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Issue No.05 - September/October (2006 vol.26)
pp: 94-95
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
ABSTRACT
In this issue, Tools and Products provides information about Vicon's MX motion capture system, Curtiss-Wright's PCI computer, Boxx' 3DBoxx 8300 workstation, Digital Media Professionals Pica 3D/2D graphics IP core, T-Splines' plug-in for Maya, and Andersson Technologies' SynthEyes.
Hardware
Simplifies Motion Capture
The upgrade to Vicon's MX motion capture system reportedly simplifies high camera-count motion capture setup, automates simultaneous live-action footage capture, and provides production-friendly near-infrared strobes.
The Vicon MX 20+ camera is a new hardware enhancement to the system. It offers 2 million pixels of picture capturing along with full-frame 10-bit grayscale processing. The surface-mounted, near-infrared strobes double the power of previous strobes and provide more uniform illumination in the capture zone. The strobes work with both new and previous MX cameras.
The latest version of the product includes a hardware unit that streamlines connectivity for the system. This lets customers connect up to 245 cameras in a single system while also supporting and synchronizing multiple subsystems and PCs, having direct general-purpose I/O, and capturing DVD video fully synchronized with motion capture.
For more information visit http://www.vicon.com.


Side view of a Vicon MX 20+ camera and surface-mounted, near-infrared strobes for the Vicon MX motion capture system

Low Voltage, High Performance
Curtiss-Wright released the S/DCP3-1201, a 3U compact peripheral component interconnect (PCI) single-board computer. It's reportedly the first single-board computer to feature Intel's 1.67-gigahertz Core Duo processor.
The product uses Intel's Core Duo processor for low-voltage operation and is available in both air- and conduction-cooled configurations. It provides one PCI mezzanine card expansion site and can be configured with an additional optional PCI Express XMC site on the backside of the card. The ability to support two sites on the board enables integrators to reduce the volume and cost of complete subsystem solutions.
The board comes with 2 Mbytes of level 2 advanced transfer cache, three universal serial bus (USB) 2.0 ports, six RS232 ports, and two serial advanced technology attachment (SATA) ports. Software for this product includes board support packages for operating system environments such as Windows, Solaris, and Linux.
For more information visit http://www.cwcontrols.com.


Curtiss-Wright's S/DCP3-1201 single-board computer

Multicore processing
Boxx announced the release of its 3DBoxx 8300 performance series workstation. The personal workstation has eight dual-core Intel Xeon processors that work in conjunction with the new Intel 5000X chipset to maximize productivity for visual effects professionals. The product is particularly aimed at helping graphic artists who work with multicore processing and multithreaded applications.
Performance features for the product include a 1,333-megahertz (MHz) front-side bus, 4 Mbytes of cache shared between two cores, and up to 32 gigabytes of fully buffered memory. The product also contains two PCI Express graphics ×16 slots, one PCI Express ×8 slots, four SATA ports, an on-board gigabit Ethernet card, an IEEE 1394a Firewire controller, and up to 3 tetrabytes of local storage with a 4-drive chassis.
The starting price for the 3DBoxx 8300 series workstation is $2,995. For more information visit http://www.boxxtech.com.
Software
Graphics for Embedded Devices
Digital Media Professionals and Futuremark announced the release of Pica, a next-generation 3D/2D graphics Internet Protocol (IP) core for embedded systems. Pica is a platform that covers a wide area of applications, ranging from high-performance amusement systems to low-power mobile applications.
Pica is reportedly a flexible, scalable architecture developed for system-on-chip applications, such as amusement machines, car infotainment systems, mobile phones, game consoles, and digital appliances. The internal bus structure of Pica, which conforms to Open Core Protocol, has IP interoperability to reduce design costs.
The product can be implemented as a 3D extension module, reportedly offering high-quality visual effects as well as quick and easy programming. The software development environment of Pica contains low-level drivers (libraries), emulators supported on PCs, and a suite of authoring support tools for seamless workflow from other computer graphics tools. Additionally, these development tools are compliant with the standard application programming interfaces of OpenGL ES and OpenVG.
For more information visit http://www.futuremark.com.


Screen shot from Mikage, a video developed by Digital Media Professional and Futuremark using Pica's graphics capabilities

Model Faster with Fewer Control Points
T-Splines announced the release of version 1.6 of its Maya plug-in. This plug-in helps organic nonuniform rational B-splines (NURBS) modelers by allowing them to model faster with fewer control points.
The upgrade features new tools for converting from polygons to t-splines. It also contains various bug fixes. The "Identify t-junctions when converting from Polys" tool allows lines of detail that terminate in a polygon to be converted directly to t-junctions, not extraordinary points. The benefit is that details don't need to be extended before being converted to t-splines.
For more information visit http://www.tsplines.com.


Screen shot where, using T-Splines' Maya plug-in v. 1.6, the face becomes one single t-spline surface

3D Tracking and Motion Capture
SynthEyes is Andersson Technologies' 3D-tracking and motion-capture software. The latest version of the product has improved features, such as improved auto-tracking, 3D curve tracking, and green-screen tracking.
The software can work with automatic, supervised, or mixed tracking. It can find position and direction from shadows or reflection. The image preprocessor lets users improve image quality (including blur), reduce RAM use, fix distortion and cropping, save the output to a disk, and switch image preparation setups. Other features available with the software include a perspective window for scene navigation, scrubbable RAM playback, scripting for imports and tools, and the ability to build trackers into meshes.
SynthEyes costs $399. For more information visit http://www.ssontech.com.
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