29 May 2000
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Macromedia and Nokia last week announced public beta availability of the Nokia WML Studio for Macromedia Dreamweaver, designed for authoring Wireless Markup Language (WML) content for delivery to millions of Nokia wireless devices.
The product lets developers visually author WML content with drag-and-drop objects, and provides a preview of how WML content will appear on Nokia 7100 Series WAP-enabled phones. Without this solution, WML content is typically authored in text editors. These objects will let developers create new WML decks and cards, insert images, modify text, and implement anchors and styles within Macromedia Dreamweaver. The studio also includes a Macromedia Fireworks Xtra that provides the ability to create image files for Nokia wireless devices.
Macromedia and Nokia are both members of the WAP Forum, the industry association that created the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) specification.
For more information about WAP, see http://www.wapforum.com.
A free beta of the product is available at http://exchange.macromedia.com.
Just out from Sausage Software is HotDog Professional 6. New features include:
Blue World Communications last week released Lasso XML Developer Kit, a free development kit providing documentation, examples and templates on how to generate XML (Extensible Markup Language) data using Lasso for both instant and custom Web Publishing. Also, Instant WML Publishing allow access to data retrieved from wireless devices via Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) and Wireless Markup Language (WML). Lasso XML Developer Kit also provides support for XML implementations in database products such as FileMaker, Inc. FileMaker Pro 5 and Microsoft SQL Server 2000.
Lasso XML Developer Kit provides Lasso format files which automatically convert data retrieved from any Lasso compatible database into XML for display in or data interchange with XML compatible browsers or XML based systems. For example, formatting Lasso data into XML facilitates interoperability with enterprise systems which utilize custom or industry specified XML standards for data interchange. Lasso XML Developer Kit provides support for the XML DTDs (Document Type Definition) and XML Schemas specified in FileMaker Pro 5 and SQL Server 2000 easing the process integration with or migration from these systems. It also lets developers specify customized XML DTDs and XML Schemas, allowing interoperability with any implementation based upon XML.
According to DigiScents, Inc., a developer of digital scent technology, over 200 game developers have applied on the company's Web site for its ScentWare Developers Program and SDK. The SDK, which the company launched at the Game Developers Conference in March 2000, gives developers the tools to incorporate smell into their games.
Coming in the second half of this year from RealNetworks, Inc. is RealSystem 8, incorporating RealVideo 8. According to RealNetworks, independent testing found that, at mainstream broadband rates, more than 70% of viewers surveyed found RealVideo 8 to be as good as or superior to VHS quality, and 92% of viewers preferred RealVideo 8 to the competing offering from a "leading operating system provider." (Hmm … would that be Red Hat? -ed.)
New features include:
A beta of RealProducer 8, the encoding platform, and a preview of RealServer 8, the media delivery server, are available from http://www.realnetworks.com.
Tiny Software Inc.last week introduced its $29 Personal Firewall v1.0 based on the ICSA-certified WinRoute Pro security technology. Personal Firewall is designed to prevent unauthorized access and offers security for computers and personal files.
Compatible with Windows 95, 98, 2000 and NT 4.0, Personal Firewall lets users choose form low, normal, high or maximum-security settings. It can also allow different configurations of the security setting for any additional client systems on the network.
In addition, the Personal Firewall has the ability to log packets coming into its network. When packets attempt to enter the network, menus are displayed prompting the user to accept or deny the packet.
ACM Siggraph has announced the content of the Emerging Technologies: Point of Departure venue for Siggraph 2000, the 27th International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, being held 23 - 28 July 2000, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, Louisiana. The Emerging Technologies program, called Point of Departure this year, showcases visionary, creative, and provocative interactive installations. One of the highlights of this venue is new research in display technologies. This research enables the viewing of 3D objects without special glasses or other intrusive devices.
The display technologies research that can be experienced in the Emerging Technologies: Point of Departure are:
HoloSpace Emilio Camahort University of Texas at Austin - Enter the space of digital holograms, the display medium for the new century. The HoloSpace contains research examples of future applications of digital holograms: collaborative design and engineering examples, advertising and commercial applications, and 3D portraits that require no goggles or intrusive devices, and even allow the subject to move.
HoloSpace demonstrates full-color, full-parallax holographic stereograms with a horizontal field of view of 110 degrees and a vertical field of view of 98 degrees. They are as large as 3 meters x 1.2 meters and as deep as 1.2 meters. Viewers look at them from different vantage points: above, below, and inside. Are these 3D displays containing 4D data, or is it the other way around?
