Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News
25 November 2002
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
For editorial/subscription inquiries, send mailto: spectrum1@broadviewnet.net
Search the Spectrum archives at http://www.3dlinks.com/spectrum
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Editor's note:
Next week, Spectrum will take a break for the Thanksgiving holiday, and will return December 9. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Today's Headlines (details below)

FEATURE REVIEW
--Head Designer 1.5

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING
--StillMotion Creator Adds QuickShow to New Pro Release
--Texas Tech Scans Statue of Liberty
--Nvidia Launches GeForce FX GPU
--Ulead Updates DVD, Photo Software

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER
--O'Reilly/Pogue Press Releases "Dreamweaver MX: The Missing Manual"
--Nominations Sought for Shareware Awards

DEALS
--Fakespace, Mechdyne to Merge
--GameSpy, EA Sign Tech Pact
--VR Glove Designer Sues Over Breach Agreement

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
--Midway Releases Haven: Call of the King
--Vivid Group Announces New VR Game
--Interplay Ships Hunter: The Reckoning
--Her Interactive Ships Nancy Drew Title
--New 3D Tech Helps PS2 Game
--AMD, Epic Demo 64-Bit Game

NUMBEROLOGY
--Nielsen//NetRatings Announces First Digital Media Universe Rankings
--Consumers Will Spark Rise in Recordable DVD Sales

DIGERATI ILLUMINATI
--Oregon3D Appoints Educational Directors

F.Y.I.
--About Spectrum
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FEATURE REVIEW

Head Designer 1.5 Review
By David Duberman

For many, the holy grail of 3D character modeling is a good head. Some artists spend as much time, or more, creating and refining character's head as they do on the rest of the body. And, of course, the face consumes the lion's share of this time. This makes sense, because we humans are hard-wired to look at faces, more than, perhaps, any other object in our environment. It naturally follows that an enterprising developer would create a tool specifically for generating and parametrically editing realistic heads, and that's just what Applied Ideas' Ken Maffei has done.

The software is Head Designer, a plug-in for 3ds max distributed by Digimation. This eminently useful tool, which has been around for a while, was so good in its initial incarnation that little has been added in the new version 1.5. Specifically, Ken added four new ethnic head shapes--African-American and Asian in both male and female--and an androgynous eight-year-old child's head suitable for using as a boy or girl (just add hair). Also new are settings for Inward Deformation on the entire head, augmenting the existing Outward Deformation settings, plus some additional controls for eyes and lips.

Besides the new ones noted above, available head shapes include four versions each of Generic Man and Generic Woman; you can switch among the shapes at any time, keeping the existing settings. Once you add a head, it's tempting (and fun) to start playing with the parameters right away, but I recommend instead that you scroll down to the last rollout, Presets/Limit Settings, and try loading some of the presets. These offer a wide range of more-or-less realistic head styles that you can learn from or use as starting points for your own heads, such as Muscle Head, Geek, Mad Scientist, and Exotic. You might even know some of these people! You can also save your own presets. By the way, I also suggest you create a couple of texture-mapped eyeballs when using Head Designer; having eyes in the heads makes a world of difference. I used the nifty procedural eye textures included in Symbiont 2.1, free from Darkling Simulations (http://www.darksim.com/html/download_simbiont2.html).

The heart of Head Designer is its rollouts for the head and its different parts, typically with a dozen or so parameters each. The Head Shape rollout gives you controls for Outward Deformation, which makes the head balloon outward, and Inward Deformation, which squeezes the center of the head, making the top and bottom appear to bulge. Here you also find separate scaling controls for the three axes, plus Skew settings that control taper. There're also width and depth controls for just the front part of the head (also known as the face), flattening the top (or producing a cone-head effect), and setting the forehead slope.

Next we come to the most prominent facial feature: the nose. Aren't noses silly? Head Designer lets you make them even sillier with controls such as Width, Length, and Pull Up (sets the vertical position). You can also make the bridge convex or concave, and give the end a pug or hook style.

