5 November 2001
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Digimation, the Discreet Preferred Plug-in Publisher, is the leader in the plug-in market for 3ds max. As we enter into our 10th year, we are committed to creating innovative plug-ins that offer the 3ds max community a way to turn ideas into reality. Check our website for our Anniversary Specials. http://www.digimation.com
Saba last week announced Saba Content, a new learning-content management system (LCMS) and component of Saba3 Release4, designed to let organizations centrally manage learning content on the Internet instead of using multiple, disparate systems. The standards-based system manages the processes of creating, capturing, assembling, publishing, delivering, and storing content and learning objects.
Saba Content manages all forms of content including real-time and unstructured content such as text, images, audio and video clips, modules, chapters, and test questions. It also supports learning standards such as AICC, ADL SCORM, and IMS(1), and manages all of the following processes in a single system.
Managing and storing content: Users can search, share, repurpose and store content and learning objects in a central location. Learning objects are reusable units of learning content such as a text box, image, video clip, or a chapter of a course, and can be searched by name, content format, vendor, language, competency, date modified, creator, and date created. A single, central repository eliminates duplicate learning content creation efforts and encourages a collaborative work environment since multiple people can work on the same course at the same time. Saba Content also has wizards-based import capabilities to import standards-based learning content and specialized content from NETg, SkillSoft, and SmartForce.
Creating, capturing, assembling, and publishing content: Assembles content and publishes it to the learning catalog in the appropriate format, be it a course, short learning module, document, job aid, or reference guide. Saba Content is also integrated with Saba Publisher, which lets users create new learning content and repurpose existing content, and then assemble it for delivery through a drag-and-drop interface.
Delivering and tracking content: Integrated with Saba Learning to deliver personalized content to users based on profile information. Saba Content supports multiple delivery modes such as the Internet, intranet, CD-ROM, or offline learning.
Saba invites interested organizations to attend a free live Web demo of Saba3 Release4 including Saba Content on Wednesday, November 7 at 9:00 a.m. PST. Register now at http://www.saba.com/registration9 or call +1-877-SABA-101 for more information.
Gear Software says its DVD recording products are compatible with Panasonic's 4.7GB DVD-RAM/R drive, the DVDBurner. Combined, the software and dual-technology drive bring rewritable and write-once DVD recording to a range of platforms, including Windows 95, 98, Me, XP, NT 4.0, 2000, Linux and UNIX environments.
Gear Pro DVD for Windows and Gear Pro with DVD for Unix and Linux feature a graphical user interface that enables drag-and-drop burning of AV and data files as well as directories to the Panasonic DVDBurner.
Applications for these capabilities range from storing text, photos, multimedia files, databases, audio, video and backups to mission-critical archiving, title development, prototyping, and premaster testing.
Gear says it expects that software developers will embed its DVD-recording software API in a variety of applications that will target the new Panasonic DVD-RAM/R hardware.
In addition to creating 4.7GB DVDs in the Universal Disc Format (UDF), Gear Pro products support the creation of DVD volumes in ISO 9660 and Hybrid ISO/UDF formats using the Panasonic DVDBurner's Forum-standard DVD-RAM and DVD-R technologies.
The Panasonic DVDBurner writes to DVD-R General media at a full 11.08Mb/sec, meeting real-time video requirements. The DVD-RAM media can be written to at 22.16Mb/s (equivalent to 18x CD) excluding verification. In addition to providing playback of DVD videos and DVD-ROMs at up to 6x speeds, the drive provides 24x CD read performance.
Designed to support Panasonic DVDBurner and DVD-RAM drives with either a SCSI or ATAPI interface, Gear Pro software is available through Gear authorized distributors and resellers at SRP $699 for GEAR Pro DVD v2 and $1.499 for Gear Pro for Unix. Gear Pro DVD v2 supports Windows 95, 98, Me, XP, NT 4.0 and 2000. Gear Pro for Unix supports Sun/Solaris, HP UX, SGI Irix, IBM AIX, Digital/Compaq and Linux.
The Panasonic DVDBurner is available at a street price of less than $500.
DSI Datotech Systems of Montreal recently completed a series of user evaluations with technicians and artists from multimedia studios in Montreal and Vancouver. The user evaluation, part of the company's plan to bring its gesture recognition technology (GRT) to multimedia markets, was performed on prototypes of the company's Multi-Point Touchpad product. The plan calls for initial product release in Q1 '02.
