Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

14 June 2004
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Today's Headlines (details below)

--Softimage Ships New v.4.0
--Turbo Squid Releases gmax Content Packs

--StereoGraphics Announces 20" Glasses-Free 3D Monitor

--3D Palace Offers 3ds max APU/DVD Tutorials
--O'Reilly Releases "Google: The Missing Manual"

--Siggraph Announces Art Gallery
--Partnership Announces Workshop on Web-Enabled Modeling, Simulation

F.Y.I. --About Spectrum



Softimage Ships New v.4.0

Softimage Co. last week released Softimage|XSI version 4.0, the latest version of its nonlinear 3D production environment. The new software reported offers enhancements to character animation and simulation effects, as well as to workflow, including customization, project management, and workgroup capabilities that are tightly integrated with mental ray 3.3. Other features include increased interoperability with Avid editing and asset-management solutions, including expanded AAF/MXF file format support as well as Alienbrain Studio integration, for asset management, and Avid Mojo hardware for direct render-to-video output and previewing.

Also, Softimage|XSI v.4.0 includes Syflex, a cloth simulator. In addition, customers using any configuration of Softimage|XSI v.4.0 can access Digimation content libraries and import more than 30,000 models directly into the software.

Softimage|XSI v.4.0 is available in three configurations:
* Foundation is available for $1,995 USMSRP from the Softimage Web site (www.softimage.com/store) or from authorized Softimage resellers.
* Essentials is available for $3,995 USMSRP from authorized Softimage resellers.
* Advanced is now available for $8,995 USMSRP from authorized Softimage resellers.

Also shipping now is the new Softimage Production Series, a suite of DVD training materials that focuses on real-world production situations.



Turbo Squid Releases gmax Content Packs

Turbo Squid, publisher of the Discreet Certified 3ds max Plug-in Program, has released the first two Turbo Toybox 3D content packs. Each pack contains 30 or more 3D models for gamers to use in customizing games created with Discreet's gmax. The first two products, Starter Toybox and Vehicles Toybox, are now available at $9.95 each.

Turbo Squid recently entered into an agreement with Discreet to propel development and distribution of gmax, a free games customization and modification toolset based on the world's best selling 3D animation platform, Discreet's 3ds max software.

Using gmax, game developers can extend the life of a new game by creating and distributing "game packs" that allow game players to create, customize, and trade game content online. Developers and publishers such as Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Blizzard Entertainment, Westwood Studios and other leading studios have created gmax-enabled games, providing the ability for game consumers to "mod" a game by producing in-game characters, vehicles, and weapons.

Other Toyboxes being released this month include:
* Weapons
* Characters and Animals
* Architecture
* Aircraft

A list of gmax-compatible games can be found at http://www.turbosquid.com/gmax



StereoGraphics Announces 20" Glasses-Free 3D Monitor

StereoGraphics Corporation last week launched the SynthaGram 204 Desktop LCD, a glasses-free 3D monitor. The $4,764 unit is StereoGraphics' mid-range monitor with high resolution (1600 x 1200). It can be used for both desktop and countertop displays such as advertising, retail point of purchase and tradeshow displays.




3D Palace Offers 3ds max APU/DVD Tutorials

Users of 3ds max who are also fans of the Matrix movies might like to know that Cris Robson of 3D Palace has completed a set of detailed tutorials on creating assets from the movies on a two-DVD set. For more info, visit http://www.3d-palace.com/shop_dvd1.php


O'Reilly Releases "Google: The Missing Manual"

"Google: The Missing Manual" (O'Reilly, US $19.95), a new book by Sarah Milstein and Rael Dornfest, provides search tricks and efficiency tools to little-known corners of Google.

Unlike O'Reilly's "Google Hacks," which was written for developers (and included a lot of programming tricks), "Google: The Missing Manual" has explanations, tips, and secrets for end users.

The book explains how to craft a successful search, when to use Google Answers, and how to customize the Google toolbar. It also includes two chapters for Webmasters, revealing how to show up in search results and how to make money with Google.

Chapter 3, "Googling Further: Images, News, and the Directory," is available online at: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/googletmm/chapter/index.html

For more information about the book, including table of contents, index, author bios, and samples, see: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/googletmm/



Siggraph Announces Art Gallery

ACM Siggraph recently announced the content of the Art Gallery for SIGGRAPH 2004, the 31st International Conference on Computer Graphics and Techniques, being held 8 - 12 August at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Named Synaesthesia, the gallery will exhibit work by artists in different areas of digital art, including 2D, 3D, interactive techniques, installations, multimedia, telecommunications, screen-based work, and computer animation. Viewers will be encouraged to see, hear, and touch the art.

In addition to the works of art, the Siggraph 2004 Art Gallery: Synaesthesia will also present a series of critical papers around the theme of synaesthesia. These papers will be presented in round-table discussion format. The presenters will be theorists and artists whose work is being displayed in the gallery.

This year's gallery will present work of three artists who were prize-winners and exhibitors at the prestigious Ars Electronica 2003 (Linz, Austria). A presentation that chronicles the history of Ars Electronica will be held during the opening of the gallery.

Highlights include:

2D/3D Work
* Eric Heller, Transport IX - There is a connection, a feedback from the science to the art and back again. The viewer can project back onto the science behind the image to sense the power and mystery in the world of quantum mechanics and the microscopic chaos which is just under the surface.

