Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

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

--Web Site Content Management System Offered Free to Schools

--Sharp Grows 3D Software Developers Program
--Apple Updates Logic Pro, Logic Express

--Montreal Art Exhibit Uses "Smart Space" Tech

--IPIX Ships Interactive Studio Available with Realviz Fisheye Plug-in

--Call for Entries: Macworld Digital Art Contest
--Game Developer Mag Releases Report On Top 20 Publishers

--Miramax, Dimension, Wild Brain Ink 3D CGI Animation Deal
--Alias Completes Kaydara Acquisition, to Ship MotionBuilder 6 This Fall

--Activision Ships Shark Tale

--Moulder Joins WildTangent

--About Spectrum



Web Site Content Management System Offered Free to Schools

WebEdition Software Ltd. (http://www.Webedition-cms.com/ ) announced last week a new program in which the Web site content management system (CMS) software vendor will offer its product for free to schools throughout North America.

"September is nearly over," commented Dr. Daniel Taylor, president and CEO of WebEdition Software Ltd., "and for many school administrators and teachers, the maintenance of their Internet presence remains an issue. They are painfully aware that all too often their Web site content becomes stale because of the difficulties inherent in traditional Web site design and technology. As a result, the full potential of the school's Web site as a pedagogical and administrative tool is never realized."

To help remedy this persistent Web site maintenance problem, and, ostensibly, to enhance the professionalism of the homepages published by North American schools, WebEdition is offering the Standard Version of its software free of charge to eligible primary and secondary educational institutions. Schools that wish to take advantage of this WebEdition "School Homepage Offer" can acquire further details at the following URL: http://www.Webedition-cms.com/education/home_page_offer



Sharp Grows 3D Software Developers Program

Sharp Systems of America, a division of Sharp Electronics Corporation, reports that following the introduction of the LL-151-3D LCD flat panel monitor, Sharp's 3D Display Developer Program has more than doubled its size with the amount of participants increasing to over 100 participants through September.

The majority of participants in Sharp's 3D Developer Program consist of developers in the medical industry, including drug development and medical imaging applications such as surgical preparation and diagnosis. Other participants in the program include developers in orthodontics, mapping/GIS, oil & gas, CAD and other computer aided design applications, entertainment, education, government, and others.

Sharp's 3D Display Developer Program is a free program designed to assist software developer's support of the new 3D display technology that allows 'out of the screen' 3D visualization without 3D glasses. The developer program is open to software developers who wish to write or modify existing software to support the Sharp 3D display and offers the following:
* a documented software developers kit
* discounts on 3D Display products
* Website area for technical support
* membership to the Sharp3D Partners Program including link to the developer's Website
* joint marketing opportunities

Developed jointly by Sharp Corporation and Sharp Laboratories Europe, Ltd. (SLE), Sharp's TFT 3D LCD technology reportedly offers a sense of depth and presence not previously available in LCD displays. The TFT 3D LCD, which can switch between 2D and 3D display modes, allows the monitor to display dynamic 3D images for realistic visualization of complex geometry.

Using a parallax barrier, light from the LCD is divided so that different patterns reach the viewer's left and right eyes. The direction in which light leaves the display is controlled so that the left and right eyes see different images. When centered in front of the display, each eye receives the correct visual information for the brain to process. This makes it possible for the image on the screen to appear in three dimensions without the user having to wear special goggles.



Apple Updates Logic Pro, Logic Express

Apple last week introduced Logic Pro 7 and Logic Express 7, the next major releases of its music-creation and audio-production software applications. At $999, Logic Pro 7 includes new software instruments such as Sculpture, a component-modeling-based synthesizer; UltraBeat, a drum machine; and new plug-ins including Guitar Amp Pro, a guitar-amplifier simulator. Along with over 100 workflow enhancements, new mastering plug-ins and support for Apple Loops, Logic Pro 7 debuts distributed audio processing, technology that lets audio pros tap into a network of Macs to expand available Digital Signal Processing (DSP) power.

Logic Express 7, a $299, streamlined version of Logic, provides a basic set of tools for students, educators and advanced hobbyists. Logic Express 7 and Logic Pro 7 both come with support for projects from GarageBand, Apple's consumer music-creation software, offering users a smooth migration path to high-end audio production.

New software instruments in Logic Pro 7 include Sculpture and UltraBeat with more options to create unique sounds and generate drum and bass sequences. Sculpture simulates the behavioral characteristics of a vibrating string or bar and lets users control and create their own sounds. The UltraBeat drum machine uses several types of synthesis including FM, subtractive, sample-based, and component modeling. It consists of up to 25 independently modifiable drum voices and includes an integrated step sequencer.

New plug-ins in Logic Pro 7 include Guitar Amp Pro, a guitar amplifier simulator that reproduces the sounds of 11 of well-known guitar amplifiers. Users can configure their own real life sounding amplifier with detailed options including 14 speaker cabinet selections, microphone type and placement, as well as EQ type and settings. Additionally, Logic Pro 7 includes new mastering plug-ins, such as Linear Phase EQ and professional metering.

