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Side Effects Software was showing their new Houdini 5.5. As always they have added more powerful node-based features including new Compositing operators integrated into their 3D software. A major development emphasis seems to be on the interface, which has been made simpler to use, with more drag-and-drop functions, simplified keying for character animation, and a new help CD with tutorials and on-screen training videos. For many years, Side Effects has been selling software (first Prisms then Houdini) that has been among the most powerful and flexible in the industry, but it has only been adopted by a few technical directors at most companies; with version 5.5 Side Effects seems to be saying "Houdini's not just for TD's anymore."

I found some interesting new offerings from smaller companies on the show floor. Curious Labs, the company that now maintains the popular Poser product line, gave me a preview of Poser version 5, which includes more realistic pre-built and rigged human models, dynamic simulation of hair and fabrics, shader and texture control for characters, subdivision surfaces, displacement mapping, and other features that seem very high-end for a product with a reputation as a "toy" graphics program. Bringing it directly into the high-end, BodyStudio from Reiss Studio directly imports animated Poser files into Maya, making Poser into a quick, cheap source of figures for use in Maya projects.

Idruna software was showing the new Photogenics HDR Paint System, which allows viewing and painting of High Dynamic Range images (and image sequences) in floating point space. This looks like a handy program for anyone doing work with HDRI, or for anyone compositing in Floating Point space who needs a paint and retouching utility.

SIGGRAPH has been meeting exclusively in hot Southern cities for the past decade, and will meet in San Diego in 2003. However, a rumor was circulating that SIGGRAPH 2004 might get moved to Seattle, which would be a very welcomed change of climate, as well as bringing the conference to the blossoming Washington/Vancouver region. Be sure to check SIGGRAPH's website (www.siggraph.org) for news about these upcoming conferences, which never fail to be the most important events of the year in computer graphics. Home...

Pictures and Article Copyright 2002 by Jeremy Birn www.3dRender.com