SIGGRAPH: Discreet keeps it in character

The New Orleans show has seen a whole host of announcements from Discreet, the most important being the collaborations with many 3D-on-the-Web companies (see lower stories on previous pages) and the first appearance of Character Studio. Version 3.0 of the package adds two main new features – as well as many smaller updates and fixes. Crowd is a behavioural-based animation tool that allows crowd scenes to be created in an autonomous way. Each element in a crowd, which can be made of any type of object, is given a task and a set of reactions to external stimuli – and will proceed through a scene at their own pace until the scene is completed. Extra features have been implemented for bipeds in crowds that should allow for actions in a crowd to seem individualistic. The application also includes the ability to add up to six animatable pivot points onto a character’s hands and feet. These can be used to increase the fluidity of motion, following the real-world system of the pivot moving along the base of the foot as a step is taken. The pivot points work fully with inverse kinematics (IK). Character Studio 3.0 costs $1,495. An upgrade from version 2.0 costs $495, while from version 1.0 costs $995. It should ship towards the end of 2000. Discreet also released updated versions of its high-end compositing tools. Using the RPF format first seen in the recently-released combustion* The company rounded off its announcements with the release of Gmax. This is a free, configuarable, stripped-down version of 3D Studio Max that is designed to be bundled with 3D games as a level editor and MOD creator. Discreet’s thinking behind this to create a single authoring environment for game levels that only needs to be learned once for multiple games – and to lock the 3D students that make up a large chunk of the MOD community into the 3D Studio Max package.

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