Logic Pro 7 includes support for Apple Loops, an open-standard file format that allows users to find a loop by instrument, genre or mood. Apple Loops in Logic Pro 7 provide flexibility for changing and adjusting the sound and notes in a loop. Productivity enhancements include song templates, channel strip save and recall, professional shuffle, and auto crossfade edit modes, accessible from the arrange window. Additionally, users can compile and burn CDs to the Red Book standard with WaveBurner, a stand-alone mastering and CD burning application included with Logic Pro 7.




Montreal Art Exhibit Uses "Smart Space" Tech

Inside a Canadian art gallery, visitors move multi-colored balls around the room. As they do so, sounds emerge, creating a unique audio composition that changes with every movement of the balls and the visitors.

The exhibition, called "Tontauben," which means "clay pigeon," is the first stage of a larger project entitled "Transduction" created by artist Marc Fournel, and relies on Smart Space technology developed by Ubisense. Tontauben opened September 18 at OBORO in Montreal and runs until October 23, 2004.

Fournel, who is an artist-in-residence at OBORO, a contemporary art organization, has long been involved with location-based technologies, having created a number of previous interactive exhibits that create video and audio content by analyzing the position and the movement in space of the users.

"To offer physical elements that can be used as interfaces by a group of visitors involves them fully in the piece," says Fournel. "This simple realization was an important step in the development of my artistic reflection and has deeply influenced my work."

To create the piece, Fournel positioned four UbiSensors in the room to create a location-aware network (or Smart Space) and placed UbiTag's inside five plastic balls about the size of softballs. Together, the sensors and tags provide the real-time physical positions of the balls to within six inches anywhere in the room. This location data is read by a second system, Pure Data, a real-time graphical programming environment for audio, video and graphical processing, which produces the various sound algorithms for the exhibit.




IPIX Ships Interactive Studio Available with Realviz Fisheye Plug-in

IPIX InfoMedia, a developer of software for 360-degree panoramic photography, and Realviz, a developer of imaging software for creating panoramas, last week released IPIX Interactive Studio with the Realviz fisheye plug-in extension. The combined solution supports a wider variety of shot-capture modes for fisheye photography for higher-resolution panoramic images.

In addition to the two-shot setup for capturing full 360-degree images that IPIX traditionally supports, the Realviz fisheye plug-in extends support for 3-, 4-, and 5-shot capture modes of digital SLR cameras used by professional photographers.

The Realviz fisheye extension is exclusively available from IPIX InfoMedia as a plug-in to Interactive Studio V1.3.

The newly released software provides:
* intelligent auto-stitching feature
* integrated image editing, compositing and filter tools
* batch functionality for stitching, capping, scaling, compressing and converting output
* support for multiple output formats including Macromedia Shockwave, VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language), X3D and others, with added control over scaling and resolution
* scalable platform with modular plug-ins that accommodate changing photography business needs




Call for Entries: Macworld Digital Art Contest

The Macworld Conference & Expo Digital Art Contest is now accepting entries for its 7th Annual Digital Art Contest. The international juried competition is open to all Macintosh digital artists working in 2D and 3D.

Among this year's judges are Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, pop artist Peter Max, NAPP's Scott Kelby, and Adobe's Russell Brown.

Thirty images will be chosen and premiered at Macworld Conference & Expo at Moscone Center in San Francisco Jan 11-14, 2005. The gallery will also travel as an exhibition to art galleries across the US and Canada and will be displayed on the Macworld Conference & Expo Web site.

Digital art and digital graphics related prizes from the contest's many sponsors will be awarded to the winning artists. Companies include, Corel, Wacom, Curious Labs, Pandromeda, IdN, Wacom, Curious Labs, Synthetik, Canto, Iomega, Peachpit Press, SF Flyer Pro, Gluon, MacAddict, Photoshop User, and Allume Systems.

The deadline to enter is Nov. 18, 2004. For complete information, prize list, judges, rules and regulations and entry form, visit http://www.macworldexpo.com/gallery .


Game Developer Mag Releases Report On Top 20 Publishers

Game Developer magazine's October issue features the 2nd annual report on the Top 20 game publishers. The study profiles the world's leading game publishers, analyzes the types of games the companies release, and explores their relationships with external studios.

The publication this year overhauled the criteria used for ranking. Although revenue is still a key factor, the recent survey also measured game review scores, number of titles canceled, producer quality, and the catalog of original IP to determine rankings.

As a result of expanding criteria, the Top 20 list had a few surprises:

Japanese giants Capcom and Bandai, both featured in last year's Top 20, have dropped out of the chart and been replaced by new entries, Codemasters and Empire Interactive, two U.K. publishers.

"We revised our survey criteria this year to better reflect for developers how publishers perform across the board," said Jamil Moledina, editor-in-chief of Game Developer magazine. "This is based on the fact that many developers value their working relationships with publishers and their ability to cooperatively create high quality games as much as the revenue the games generate."

For the second year running, Electronic Arts (EA) tops the publisher league. EA performed consistently well across all the Top 20 criteria. The publisher boasts the highest revenue, the external development studios ranked them as best to work with and EA's marketing prowess was considered second only to that of Sony Computer Entertainment.

