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Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

SIGGRAPH 2004: THE VIEW FROM LA-LA LAND

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INDUSTRY NEWS

September 2004

SIGGRAPH 2004: THE VIEW FROM LA-LA LAND

With 25,000 people from six continents in attendance at SIGGRAPH, the inside of the Los Angeles Convention Center looked like a mini-Hollywood, with the latest in broadcast, video and film technology on display. But the 200-plus exhibits themselves weren’t just restricted to the entertainment industry; others included military, government, gaming, biomedical imaging, remote sensing and storage solutions.

The five days in LA produced some buzz regarding product releases and some business announcements. Some of the most interesting news to come out from the conference are highlighted here.

  • SPEC/GPC’s Application Performance Characterization (SPECapc) project group demonstrated an upcoming SolidWorks 2005 benchmark and outlined its plans for updated Maya 6, Unigraphics NX2 and 3ds max 6 benchmarks. As with the SPECapc for SolidWorks 2003 benchmark, the new version is being developed jointly by SolidWorks and SPECapc. It will represent the patterns of a typical SolidWorks user working in real-world models. Performance will be measured for graphics, CPU and I/O functionality. SPECapc announced that it will be working over the next several months to provide new versions of its performance evaluation software for systems running Maya 6 and Unigraphics NX2. The group also plans to augment the current 3ds max 6 benchmark, introduced in June, with more scenes and animated environments. Earlier this year, SPECapc released an updated benchmark for Solid Edge Version 14 CAD/CAM software.
  • NVIDIA Corporation NVIDIA Corporation has started its Gelato Developer program. Open Inventor version 5.0 Open Inventor 5.0 from Mercury Computer Systems. Motion
  • Discreet announced it is developing a next-generation shared storage solution with DataDirect Networks and Silicon Graphics. The new high-performance Storage Area Network (SAN) is being developed to address the demand for more-cost-effective, real-time solutions capable of handling multi-user collaboration for 2K and 4K film projects, as well as high-definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) programming. The technology, based on DataDirect networks’ shared storage systems and the SGI InfiniteStorage Shared Filesystem CXFS, will help post facilities manage the increasing complexity of post-production projects, and will also provide the necessary bandwidth to support the growing popularity of the digital intermediate process in feature film production.
  • NVIDIA Corporation announced its Gelato Developer program, which provides royalty-free access to all application programming interfaces (APIs) for the company’s Gelato final-frame rendering software. The company also unveiled its Scene Graph Software Development Kit, an object-oriented programming library (C++) that simplifies and speeds the development of high-performance 3D applications. The library also provides a comprehensive set of classes developers may combine and extend to create fast and reliable graphics applications, such as visual simulation, manufacturing, simulation-based design, scientific visualization, broadcast video and CAD, among others.
  • Alias has signed an agreement to acquire Kaydara, a developer of real-time 3D character animation and motion editing solutions in the entertainment industry. Kaydara’s products — most notably MOTIONBUILDER and Kaydara FBX — will continue to support all current industry platforms and will be sold as standalone products under the Alias brand name.
  • Mercury Computer Systems has released version 5.0 of Open Inventor, an object-oriented, cross-platform 3D graphics API for C++ and Java developers. New features include support for programmable shaders, OpenGL 1.5 texture extensions, direct import of OpenFlight files, improved transparency, support for X3D nodes (including geometry nodes), FastEdit mode and an interactive scene graph editing tool called ivTune.
  • BOXX Technologies and D2 Software have agreed on a co-branding relationship to offer customers in the post-production and visual effects community a turnkey digital compositing system featuring D2 Software’s NUKE. This Academy Award-winning product is a 2D and 3D digital compositing software application that gives artists a flexible, efficient, cost-effective and full-featured toolset with which to combine and manipulate scanned film, video plates and computer-generated imagery. BOXX also showcased its 4200 and 8200 workstations, featuring PCI Express technology and DDR2.
  • ART VPS, a ray-tracing hardware provider, has teamed up with SpheronVR, a maker of 360-degree digital cameras, to provide a complete solution for 3D high-dynamic range imaging (HDRI). SpheronVR’s mobile camera and processing software enable users to generate 360-degree HDR images for use in digital and print media. The system outputs to 50 Mpixels of full spherical image data and can capture a dynamic range of 26 f-stops at one pass. Images can then be brought into popular 3D applications and integrated into scenes. Rendering can be done with an ART VPS PURE card or RenderDrive system.
  • Apple has begun shipping Motion, its motion graphics and design software that was announced at NAB in April. Motion introduces Behaviors that use procedural animation techniques to create natural simulations, such as gravity and wind, or multifaceted interaction between multiple objects, such as attraction and repulsion. Motion also features an advanced particle engine that enables artists to quickly and easily apply realistic particle presets, such as smoke, sparkles and fire to any animation, with instant previewing of multiple filters and particle effects. The Dashboard feature gives users contractual, semi-transparent floating palettes that provide the tools and slider parameters for objects being animated on screen. Motion also includes 25 "Gestures" that enable users to focus on the creative process, rather than searching for keyboard commands or menu items.
  • Kodak announced its 3D Stereo Display, which does not require viewers to wear glasses or headgear of any type. With the Kodak display, images are viewed in true, binocular stereo vision — exactly the same way that the human eye works in real life. Pupil imaging eliminates crosstalk, which — when combined with the virtual image optical design — eliminates sources of eyestrain found in other autostereoscopic solutions. The desktop display has a 45°x36° field of view which gives viewers the feeling of floating in a movie theater about 1.5 screen heights away from the screen. It also provides a resolution of 1280x1024 pixels and large 32mm viewing pupils.