Macromedia last week released its Flash Player 5 Source Code SDK to enable device manufacturers and embedded platform providers to port Macromedia Flash Player to a variety of devices and platforms. The SDK is also designed to let Flash developers (Macromedia says there're more than a million of 'em) to create content and applications for the next generation of Internet-connected devices.
Using the Macromedia Flash Player Source Code SDK, Macromedia's embedded licensees, such as Phoenix Technologies and Siemens are integrating Macromedia Flash Player into consumer electronics devices including mobile phones, PDAs, interactive TV systems, game machines, Internet appliances, Webpads, and in-room hotel entertainment systems. Macromedia Flash Player support on devices will reportedly let users experience applications such as city maps, event details, mobile online banking, real-time financial information, and remote email access.
Firms such as Liberate, Microsoft, and Sony have already announced support for Flash Player on their consumer electronics devices and platforms. In September, Macromedia and Microsoft agreed to enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Casio, Samsung, Siemens, and THOMSON TAK to include Flash Player in their Windows CE operating system-based devices.
Liberate Technologies and Macromedia, Inc. previously announced that Flash Player is integrated into Liberate's open, standards-based interactive television platform for commercial deployment, enabling Flash developers to create interactive TV content and applications for the Liberate TV Platform software. Sony Computer and Macromedia previously announced their intent to deploy Macromedia Flash Player on the Sony Playstation 2 gaming console.
The Macromedia Flash Player Source Code SDK includes reference platforms for Windows CE (Windows CE 3.0 and Windows CE 3.0 for PocketPC), Windows 32 (standalone and ActiveX) and Linux (Netscape plug-in). Licensees will receive the C++ source code for Macromedia Flash Player, as well as a full test suite and documentation to help port the player to new devices and platforms.
Aportis Technologies Corp. last week released AportisDoc Converter for Windows. The software lets text be extracted from various types of documents so they can be read on handheld devices with an AportisDoc viewer installed. Files that can be converted include Word 97 and Word 2000 (.doc), Adobe PDF (.pdf), Rich Text (.rtf), HTML (.htm or .html), Plain Text (.txt), and WordPerfect 6x - 9x (.wpd). In addition, Bookmarks can be set within the converted documents so that portions of the text can be located easily.
LightWave users can now paint and texture on 3D objects, including over UV Mapped surfaces, using a special LightWave 3D edition of Deep Paint 3D from Right Hemisphere. Some features include:
Animation tools company Toon Boom Technologies is about to release its LightTable module upgrade, which is compatible with USAnimation V5 and runs on Windows 2000. The LightTable module introduces the concept of the virtual animation studio, allowing animators to work remotely and send their drawings electronically to their partner studio anywhere in the world.
With the LightTable module, animators can hand-draw animation with a pressure-sensitive pen and graphic tablet based on the classical light table approach and use these vector drawings with all of the other USAnimation modules.
This release includes new and improved vector drawing and repainting tools, the ability to build and export USAnimation Paint files, the ability to display bitmap images and live-action sequences for rotoscoping, support for the import of audio files and multiple sounds at playback, and the ability to lip sync-sound files to help in the creation of drawings.
Users can also import USAnimation drawings so that they can be repainted or retouched, or simply for reference artwork, when creating new effects like shadows, highlights and tones.
Dublin, Ireland-based ParallelGraphics, a developer of Web and wireless 3D technologies, released Internet Model Optimizer (IMO) V1.5, an tool for optimizing complex 3D models created with CAD/CAM/CAE and other design systems for use on the Internet.
Using proprietary algorithms, IMO is said to optimize 3D models by removing the polygons that contribute least to the total visual impression of the models, while allowing for the optimal balance between rendering speed and visual quality.
New and improved features include:
Digimation, Inc. last week announced its ninth anniversary. Since the company launched in November 1992, it has gone on to become the largest publisher and distributor of plug-in software 3ds max. To celebrate this milestone event, Digimation will be offering special discounts to customers from November 1 to December 21, 2001.
Digimation currently brands over 60 extensions for 3ds max and works with developers around the world to expand this number. The five current top-selling plug-ins are Bones Pro 3, Illustrate! 5, Phoenix 1.5, Shag: Hair and Stitch. Other Digimation plug-ins cover the categories of particle systems, materials, modelers, renderers, utilities and image processing.