Head Designer's chin controls let you stick it out or push it in, set the tilt and width, and adjust the jaw width. Cheekbones have a marked effect on the overall look of the face, and the software lets you determine how far they stick out, and their vertical position. You can also adjust the cheeks' curvature for a range of looks between hollow-cheeked ascetic and full-pouched human hamster.

The eyes have it: controls for separation of the sockets, vertical position, depth position (inset/bulge), and brow bulge. You can also set rotation about the in-out axis, and roundedness for the top and bottom. These latter controls don't let you fully close the eyes, but you can take them between shocked and squinty-eyed expressions. And if you've ever wanted to make a human Dumbo, the ear controls let you produce a fairly convincing replica. Mouth controls include protrusion, width, and thickness for the upper and lower lips. There are no controls for smiling or frowning; in fact, Head Designer doesn't offer any controls specifically related to facial expressions. It's strictly for defining the structure of the head.

The heads are quite detailed, down to the little nubbins on the inside corners of the eyes and in front of the ear holes, and look good enough for close-up rendering. You can animate all the settings, but there's no provision for speaking. If you want to accomplish the latter, use bones or morphing. They're fairly high in resolution, upwards of 5,000 faces each, but using max's MultiRes modifier to reduce the face count to 10 to 20 percent of the original, depending on the head shape, still results in a fairly convincing-looking head. If you need to go much lower than that, for a real-time application, say, you're probably better off mapping face textures onto boxes. The heads are bottomless, ready for attaching to a body or torso's open neck by welding verts.

Head Designer comes with a "crowd" utility to generate up to 100 randomized heads at a time, plus a well-written manual with suggestions for how to use the different settings. It's not a comprehensive solution for character modeling and animation, but it's a darn good head start (sorry, couldn't resist). I recommend Head Designer highly for 3ds max users who need to model generic-looking (or very strange-looking) virtual humans on a tight deadline.

http://www.digimation.com
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GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

StillMotion Creator Adds QuickShow to New Pro Release

Software developer and inventor Bill Strum says he believes the photography world is ready for an easier product that lets artists reap the benefits of multimedia animation using existing digital still images.

With the new QuickShow technology, now embedded in StillMotion Creator software, users can animate digital images with pan, zoom, perspective, transitions and rotation to create moving images with sound as either SWF (Flash) or AVI for Internet, videography and broadcast applications without having learn the nuances of keyframe editing systems.

The new release of StillMotion Creator offers 3D perspective to video creators through the addition of a new 3D controls to the camera interface. This allows the ability to create fly-bys with perspective views using only still images as the source.

http://www.imagematics.com
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Texas Tech Scans Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty has stood over New York Harbor as a beacon of freedom for more than 120 years. But could she be rebuilt if damaged or destroyed?

After the World Trade Center attacks, the value and vulnerability of U.S. national monuments are being given new consideration. And though there are numerous photos of Lady Liberty, there are no detailed architectural drawings that would enable an exact replica to be created.

Texas Tech University, the National Park Service, and the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) are working to change that. They are in the process of creating digital architectural drawings that will detail the statue's every curve, cranny and dimension.

The university is finding success in capturing the statue's unique architecture with 3D laser scanning technology and geometry processing software that automatically generates an accurate digital model from the scan data.

Even under the best of circumstances, scanning an object that is 305 feet tall and weighs 225 tons would not be easy. Beyond mere size, the Statue of Liberty presented special challenges, according to Glenn Hill, director of Texas Tech College of Architecture's environmental visualization program. The available space in which to do the scanning was limited in relation to the size of the statue. And the scanned model had to have a horizontal and vertical recording of 0.375 inches, which is the HABS standard for accuracy.

"The positions from which we could collect the data were very limited," Hill says. "In addition to that, there were always crowds of tourists present, so there were security and safety concerns at all times."

The team collected the data using a Cyrax 2500 3D laser scanner capable of capturing 800 points per second and tested at 6mm accuracy. Researchers spent four 14-hour days scanning different points around the statue. They then took the scanned data back to Texas and ordered a computer with dual 1.8-GHz processors, a 3-GB RDRAM video card, and two 80-GB SCSI hard drives to process and register the immense point-cloud data.