  • Sharp Systems released its Actius RD3D autostereo notebook. It features a 15-inch XGA (1024 x 768) TFT 3D display that can switch between 2D and 3D displays. While it can be used as a typical notebook for e-mail and word processing, it can be used for advanced applications such as molecular modeling, CAD, medical imaging and gaming. It also has 512 MB DDR SDRAM, a 60GB hard drive and an advanced optical drive, making the notebook capable of viewing 3D DVD content.
  • SGI hosted presentations at its Scalable Graphics Theater, illustrating the power of visualization with topics spanning scalability, flexibility, collaboration and the importance of system architecture and key tools for visualization. The company also showed developers how its software tools can help them innovate and discover scalable and cross-platform visualization applications, and how its Visual Area Networking (VAN) allow customers to accelerate their work processes by giving end-users far greater visualization capabilities to universally store, access and share enormous and complex data sets with anyone, anywhere and at any time. SGI also announced, along with the OpenGL Architecture Review Board, the latest version of the OpenGL specification, incorporating support for OpenGL Shading Language, and that Vanderbilt University selected the Onyx4 UltimateVision visualization system to power its new state-of-the-art Advanced Computing Center for Research and Education.
  • HP has announced a new line of workstations: the xw4200, xw6200 and the xw8200. The dual-processor HP Workstation xw6200 and xw8200 offer standards-based 64-bit computing by using the new Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology (Intel EM64T); this technology expands addressable memory space up to 256 terabytes. Both also use the new Intel E7525 chipset and next-generation Intel Xeon processors. The HP Workstation xw4200 features Intel’s 925X Express chipset and the latest Pentium 4 processors with Hyper-Threading technology at speeds up to 3.6 GHz with an 800MHz front side bus.
  • REALVIZ launched REALVIZ ImageModeler 4.0 for Windows, the latest version of the company’s image-based 3D modeling software. Using advanced algorithms, ImageModeler 4.0 extracts 3D information from stills to help measure the 3D space created and construct accurate 3D models with highly realistic textures. REALVIZ also announced the release of MatchMover Pro 3.0, a Motion Capture (MoCap) module offering users the ability to perform motion capture from synchronized image sequences with total flexibility. REALVIZ released the Windows version of ImageModeler 4.0 last month, and the Macintosh version will be released in the fourth quarter of this year. MatchMover Pro 3.0 will be released between Q4 2004 and Q1 2005.
  • 5DT has released a new advanced Head Mounted Display (HMD) Series. Among those include: the 5DT 800-26 HMD, featuring Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) technology, 26° field of view (FOV) and 800x600 resolution; the 5DT 800-40 HMD with Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology, 40° FOV and 800x600 resolution; and the 5DT 800-45 Virtual Monocular Display with Effective 600 Circular Resolution, OLED technology and 45° FOV. The HMD consists of two miniature displays that are mounted in front of the user’s eyes with a head mount. It is normally fitted with a Head Tracker, which tracks the position (x, y and z) and orientation angle (yaw, pitch and roll) of the user’s head.
  • Discreet, a division of Autodesk, Inc., announced 3ds max 7, the newest version of its 3D modeling, animation and rendering software. Additional features include Normal Mapping, Mental Ray 3.3, Parameter Collector, Parameter Editor, Edit Poly Modifier, Skin Wrap Deformer, Snapping Workflow, Paint Selections, and Turbo Smooth. Another feature, Mobile Gaming Development Tools, contains native mobile 3D asset creation with new JSR 184 exporter and per camera diagnostic tools.
  • Illumination Technologies presented the 4900 AutoCal Auto Calibrating Lightsource, featuring the company’s exclusive Light-Lock Light feedback. The 4900 maintains light output to within 1% over lamp life, and has an output voltage regulation and output noise of 0.1% (RMS). When used with the 4910 SmartCal Auto Calibrating Lightsource, it has +/-3% lamp-to-lamp repeatability and +/-4% unit-to-unit repeatability.
  • Nucoda Ltd demonstrated new features for its Film Master film and video finishing solution. Features include Virtual Film Outs for previewing frames in native 2K resolution with accurate 3D LUTs; a new easy-to-use timeline with versioning, job/shuttle controls and monitor tools; real-time full-screen grading options with the ability to export metadata to other packages; an Open FX API for image effects and color management; and fully scriptable operation, allowing render farm integration. For the video market, Nucoda debuted a new video batch capture capability and a range of options for VTR emulation to provide users with a more efficient workflow.

SIGGRAPH 2005 will take place July 31 to August 4, 2005, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.


Late Breaking News

The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) will hold its GEOINT 2004 Symposium on October 12-14 in New Orleans, LA. The symposium will assess how geospatial technologies can further the national security agenda. The keynote speaker will be former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, who served under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. For more information on the symposium or to register, please visit www.geoint2004.com.

BFi OPTiLAS has announced that QImaging has released Real Time Viewing (RTV) for the MicroPublisher camera line. The MicroPublisher RTV cameras — which combine video camera frame rates with a digital FireWire camera — features ultra-high resolution images with video-like, full field of view frame rates of up to 30 f/sec. BFi OPTiLAS is also shipping the Retiga 1300R FireWire Digital CCD camera. Available in monochrome, cooled or non-cooled, the Retiga 1300R provides 1.34 million pixels to produce high-quality images for bright field, dark field, fluorescence and many other applications. Both cameras ship with software for real-time image preview and capture for both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS-based systems.

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