Just out from Pandromeda is MojoWorld Transporter 1.02; find the free Windows, Mac or Linux download at http://www.pandromeda.com/.
Included are some "very cool" default worlds with this one, but you'll need to download the new Transporter to explore them.
Also, Pandromeda has put up a survey for Transporter mojonauts, so that they can strive for an increasingly creative Mojo experience for you. The survey is at
Just out from Berkeley's Peachpit Press is Robin Williams Web Design Workshop, offering working or aspiring designers lessons on graphic design from the desktop to the Web. Co-written with John Tollett and Dave Rohr (who also co-founded the Santa Fe Macintosh User Group with Williams) , the book's chapters cover:
Here's the latest batch from prolific multimedia book publisher Charles River Media of Hingham, Mass.:
Due out this month is Mathematics for 3D Game Programming and Computer Graphics, by Lengyel, and coming next month is Modeling in LightWave by Mortier. Three other books by Mortier, who's been churnin' them out for Charles River for a while now, were mysteriously canceled. Chalk one up for the trees!
Coming in April, 2002 is The Maya 4 Handbook by Adam Watkins, director of computer arts at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. The book covers modeling, texturing, animation, character animation, rendering, and paint effects. Included for hands-on practice are exercises and tutorials.
Also scheduled for release in April is Professional Web Design: Techniques and Templates. Written by Web designer Clint Eccher, the book/CD-ROM package features 50 license-free Web design templates ready for study and customization. Each template includes a home page, a second-level page, and the framework to build further pages. Tutorials teach the techniques required for building these and other sites, including the basics of HTML, Photoshop, and CSS. The book also shows how to upload a site to a server, and how to test for compatibility with the major browsers. Also included on the CD are demo versions of Photoshop 6.0, Flash 5, and other software.
And keeping you even busier in April is Java Graphics Programming Library: Concepts to Source Code. Author Oswald Campesato, a software developer, provides ready-to-use, customizable source code for hundreds of Java graphics classes, including a variety of polygons, polyhedra, ellipses, cones, and cylinders. Each chapter contains a thematic selection of graphics and covers the necessary mathematics, programming concepts, and source code for each image. The CD includes all the applets, source code, and the Java 2 SDK.
In May, Charles River will release Kelly Valqui's book Building Macromedia ColdFusion 5 Applications. The title covers all aspects of analyzing and defining data with ColdFusion that can be used to create Web apps for personal or business use, with several exercises per chapter for practice. You'll also learn how to deploy apps with Appache Web Server, and integrate apps with Flash.
Last but not least, come May you'll be able to learn how to develop interactive entertainment software for hand-held PCs, courtesy of Charlie Wallace's new book Game Programming for the Pocket PC. The book covers a variety of programming languages, including Embedded Visual C++ and GAPI. Wallace emphasizes the writing of sample game programs, including network programming and multi-player games. He also discusses "fixed-point math" and why it's used on Pocket PCs. The accompanying CD-ROM provides source code for all the games in the book, as well as a number of third-party plug-ins.
Just out from Disney / Pixar's, published by Sony Computer Entertainment America, is Monsters, Inc. for the PlayStation and PS one game consoles. The game features action, puzzles, hazards, bonus levels and challenging gameplay to capture young and older audiences alike.
Based on the new animated feature film from Disney, Monsters, Inc. is a 3D action platform game that places players in the roles of Sulley, a master scare artist, and his best friend Mike, who is learning to become a master scarer, too. Playing as either Sulley or Mike, gamers learn to perform up to 18 unique scare tactics, as well as a variety of moves such as bouncing, belly-flopping, cannonball-rolling and tail-spinning.
Taking place within the Monsters, Inc. Academy - the training grounds for the largest scream-processing factory in the monster world, the game comprises 15 levels, each designed with action platform elements, hidden areas and comically scary activities, as Sulley and Mike strive to master the art of terrifying little children.
http://www.scea.com/games/categories/actionadvent/monsters/ (not much there yet)
Just out from Universal Interactive is Spyro: Season of Ice, a new adventure for the juvenile dragon on a new platform. Developed by Digital Eclipse Software, Spyro's latest escapade begins when a wicked wizard freezes all the fairies throughout the Fairy Realms. Determined to save his friends, Spyro embarks on an adventure through 25 levels including the Lava Prairie, Honey Marsh and Star Park. Players control Spyro's gliding, flaming and hovering abilities in large, isometric 3D platform-jumping levels, speedway rounds and arcade-style top-down levels.