"We had 13 different scans with approximately 1.23 million data points per scan, a total of 16 million data points," Hill says. "We tried to register these 13 scans together using targets placed in the scene, but we had a lot of difficulty getting appropriate alignment. We could not move forward unless we could register the point clouds, create polygon meshes, and finally generate NURBS surfaces to transfer to a CAD program."

The research team found the solution in Geomagic Studio from Raindrop Geomagic (Research Triangle Park, N.C.). Geomagic Studio takes scanned data and automatically generates polygon and NURBS (surface) models.
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Nvidia Launches GeForce FX GPU

Coming in February are graphics cards based on the new Nvidia GeForce FX graphics processing unit (GPU). Features include:
* The 500MHz GPU can compute 375 million programmable vertices per second; 4 billion pixels per second; and 16 billion AA samples per second.
* 1Ghz DDR2 memories
* support for AGP8X
* 128-bit color

The NVIDIA CineFX engine implements both OpenGL and DirectX 9.0 specifications. These APIs give developers access to new programming tools and support Pixel Shader 2.0+, Vertex Shader 2.0+ and 128-bit floating-point color. DirectX 9.0 exposes programmability of the pixel and vertex shading engine by increasing the length and flexibility of programs, enabling features like procedural shading on a GPU.
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Ulead Updates DVD, Photo Software

Coming in December from Ulead Systems is DVD MovieFactory 2.0, the latest version of its consumer-level DVD-creation software. The lets users transform videos and photos into polished DVDs while providing editing and archiving options.

The new version let users author a DVD straight from a camcorder or other video source to a DVD disc without writing to the computer hard drive. It also supports the DVD+RW video recording standard endorsed by Sony, Hewlett Packard, Phillips, and others, to equip users with flexible "on-disc" editing tools for archiving and reusing video and photos on DVD+RW and DVD-RW discs repeatedly, on the disc.

And in January, Ulead plans to release Photo Explorer 8.0, its $30 PC-based software for acquiring, organizing, converting and sharing images, video and other media files. New features include support for Epson's Print Image Matching (PIM) format for printing digital photos, and tools for classifying and searching photos, viewing media, and capturing multiple scanned images.

Photo Explorer 8.0 provides a new format for managing and finding photos according to file name, prefix, personal rating and date. The software can pre-scan a folder and create image thumbnails both from a hard drive and CD, creating a CD catalog that can be used as a reference without inserting the CD into the drive. The new auto-slicing tool is designed to save time by slicing multiple scanned images to separate them into single images. The software also features improvements in speed and performance, along with enhanced slideshow capabilities, and new, multiple interface layouts.

http://www.ulead.com
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THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

O'Reilly/Pogue Press Releases "Dreamweaver MX: The Missing Manual"

Dreamweaver MX (for Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, and Windows) marks the union of Dreamweaver and Dreamweaver UltraDev, a package of Web-database language modules once sold separately. The new, unified program offers drag-and-drop simplicity, produces clean HTML code, and incorporates the dynamic, database-driven power that was formerly available only with UltraDev.

The only feature Dreamweaver MX appears to lack is a printed manual. To fill the breach comes "Dreamweaver MX: The Missing Manual" by David Sawyer McFarland (Pogue Press/O'Reilly, US $34.95).

Tutorials guide the reader through the construction of a commercial Web site, with Flash buttons, Cascading Style Sheets, and dynamic databases (in the reader's choice of programming language). The book is full of undocumented workarounds, shortcuts, and Easter eggs in Dreamweaver.

For more information, including table of contents, index, author bio and samples, see, http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/drmweavmxtmm/
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Nominations Sought for Shareware Awards

Nominations for the year's best shareware programs are being sought for the seventh annual SharewareJunkies.com Awards, to be presented on January 2, 2003. Net surfers are invited to cast their votes at http://www.sharewarejunkies.com between now and December 27.