2D Pieces Incorporating Sound
* Kerry Andrews, Voice - Computer-generated surface patterns are interspersed with photographs and a sound wave form. In a sense, the sound is meant to give a longer duration to the reading of the image. Conversely, the sound is divided by silences, creating a tension to the duration.
* Adi Hoesle, The appearance of cerebration - The sensory organs, which are stimulated and inspired by art, trigger cerebral activities; they are performing as an artwork themselves. The sum of senses plus awareness results in the true sense. This would be defined as synaesthetic.
* Ernest Edmonds, Broadway One - This work demonstrates the integration of equal elements of music and visuals. This enables the viewer to see the visual display as one instrument in a piece in which other instruments produce sound.

3D Installation Pieces
* Gregory Garvey, Decline & Fall - Auditory component is an aleatory composition establishing a contrasting time and meter and rhythmic pulse. The overall effect is a contemplative one, punctuated by sudden visual and auditory events: collapse of an obelisk, the momentary focus of attention on a resonant drip, radiant light, cast shadow, and the turning on and off of fans.

Sound Pieces
* Marc Bohlen, The Universal Whistling Machine (U.W.M.) - This installation ponders the phenomenon of whistling as a universal mode of communication, common to digital machines, humans, and many animals. Tongue, throat, lips and cheeks funnel air into a pressured cocktail of sound energies that we use to argue, debate, and sing.
* Mary Flanagan, (self) - An audio installation that takes a user's emails and maps the language through analysis of the words the person uses in everyday correspondence. Thus (self) functions as an experimental system which offers a synaesthetic experience based on a persons writing style.

Screen-based Art
* Anthony Head, Metamorphosis - Metamorphosis explores form, space, motion, material, and sound, and how these combine to affect how people perceive and believe what they see. It is the combination of these elements that make up the material of the object. Material defines how the object looks, moves, and feels to the observer.
* Scott Draves, Electric Sheep - Electric Sheep realizes the collective dream of sleeping computers from all over the Internet. It's a distributed screensaver that harnesses idle computers into a render farm with the purpose of animating and evolving artificial lifeforms. The project is an attention vortex. It illustrates the process by which the longer and closer one studies something, the more detail and structure appears.

Art Animation
* Heebok Lee, Voice of Whale - This piece is an abstract visualization of the composition by the American experimental composer, George Crumb, and carries his idea into animation. The music notes are flying underwater and come from a giant shell with a texture of music notes.
* Ruth Jarman, Inaudible Cities - Every detail of an urban landscape is built by the sonic pressures of an oncoming electrical storm. The very fabric of this isolated world is defined by the noises and frequencies that surround a space in another aural dimension.

Art Papers
* Diana Slattery, The Noetic Connection: synaesthesia, Psychedelics, and Language - This paper explores the relationships among synaesthesia, psychedelic experience, and language. The author describes the complexities of creating and performing with the synaesthesia, as a system that provides the means to weave together, in multiple mappings, two or more complex visual, aural, and linguistic systems in live performance.
* Donna Cox, Baking Images with the Taste of Color - Cox will discuss the link between her synaesthetic taste of color as a physical experience and the digital bake-offs in large collaborative visualization projects over the past 21 years. She explores the relationship between technology, visualization, displays, and synaesthesia.
* Round Table: Ars Electronica: 25 years of the digital avant-garde - Since its invention in 1979, Ars Electronica has continued on its strong attention towards the crossovers between Art and Technology. With each annual edition its Festival for Art Technology and Society Ars Electronica in Linz/Austria became more and more an international meeting point for the ever growing community of people interested in digital art; its practice and its theories. The panel will provide not just interesting historical information but also a comprehensive insight into new directions of digital art.



Partnership Announces Workshop on Web-Enabled Modeling, Simulation

The WebSim Partnership -- the Object Management Group (OMG), Open GIS Consortium (OGC), Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization (SISO), and Web3D Consortium -- will join forces to host the "First Workshop on Web Enabled Modeling and Simulation." The four organizations agreed last year to collaborate on open, non-proprietary standards for modeling and simulation (M&S) and related technologies. The workshop will illuminate the current state of the technology and help establish a plan for going forward. The First Workshop on Web Enabled Modeling and Simulation will take place October 12-15, 2004 in the Washington, DC area.

The WebSim Partnership invites workshop presentations on all aspects of M&S in the World Wide Web context. Likely topics include: simulation in the systems engineering process, model driven architecture in the development of M&S capabilities, global grid and utility computing in Web-based simulation; real-time simulation involving sensor data (such as data from the "sensor Webs" that are a topic for standardization in OGC); service architectures for M&S; and challenges faced by the Web-enabled M&S community. Presentations will be published in proceedings and will be the basis of a paper summarizing the workshop results.

The conference organizers seek "Demo Day" participants who will demonstrate on October 14 the current state of Web-based M&S and the supporting Web services infrastructure. In addition to providing live demonstrations, presenters will discuss challenges and opportunities and will provide input to a closing panel discussion on the "way forward."

The Object Management Group (OMG) is an open-membership, not-for-profit consortium that produces and maintains computer-industry specifications for interoperable enterprise applications.

OGC is an international voluntary consensus standards organization of more than 250 companies, government agencies and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geoprocessing interface specifications. OpenGIS Specifications support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT.

The Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization (SISO) focuses on facilitating simulation interoperability and component reuse across the DoD, other government, and non-government applications.

The Web3D Consortium is a member-funded industry consortium committed to the creation and deployment of open, royalty-free standards that enable the communication of real-time 3D across applications, networks, and XML Web services. The Consortium works closely with the ISO, MPEG and W3C standardization bodies to maximize market opportunities for its membership.




About Spectrum

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/online-development tools and end product for review.

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