Autostereoscopic Display for an Unconstrained Observer Ken Perlin New York University - Observers can freely change position, rotate their heads, and maintain a true stereoscopic view without using special eyewear. Since no fixed parallax barrier geometry could accommodate arbitrary observer position and orientation, the system creates a dynamically varying parallax barrier that continually changes the width and positions of its stripes as the observer moves. Large stripes would be easily seen by the unaided eye, so the system rapidly animates them in a lateral direction. Each stripe is composed from some number of very slender microstripes, each of which is a switchable LCD element. The result: a stereoscopic display that is continually exact for one moving user, as long as their eye position is tracked.
Autostereoscopic 3D Workbench Hideki Kakeya ATR Media Integration & Communications Research Laboratories - In this reality-enhanced autostereoscopic 3D workbench, viewers without special glasses can perceive 3D images within their reach with little sense of incongruity. A real image is presented in the middle of the workspace; artificial parallax is narrowed to display 3D objects without interfering with normal motion. Viewers can manipulate virtual objects in the 3D workspace directly, with their own hands.
In addition to the display technologies, the SIGGRAPH 2000 Emerging Technologies: Point of Departure features the latest research in human-computer interfaces, augmented reality, collaborative computing, and robotics.
Motek Motion Technology will exhibit its Unica service at Siggraph 2000, Hall G, booth #2235. Using Unica's proprietary blending tool, computer graphics artists, game developers, animators, and other post-production professionals can download and customize samples from Motek's library of motion capture data.
Sequences available for download are walk, run, wait, turn, jump, crawl, fall, and stand/sit/lie down. Motek adds new sequences to the Web site every three to six weeks. The motion capture data can be imported into a range of 3D packages including software from SoftImage, Discreet Logic, Alias Wavefront, and Side Effects.
Unica's customization capabilities reportedly let users manipulate motion capture data in positions never recorded in the original sequence. It offers fundamental changes in the use of pre-recorded data sequences through its slider-bar functionality.
Macromedia no longer enjoys an exclusive hold on the market for Web-based vector-animation tools, as Adobe Systems last week released LiveMotion software, a new $299 Web graphics and animation tool for Web designers and developers.
Features include the ability to draw or import vector images, independently animate an object’s attributes directly within the object-based timeline, use named labels to cue events, and assign interactive behaviors to individual objects.
LiveMotion works with time-based rather than frame-based animation, and it supports native layered Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator files.
Output options include GIF, JPEG, PNG, Photoshop, and the SWF (Flash) format. LiveMotion will also support the W3C's Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format in a future release of the product.
The Adobe Web Collection 2.0, containing Adobe LiveMotion 1.0, Adobe GoLive 5.0, Adobe Illustrator 9.0, and Adobe Photoshop 5.5, will be available US $999 shortly after Illustrator 9.0 and GoLive 5.0 ship in the U.S. and Canada.
Ulead Systems last week released version 3 of its $60 SmartSaver Pro Web graphics compression and production tool.
Users can now set JPEG image quality as well as color quality (chroma) for better compression, while lossy GIF features allow for smaller GIF files. Users can also specify the amount of dithering for GIF and PNG formats as well as snap colors to a Web palette, lock palettes and specify GIF and JPEG transparency.
Actiontec Electronics' new 1394 FireWire Card gives existing Windows 98 and Macintosh platforms IEEE 1394 (FireWire) connectivity. The plug-n-play PCI card enables users to transfer data between desktop PCs, digital camcorders, and other multimedia accessories at speeds more than thirty times faster than Universal Serial Bus.
The product also includes an adapter cable and VideoWave III, MGI’s PC video software, with video and audio editing tools, special effects and prepackaged storyboards and templates.
The card offers data speeds up to 400 MHz and is compatible with all IEEE 1394 and i.Link peripherals including digital video camcorders, televisions, VCRs, storage devices, scanners, and DVD players. Providing three hot-swappable IEEE 1394 ports, the plug-and-play Actiontec 1394 FireWire Card supports up to 63 external devices, automatically configuring the FireWire “backbone” as peripherals are added or removed.
LambSoft, Inc. announces the reduction of the price of MoveTools v1.6. to $1,200 for a basic 2 spoke package or $600 a spoke.