Other highlights from the report include:
* Four publishers now have more than $1 billion in revenue. Take-Two Interactive is the new addition based on the strength of the Grand Theft Auto franchise.
* EA, Nintendo and Sony continue to grow.
* Microsoft climbed the most spots from last year, ranking No 2 in this year's survey, thanks to increased sales of the Xbox and a strong reputation with developers. Last year Microsoft was No 9.
* EA continued its push towards titles based on licenses with more than 51% of all its releases falling in this category. Vivendi Universal Games, Activision, THQ and Acclaim also invested heavily in licenses and sequels.
* Top 20 newcomer Empire topped the list of original IP games with 64%. Microsoft followed closely with 56%.

Game Developer magazine's 2004 Top 20 Publishers guide will be available for $5.95 on most major newsstands and bookstores through November 12.



Miramax, Dimension, Wild Brain Ink 3D CGI Animation Deal

Miramax Films, Dimension Films and Wild Brain, Inc., a producer of animated entertainment, announced a multi-year, multi-film agreement to co-finance and co-produce computer-generated (CGI) animated films. Under the agreement, Miramax/Dimension and Wild Brain will each finance half of the production on agreed projects. Miramax/Dimension will distribute the films worldwide in all media.

The agreement also gives Miramax/Dimension the opportunity to distribute Wild Brain's self-financed, direct-to-video productions over the next three years. Similarly, Wild Brain has the opportunity to access Miramax/Dimension's worldwide distribution pipeline for films in which it produces and pays releasing costs.

The first joint production is expected to be "Opus," which Craig Mazin ("Scary Movie 3") will adapt from the comic strip, "Bloom County," created by Berkeley Breathed.

Founded in 1994 by Jeff Fino, John Hays and Phil Robinson, Wild Brain has created characters and produced animation including the Disney Channel's new preschool television series "Higglytown Heroes"; television commercials for Coca-Cola, Nike, and Novartis Lamisil, among others; and short films including "Hubert's Brain".



Alias Completes Kaydara Acquisition, to Ship MotionBuilder 6 This Fall

Alias last week completed acquisition of Kaydara, a developer of real-time 3D character animation and motion editing solutions for the entertainment industry. The acquisition unites 3D product development in Toronto and Montreal. This is Alias's first major step since finalizing its independence from SGI.

Operating under the Alias name, Kaydara will remain in Montreal and current president Michel Besner will stay with the company and join Alias's executive management team. Kaydara products, most notably Motionbuilder and FBX, will continue to support current industry platforms and will be sold as stand-alone products under the Alias brand name. Alias MotionBuilder 6 is expected to ship this fall.




Activision Ships Shark Tale

Find out what happens when a fast-talking fish tells a great white lie in DreamWorks' Shark Tale video game, available now from Activision, Inc. Featuring a hip underwater culture and funky tunes, gamers immerse themselves in the world of Reef City as they step into the fins of Oscar, a little fish who is constantly "fin-agling" his way out of trouble. Players will dance, race, fight, explore, and brave their way through more than 25 movie-inspired and game-exclusive levels.

DreamWorks' Shark Tale for PlayStation2, Xbox, and GameCube is available at SRP $50. The $30 Game Boy Advance and PC versions each feature different adventures.

The PlayStation2 and Xbox versions feature dance pad support. Points earned while busting moves to the uniquely choreographed dance missions help Oscar make a name for himself and allow players to unlock special items. Whether getting funky in a dance challenge, or dodging traffic while careening through the bustling metropolis of Reef City, players will experience the vibe of the movie thanks to remixed and licensed R&B, funk, reggae and hip-hop music from top artists.

Working in conjunction with the DreamWorks animation team, DreamWorks' Shark Tale was developed for the console platforms by Edge of Reality, for the Game Boy Advance by Vicarious Visions, and for the PC by Amaze Entertainment.




Moulder Joins WildTangent

WildTangent, an online game publisher, announced last week that Stuart Moulder has joined the company as vice president of WildTangent, and will oversee its WildStudio division, which includes a number of game-development studios.

Prior to WildTangent, Moulder was general manager of Microsoft's PC games business, and was responsible for several franchises including: Age of Empires I and II and Age of Mythology, Halo (Xbox and PC), Rise of Nations and Dungeon Siege. Moulder also worked at the ImagiNation Network as well as managing Microsoft's game site the Zone.

WildTangent also announced it has reached 90 million unique users of its WebDriver software, with consumers downloading WebDriver at the rate of more than 160 thousand copies per day, reportedly making WebDriver the largest video game platform in the world. WildTangent's retail games business sells games to consumers through online partners including Yahoo, MSN, AOL Instant Messenger, Lycos, Verizon, BellSouth, Earthlink, HP, Compaq, ATI, and Logitech. This distribution has fueled more than 150 million plays of WildTangent games in the past six months.

Moulder will be responsible for the development of all WildTangent's online retail games, as well as delivering its branded games for leading global brands including Nike, Coca-Cola, and Daimler Chrysler.




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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