The 2003 Awards will consist of five categories: four are specific to individual operating systems--Best Windows Program, Best Macintosh Program, Best OS/2 Program, Best DOS Program--and the fifth celebrates the Best Freeware Program, which is open to a product running on any operating system as long as it is available at no cost. The program that receives the highest number of votes will be named Best Program of the Year.
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DEALS

Fakespace, Mechdyne to Merge

Fakespace Systems Inc. and Mechdyne Corporation have signed a letter of intent to merge their businesses by the end of the year. Both companies currently provide immersive visualization systems that enable users to work with three-dimensional models and environments as if they exist in space. The large-scale front- and rear-projected displays and walk-in virtual environments provide high-resolution stereoscopic viewing that enables engineers, geoscientists and researchers to achieve better insight, communications and collaboration.

Dr. Chris Clover, the chief executive officer and controlling shareholder of Mechdyne Corporation, will continue as CEO of the combined entity. Carol Leaman, who is currently the president of Fakespace Systems, will serve as president of the merged company with responsibility for day-to-day operations. The merged company, which will be called Fakespace Systems, plans to continue to expand facilities and representation throughout the world.

http://www.fakespacesystems.com
http://www.mechdyne.com
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GameSpy, EA Sign Tech Pact

GameSpy Industries and Electronic Arts have signed a multi-year technology licensing and services agreement. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
 
Under the agreement, EA will incorporate GameSpy's middleware into some PC games that feature online game play. GameSpy will also help to manage the back-end services for EA's online games that use the GameSpy middleware, providing server, bandwidth and reporting support.

As part of the agreement, Electronic Arts will also make GameSpy technology and services available to its co-publishing partners.

The multi-year agreement is an outgrowth of the two companies' prior work together, supplying middleware and back end online gameplay support for titles such as Medal of Honor Allied Assault and Freedom Force.
 
GameSpy offers a suite of multi-platform SDKs to enable online gaming, and back-end infrastructure said to have matched players in more than one billion gaming sessions for more than five years. Supported platforms include PC, PlayStation 2, Linux, Apple Macintosh, GameCube, and Dreamcast.

http://www.gamespy.net
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VR Glove Designer Sues Over Breach Agreement

MC Squared Incorporated filed suit last week against Essential Reality, Inc. in United States District Court in Manhattan. The suit alleges breach of the development agreement for Essential Reality's P5 computer peripheral product and violations of the U.S. Lanham Act.

Christopher T. Gentile, founder and CEO of MC Squared, announced the filing of the lawsuit, which seeks injunctive and monetary relief from Essential Reality and four individuals affiliated with the company. Mr. Gentile, who was lead designer and project manager of the Nintendo Power Glove in 1989, was hired by Essential Reality to conceive, design, and develop a PC version of the product in 1999.

The P5 is a glove-like peripheral device, based upon proprietary bend sensor and remote tracking technologies, which provides users total intuitive interaction with 3D and virtual environments, such as games, Websites and educational software. The product was launched to the public on October 21, 2002 and is presently available at outlets nationwide.

http://www.mcsqd.com
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GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Midway Releases Haven: Call of the King

Midway Games last week shipped Haven: Call Of The King, an action-fantasy game for PlayStation 2. The title is also scheduled to ship for Xbox and GameCube next year.

Utilizing FreeFormer gameplay allows the player to experience multiple gameplay mechanics blended together in a virtually limitless world, with a variety of genres integrated into one game. Players can move anywhere in the world on foot or by vehicle with smooth transitions between turret-based shooting, boat racing, bike battles, plane fighting, gladiator arena combat and space exploration. In addition, the technology allows players to seamlessly travel from the earth, through the atmosphere, into outer space, and back again.

Players embark on a quest as Haven, a heroic young man haunted by dreams that awaken him to the legend of the "Golden Voice." A bell that can be rung in times of need, the "Golden Voice" is the only way Haven can free his people from slavery and imminent death at the hands of the evil Lord Vetch.

To emancipate his people and complete his galactic crusade, Haven must prove his mettle in the warrior training grounds and navigate untold dangers to recover the relic that will guide him to the "Golden Voice."

