 3 A-spec, the latest installment of the racing series. The title immerses players in realistic environments including special effects like blinding sun glare, shimmering heat rays rising off the tarmac and real-time reflections on the cars. Other features include:
Dragon's Lair 3-D is set to debut at Classic Gaming Expo 2001. Based on the 1983 Dragon's Lair arcade game, Dragon's Lair 3-D is the first product of new company Dragon's Lair LLC, formed by the creators of the original.
"With our current 3-D technology, we can give the player complete control over Dirk, with the ability to fully explore the castle in his quest to rescue the princess," states Rick Dyer, one of the creators of the original Dragon's Lair game. "In Dragon’s Lair 3-D we take the player on an adventurous trek via a technically innovative 3-D game."
Dyer and fellow Dragon's Lair creator John Pomeroy plan to be on hand to demonstrate the game at Classic Gaming Expo. Pomeroy, a veteran animator at Disney, also plans to show some of his latest accomplishments including his work from the hit movie Atlantis, as well as the upcoming film, Treasure Planet.
Additionally, Pomeroy and Dyer have donated two autographed animation cells, one from Atlantis and one from the original Dragon's Lair, as prizes for Classic Gaming Expo. The cells, which are valued at over one thousand dollars each, will be given away during the show. The Dragon's Lair 3-D preview and video presentations are scheduled to take place at 1pm. on Saturday, August 11th in the Classic Gaming Expo Keynote Room.
For more information visit: http://www.cgexpo.com or send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhode Island Soft Systems last week released Jixxa 2.0, a new version of its CD-ROM jigsaw puzzle game. Jixxa 2.0 offers four new puzzle collections and a new features including:
Features from the original edition include a hint and auto-solve function, a challenge timer, up to nine boxes for sorting pieces, and rotating pieces. The four new jigsaw puzzle collections are: Manmade Patterns, Call of the Wild, Landmarks and Monuments, and Variety. Additionally, the earlier Jixxa collections (Premier Edition, World Travel Edition, Challenging Puzzles and Animal Lover's Edition) have been updated to the Jixxa 2.0 specifications, offering a total of eight puzzles.
Pricing is $30 per puzzle, with quantity discounts available.
Gaming firm Acclaim Entertainment has appointed Dr. David J. Sturman to the position of chief technology officer. Reporting directly to John Ma, Executive Vice President of Product Development, Sturman will be responsible for developing new technology standards for Acclaim's internal studios. In addition, he will spearhead the ongoing development of proprietary game engines and tools for the next-generation gaming platforms, and identify new technologies that add value and quality to the company's product lineup.
Dr. Sturman joins Acclaim with more than 20 years of experience, having held research and development positions with TheStreet.com, MaMaMedia, Inc., Medialab Paris, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, New York Institute of Technology and Bell Telephone Laboratories. He comes to Acclaim from TheStreet.com, where he oversaw the development of software for online content, services and products. Prior to TheStreet.com, Sturman was vice president of technology for MaMaMedia, a site for kids 12 and under. Sturman joined MaMaMedia early in their history and was responsible for all technical strategy, planning, research and development, including IT, network services, application architecture, development and production, quality assurance and traffic analysis. At Paris Medialab, he held the title of director of research and development and was involved in the hands-on development of real-time character animation systems and research of emerging technologies. Earlier in his career, he also held positions with New York Institute of Technology Computer Graphics Laboratory and Bell Telephone Laboratories.
As a writer, Sturman has been published in such publications as Animation Magazine, Computer Graphics, IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications and The Visual Computer: International Journal of Computer Graphics. In addition, he has been a guest lecturer at events such as SIGGRAPH, Munich-Cyberspace-Symposium, Forum International des Nouvelles Images de Monte Carlo: Imagina and Graphics Interface.
Sturman holds a Ph.D. in Computer Graphics and Animation from the MIT Media Lab, an M.S. degree in Computer Science from Rutgers University, and an S.B. degree in Computer Science from MIT.
Kevin Bachus, a 20-year veteran of the game development industry, has joined interactive online entertainment firm WildTangent as senior director of marketing. At Microsoft, Bachus was one of the original group who came up with the Xbox idea and received management buy-off for the cutting-edge game console.
Before starting the Xbox project, Bachus was the group product manager for DirectX for two years. In this role he was responsible for promoting Windows as an entertainment vehicle and touting DirectX as the primary choice for games and multimedia developers (kind of what his new boss, Alex St. John, did when *he* was at Microsoft). During his time in this group he listened to what the developers wanted and oversaw the launches of versions 5 to 7 of DirectX. As part of that work, he was instrumental in developing the concept that eventually became Xbox.
Prior to joining Microsoft, Bachus served in a number of product development, business development and marketing functions at Mindscape, Inc., including the management of U.S. operations for the company's European development studios. Before he started his career in computer games, Bachus was an editor at Ziff-Davis, taking part in the launch of Corporate Computing magazine. He also wrote for a number of other publications, including PC Magazine and Windows Sources, and worked as an editor on PC/Computing magazine.
Bachus is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Film & Television, and worked in the film industry for a number of years before turning to technology.
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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