MoveTools converts animation scenes using a platform-independent hub-and-spoke approach. Each MoveTools "spoke" consists of two plug-ins that let users transfer scenes in and out of one package (one plug-in for import, one plug-in for export). The "hub" is a MoveTools scene file that contains information about the scene, such as object names and attributes, animation data, cameras, lights and geometry.
Configured as a plug-in to 3D Studio Max, Maya, and Softimage 3D, MoveTools lets the animator transfer and convert cameras, lights, motion, hierarchies, skeletons, geometry (polygons & NURBS), material names and texture coordinates between animation packages.
This enables animators in time-pressured production environments to split the production pipeline among multiple animators working simultaneously on character modeling, scene building and animation and create workflow transparency between different hardware and software platforms.
Xara3D4 is the latest version of Xara's $39 Windows package for creating 3D headings and logos, animated or static. Graphics can be created from TrueType fonts or imported 2D metafiles. Controls include extrude depth, lighting, bevel, font, shadow, animation type, speed and direction, foreground and background color and texture.
New features in V4 include:
First-round entries for the third annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) are being accepted by the CMP Game Media Group as of June 1, 2000. The IGF provides a forum to showcase the work of independent game developers, foster recognition of games as an art form, and facilitate relationships between game developers and publishers. Interested developers can obtain official festival guidelines and submission forms online at http://www.indiegames.com.
Games in development for all platforms without current publishing deals are eligible to enter. The competition culminates at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), a trade-only event held at the San Jose Convention Center March 20-24, 2001. The 1999 winner in the category of best game design, Mind Control Software of San Rafael, CA, recently landed a publishing deal with Sega of America. The award-winning game, Resurrection, is expected to ship during the fourth quarter of 2000 for Sega Dreamcast.
The latest must purchase from New Riders (disclaimer: I supplied the back-cover blurb) is 3D Studio Max Magic, a collection of 20 step-by-step procedures for doing special effects with the well-known Discreet software. Written by some of the best in the biz, including Brandon Davis, Spectrum contributor Jeff Abouaf, Neil Blevins, texture specialist Eni Oken, and Sanford Kennedy, the title covers a wide of topics. Among the projects are creating standing crowds of people, a planet with atmosphere and civilization (i.e., city lights), automatic dust trails, and, of course, explosions. The CD includes all project files and four additional projects.
Osborne/McGraw-Hill has just published a new book, Web Design: The Complete Reference (756 pages, $39.99), a resource for Web design theories, techniques and technologies. Author Thomas Powell provides designers with a structured approach to designing, building, and maintaining a Web site.
The book combines design theory with practical examples. Each aspect of Web site creation is explained, from planning the site to building the pages, to adding search, e-commerce, and security features to hosting a site or working with an ISP to get maximum exposure.
An accompanying Web site, http://www.Webdesigncomplete.com, provides examples of navigation theories, color, layout and other concepts best expressed in the form of a Web page.
Cyberworld International Corporation announces the first annual Art and Design Contest for users of the Cyberworld Builder program.
The contest began this month, and runs for six months, with the first of the monthly winners to be announced in June, and the final winner chosen and announced in January 2001.
There is no cost to enter and nothing to buy. The 3D art and design program is a free download from Cyberworld. All submitted creations will be judged based upon “originality, creativity and overall design”.
Epic Games today last week released an updated version of the Unreal Editor for Unreal Tournament. Gamers can download Epic's Unreal Editor Version 2.0 which allows gamers to create their own mods and levels for the PC action games Unreal and Unreal Tournament.
Unreal Editor 2.0 is an enhanced version of the editor that was available in the boxed versions of Unreal and Unreal Tournament. The easier-to-use Version 2.0 offers a new interface; more stability; better vertex manipulation and item selection/grouping; three-point clipping; and an improved 2D shaper. The new editor is being further developed by Epic, and serves as the basis for the company's next generation of products. Version 2.0 will be integrated into the next Unreal Tournament patch.
Just out from Loki is the beta version of Linux SDK, which lets Linux enthusiasts and aspiring game developers create maps and game code modifications under Linux. Windows users have had this capability since the release of the original Quake game.
Linux SDK offers Linux users a tool chain for content creation. It combines software for image processing, conversion and editing with a map editor compatible with the Quake III engine. The features include custom texturing, lighting, patches, shaders, entities and more. It is based in part on the QERadiant code from id Software, Inc.
The beta software can now be downloaded from ftp://ftp.lokigames.com/pub/beta/q3sdk. The README contains important information on system requirements and known issues.
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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