The game offers additional DVD content, including hints, a behind-the-scenes look at the developer, U.K.-based Traveller's Tales, and a look at the game's artwork by illustrator Rodney Matthews.

http://www.midway.com
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Vivid Group Announces New VR Game

The Vivid Group, a Toronto-based developer of video gesture-control technology, announces Wizard's Cavern, the latest application in its Gesture Xtreme (GX100) collection of immersive virtual-reality titles. Wizard's Cavern takes the participant's live, real-time video image and immerses it into a 3D virtual world, with magical owls, bats, dragons and flying broomsticks.

The object of the multi-level adventure is to collect as many wizard rings as possible in the time allowed. The more rings collected, the more powerful the gamer becomes. The gamer must overcome the malevolent bats and dragons that try to steal his power and keep him from completing his quest. Help appears in the form of snowy owls, which bring rings and assist the apprenticing wizard through each increasingly challenging level.

Wizard's Cavern features Vivid's new GestXtreme game engine. The updated technology includes advanced tracking techniques and high-resolution graphics. Users physically participate in the virtual world through a combination of artificial intelligence and video gesture analysis of the user's real-time video image. Users interact with objects such as fighting dragons and flying broomsticks. The player is free to move about the play area, unrestricted by VR equipment such as helmets, goggles and joysticks.

http://www.vividgroup.com
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Interplay Ships Hunter: The Reckoning

Interplay Entertainment Corp. and the Games division of Vivendi Universal Publishing last week released Hunter: The Reckoning for the Nintendo GameCube game system to retail establishments. Developed by High Voltage Software, the action game is based on the characters and fiction found in the pencil-and-paper role-playing game Hunter: The Reckoning and the World of Darkness, created by White Wolf Publishing Inc.

Played from a third person perspective, Hunter immerses players in the nightmarish setting of Ashcroft, a town plagued by creatures of the night. Armed with a variety of weaponry, players go through the game's many gothic environments and battle over 30 creature variants from bloodthirsty vampires to unstoppable legions of the walking dead.

Features include:
* Single or Multiplayer: 1 - 4 Hunters battle up to 30 creatures on the same screen
* 20 types of monster from zombies to vampires, including 7 "insane" boss characters
* over 20 melee, ranged and spell weapons including axes, shotguns, swords and flamethrowers
* dismember enemies by removing heads, arms and legs
* Movement Independent Targeting technology makes use of both analog sticks to allow the player to simultaneously move and shoot in different directions
* soundtrack from gothic industrial band Coma

http://www.interplay.com
http://www.white-wolf.com
http://www.high-voltage.com
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Her Interactive Ships Nancy Drew Title

Her Interactive, a developer of interactive entertainment for girls and women, last week released the latest game in its Nancy Drew series, Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake. The 3D mystery-adventure, the seventh title in the Nancy Drew CD-ROM series, is geared toward players ages 10 and up.

Players assume the identity of teenage sleuth Nancy Drew as she helps a friend tormented by a pack of phantom hounds. Players must pick up the cold trail left by a sinister character from long ago as they solve puzzles, search through shadowy woods and creepy old houses, interview a cast of suspicious characters, and dodge danger to sniff out the truth behind local legends and solve the mystery of the Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake.

Players can get in-game assistance by phoning Nancy's friends Ned, Bess and George, as well as Nancy's longtime sleuthing partners, The Hardy Boys. They can also explore hot spots that give players more clues, and refer to Nancy's new PDA to track their progress and get hints.

http://www.herinteractive.com
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New 3D Tech Helps PS2 Game

Computer gaming fans can expect to see one of the most realistic games to date when Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) releases "The Getaway" on December 6. The Playstation 2 game promises high-speed chases, fires, explosions and gun battles that make players feel like they're part of an action-packed film. The setting is a 30-mile section of the foggy streets of London so realistic that players can see the cracks in the pavement.

The more than 100 lifelike characters and elaborate scenery would have been impossible to create in a timely manner without the help of new 3D scanning and facial morphing technologies. Each character's face and actions appear as in real life, complete with blinking, breathing and emotional expressions.

According to Dave Smith, character artist, one of the most difficult and time-consuming parts of developing the game was creating the characters. SCEE wanted to create the realism of a theatrical film within the interactivity of a 3D game.