Coming next week from Electronic Arts is The Sims Hot Date Expansion Pack (PC Windows), the newest add-on disk to the hit title. Gamers can play matchmaker to the Sims and watch the sparks fly or fizzle. New customizable downtown neighborhoods help users get their Sims out of the house and into the dating scene. Send Sims out to a candlelight dinner for two at the swankiest restaurant in town, a risqué rendezvous in the park after dark or a wild night cruising the Strip in hopes of getting lucky.
Microsoft says it's on track to deliver Dungeon Siege, the fantasy RPG from Gas Powered Games (GPG), in April of 2002. "Taking extra time to finish the game was a tough decision, but we are glad we did, as it allowed us to add that extra layer of polish that we often dream about," explained Chris Taylor, CEO of GPG and lead designer of Dungeon Siege.
Dungeon Siege is an action fantasy role-playing game featuring a 3D environment. The game places players in a continuous 3D fantasy world on a quest to stop a mysterious evil that has been unleashed. Beginning with a single character, players can travel through the world and gather a party of up to eight characters, or choose to face the challenge alone.
Features will include:
Stream Theory and Interplay announce "Interplay Streaming Games," renting full-version games directly to consumers. A number of the latter's games are available here at $6 per month.
Steig Westerberg, Stream Theory president and CEO, states, "Consumers will install 1.3 million streaming software players on their machines by the end of this year, and 8.1 million by 2003, according to the Yankee Group."
The 1.9MB Stream Theory Player resides on users PCs. Because the software is streamed to the user's desktop, there is no installation, no downloading, and no uninstalling of files. Users can play the game without having to worry about the game affecting their desktop settings or hard drive.
Sierra and Fox Interactive last week shipped Aliens vs. Predator 2, the sequel to the first-person shooter with a difference: the ability to play any of three different protagonists, each with markedly different skills and capabilities. The game offers three interlocking, character-driven stories, in which aliens, predators, and humans share the will to survive and only one species can emerge victorious.
Interplay division Digital Mayhem plans to ship its upcoming action game Hunter: The Reckoning on March 15, 2002 for Xbox. The action game is based on the characters and fiction found in the role-playing game Hunter: The Reckoning and the World of Darkness created by White Wolf Publishing, Inc.
In the world of Hunter, there is evil everywhere, but now a mysterious force has imbued a chosen few humans with not just the knowledge of the evil, but the power to do something about it. Played from a third-person perspective, the game drops players into the nightmarish setting of modern-day Hunters. Creatures of the dark disguised as everyday mortals plague humankind. Players can assume the role of one of four Hunter characters, in either single player or cooperative four-player multiplayer mode, each endowed with unique supernatural abilities that become more diverse and powerful as players progress through 20 plus levels conquering evil.
Market research firm Jon Peddie Associates (JPA) announces the departure of founder and president Jon Peddie. After 16 years, Peddie, a veteran of the computer graphics market, will leave to pursue new business interests in the technology community. Since its acquisition by Penton Media in 1999 JPA has enlisted a select group of industry analysts and editors who have expanded the business beyond its traditional areas of research. JPA's business operations will be managed by Randall Stickrod, and product and research development will be managed by Christine Arrington.
JPA will continue to serve and develop initiatives in its traditional markets of computer graphics and 3D technologies, and will further expand its presence in digital entertainment technologies including set-top boxes, game consoles, DVD devices and many more; software tools and applications including digital content creation, visualization and simulation, 3D on the Web and many others, according to company vice president Christine Arrington.
An integral part of JPA's new business development has been its newly launched executive events. These events include its Digital Entertainment Box Forum series, the next of which will convene in New York in December and London in March, 2002. It also launched The 3D on the Web Conference in Santa Clara and will follow with similar conferences in spring and fall of 2002; and a third series on visualization & simulation technologies will launch in spring of 2002.
If you're interested in the latest info on 3D scanning technology, head to the Sofitel Hotel in Strasbourg, France November 20-21. The name of the conference and exhibition is The 3rd Dimension, and you'll be able to meet experts, discover new applications, and network with peers.
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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