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 has started its Gelato
Open Inventor 5.0 from Mercury Computer Systems.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.