"You have to have the proper realism to fully project emotions," says Smith. "We wanted the player to be able to see the expression on that character's face and to empathize with him. You can't do this by hand. You could never be that accurate."

SCEE developers achieved that accuracy by digitally re-creating real actors and their clothing. The ShapeSnatcher Suite 3D scanning and modeling system from Eyetronics (www.eyetronics.com) allowed SCEE to scan and model the actors' faces, and real-time motion capture put the finishing touches on the characters' movements.

"ShapeSnatcher provided us with a great start to our in-game models," Smith says. "The scans are quick and accurate - too accurate, in fact. The detail level in the scans was far too high for us to run in real time on a Playstation 2. Consequently, the character artists used the scan as a template to build a lower-resolution model."

Where the developers hit a wall in the process was in sheer volume of work, Smith says. All of the more than 100 characters had to be modeled, rigged for animation, and set up with SCEE's proprietary facial animation system. Then they all had to have their facial expressions modified to match the video reference of the live actor being modeled. All of this was done four times for each character to take into account one high-resolution cinematic model and three in-game levels of detail.

Another Eyetronics software package, Liquid Faces, enabled Sony to shave weeks off of the character modeling process, according to Smith. Sony used Liquid Faces to automatically morph scanned faces to Sony's custom template.

SCEE developers used a facial skeletal system developed in-house to make the template. The system uses joints to simulate the actions of muscles in the face, and by combining the muscle movements, the developers can produce smiles, anger, shock or any other emotion.

"This presented us with a problem, however," Smith says. "Everyone's face had different proportions, and we needed the simulated muscles to line up under the skin in the correct positions, or else very strange things would happen."

That's where Liquid Faces came in. Not only did it change the shape of the character's skin, it aligned the joints into their correct positions to match the scanned actor's face to the template.

"We had a single face template model, which had the required level of detail, a facial skeletal system, and all the basic expressions and speech shapes ready to use," Smith says. "Liquid Faces took the raw scan data and this template and morphed the low-resolution models to match the high-resolution scan. Then...viola, one in-game character head. We just added hair and tweaked the animation to match the actor's and it was ready to go."

The software allowed SCEE developers to go from initial scans of the characters to a completed model in a day and a half. Without Liquid Faces, it would have taken two weeks or more to model them from scratch, Smith says.

Character files were then transferred to Alias/Wavefront's Maya 3D animation software for final rendering. Actors' motions were captured with an Ascension motion tracker and brought into Kaydara Filmbox, a software program that integrates the motion data with the 3D characters for real-time display.
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AMD, Epic Demo 64-Bit Game

AMD last week demonstrated a 64-bit developmental version of Unreal Tournament 2003 from Epic Games on a system based on the upcoming AMD Athlon 64 processor.

AMD expects its upcoming Athlon 64 processor to be the only 64-bit, x86-based PC processor for desktop and mobile computing. It is designed to run 64-bit applications at full performance, expanding data capacity, and simultaneously run 32-bit software applications with no performance penalty.

Technology innovations include a scalable system bus using HyperTransport technology, designed to provide more than one and half times the throughput of competing processors. And an integrated memory controller will boost performance by connecting the processor directly to the memory and reducing memory latency.
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NUMBEROLOGY

Nielsen//NetRatings Announces First Digital Media Universe Rankings

Nielsen//NetRatings last week announced the first rankings report measuring the Digital Media Universe (DMU), with its view of Web and digital media usage.

As part of the Nielsen//NetRatings NetView (formerly AMS) service, DMU tracking combines Web-based traffic with Internet applications and browser channel audience data, including comprehensive measurement of AOL proprietary channels, instant messaging applications, media players, ISP applications (non-browsing), wireless content systems, Web phones, news and information toolbars, connected games, weather applications, auction assistants and shopping assistants.

Leading the Top 10 Parent Companies, both Microsoft and AOL Time Warner attracted more than 92.6 million unique visitors during the month of October 2002. Yahoo! drew 79.8 million unique visitors, while visitors to the United States Government Web sites totaled more than 38.3 million visitors. Google garnered nearly 37.7 million unique visitors, placing fifth overall.

Yahoo! leads the Top 10 Brands online, with nearly 79.8 million unique visitors, followed closely by Microsoft at 78.8 million visitors last month. MSN claimed the No. 3 spot with 75.5 million unique visitors, while the AOL brand drew nearly 73.3 unique visitors. Google attracted nearly 37.7 million visitors as the No. 5 online brand. Other Top 10 brands included Real, Amazon, and eBay.

Also, the average Internet user spent 52 hours per month in 54 sessions, viewing 1,307 Web pages for 57 seconds each.

http://www.netratings.com/
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Consumers Will Spark Rise in Recordable DVD Sales

Recordable DVD drives, media and applications will experience dramatic growth next year and through at least 2006, Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research, told attendees of the Recordable DVD Council (RDVC) ISV meeting last week. Speaking to more than 100 executives from hardware, software and solutions firms prior to the beginning of Comdex, he emphasized that sophisticated consumers and digital Darwinism or the laws of nature should guide firm's product plans, not bold new experiments.

"When the computer industry stalled this year, IT manufacturers and suppliers finally told the marketplace that the majority of technology they bought to do everything was actually too complicated, too impractical and too expensive," he said. "Many in the industry are now approaching video and DVD with the same philosophy, saying they will succeed by delivering the all-in-one box that incorporates TV, DVD, MP3, PVR, game console, home RF and more.

"These new life forms will appear and disappear because they are based on what the company can do, rather than on what the consumer wants," he emphasized.

Peddie, a digital-media market researcher and consultant, pointed out that people are buying digital cameras and camcorders because they want to preserve memories, share them later with others and simply for pure enjoyment. "Photography is an almost universal pursuit," he said. "Regardless of a person's life stage, education or profession, they like to create their own video content and share it. This will provide the momentum for triple-digit sales at least through 2006 for cameras, camcorders, DVD writers and creation software."

During his presentation, Peddie said DVD Forum-standard DVD drives had overcome the price and compatibility hurdles to stimulate consumer demand. He pointed out that multifunction drives - supporting DVD-R, -RW and/or -RAM as well as CD-R/RW - have street prices as low as $249 and write-once media can be purchased for as little as $.60 a disc. In addition, the new DVD recorders that incorporate both a hard drive and DVD drive are priced under $500, making them affordable for people to capture, edit and watch television programs on their own terms.

While he acknowledged that there is a CE and PC convergence taking place, he emphasized that consumers - the business environment mediators -- determine which products survive or fail, and their decisions are usually based on widely accepted standards.

For more information on Jon Peddie Research or a copy of Peddie's presentation, call JPR at 415.435.9368; fax 435.8214 or jon@jonpeddie.com.

http://www.dvdforum.org
http://www.rdvdc.org/english
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DIGERATI ILLUMINATI

Oregon3D Appoints Educational Directors

Oregon3D Inc., The Center for Visualization Technologies, last week appointed Mark Noland its educational director and Phillip Guzzo as associate educational director. Their experience includes animating and directing for a variety of companies including Will Vinton Studios, Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports and The Golf Channel.

Oregon3D offers courses and products on Alias|Wavefront, REAL VIZ and Right Hemisphere. The facility also provides instruction on Discreet's compositing system products, flint, flame and smoke. Equipped with an SGI Onyx 3200 supercomputer, 24 high-end graphics workstations and a six station Octane systems lab, Oregon3D's 8,000 square foot facility provides the working environment and equipment used by professional creative artists in the film, game, TV and visualization industries.

Noland and Guzzo are both certified discreet instructors for 3ds max, flint, flame and smoke respectively and have created a discreet systems lab at Oregon3D that includes six Octane flint, flame and smoke systems each with their own stone (video clip storage), NTSC monitoring and digitizing capabilities. The room is also equipped with a high-resolution large screen projector for centralized class viewing of exercises and examples.

http://www.oregon3d.com
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F.Y.I.
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 and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review.

Send your interactive multimedia business, product, people, event, or technology news by email only to: spectrum1@broadviewnet.net.

If you contact companies or organizations mentioned here, please tell them you saw the news in Spectrum. Thanks.
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