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Issue No.04 - October-December (2009 vol.16)
pp: 82-83
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
ABSTRACT
<p>This article features some of the latest advances in multimedia technology.</p>
Software developers kit for Blue Mars
Avatar Reality's software development kit is available for the upcoming massively multiplayer virtual world Blue Mars. Premiering at the 2009 Game Developers Conference, the Blue Mars SDK is offered to approved third-party developers at no cost and provides access to sample code; assets; test levels; and Avatar Reality's Sandbox editor, support wiki, and knowledge database.
Blue Mars third-party developers also will have access to an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2 game engine, which includes custom hair, skin, and cloth shaders in addition to multithreaded performance optimizations and multiplayer server integration. In addition, third-party developers gain support for in-world microtransactions, subscriptions, and game trials for customizable business models. Further benefits of using the SDK include massive simultaneous user support, a customizable development platform, Lua scripting support, a casual games API, security and content-management controls, asset pipeline support for content creation, and event-processing tools.
For consideration to be registered as a Blue Mars third-party developer and for access to the SDK, contact info@avatar-reality.com. A free content preview tool is available at http://www.bluemarsdev.com. There is no cost for approved developers to obtain the Blue Mars SDK or preview tools.
High-definition movie making
LoiLo has released Super LoiLoScope MARS, a new version of the company's video-editing software designed to make editing high-definition movies accessible for the average consumer. Using the parallel processing power of Nvidia GeForce CUDA-enabled GPUs, Super LoiLoScope MARS reportedly creates movie files up to 10 times more quickly than CPU-powered encoders.
The tool's interface is designed to help users create movies regardless of their technical knowledge. New features in this version include GPU-accelerated H.264 encoding; editing and playback of HD movies at 1,920 × 1,080 resolution; magnet output that enables multiple movie output at once; faster image editing; a search button for original thumbnail files; support for nine languages; and support for MP4, iPod, PSP, AVCHD, MP4 for Blu-ray, and YouTube HD movie formats.
For more information or to download a free trial, visit http://loilo.tv. Users who are already using LoiLoScope will receive an automatic update to enable CUDA support.
Tree modeling software upgrade
IDV has released SpeedTree 5.0, a reengineering of the company's foliage software. The updated tree and plant middleware is designed to provide game developers with better modeling control and rendering efficiency. New features of 5.0 include hand and procedural modeling, enabling control over tree geometry so users can prune branches; set force parameters to guide branch shape; and grow SpeedTree models around rocks, walls, or other imported meshes.
The tool's geometry now features the data necessary to interface SpeedTree with physics engines, and includes built-in support for Nvidia PhysX technology and the PhysX APEX Vegetation Module. SpeedTree can be brought into games and other real-time applications at any level, including as a mesh, as geometry, and as a partial integration with the user's engine. The new version offers several degrees of lighting realism, including dynamic shadows, ambient occlusion, and translucency. In addition, new settings for level of detail allow for more trees in a scene.
For more information visit http://www.speedtree.com.
Stereoscopic media player
Lightspeed Design's DepthQPlayer software is designed to offer an efficient code architecture and superior throughput for high-bandwidth playback of either locally stored or URL-accessible stereoscopic movies, as well as stereoscopic streaming video from a standard PC.
The player is available in three configurations. The Lite version is a free-to-download demonstration version. Intended as evaluation software, Lite incorporates a watermark with restricted play length and playlist functionality. Standard is a licensed commercial version. Pro is a licensed professional version. Each configuration is designed to display flicker-free, 120-Hz, stereoscopic 3D video. According to the company, the player can accept a wide variety of input formats, such as interlaced, synch-doubled, rotated side-by-sides, anamorphic side-by-sides, and above/belows.
Films can be shown during playback in any one of several selectable output formats to drive different stereoscopic displays. DepthQPlayer supports both single- and dual-graphics output pipelines. Single pipelines are for display with single-lens projectors and dual pipelines are for display with two-projector passive displays (using polarizing glasses).
The Standard workstation costs $395. The Pro version costs $995. Visit http://www.depthq.com for more information.
Multimedia system on a chip
Arasan Chip Systems announced that Movidia, a fabless semiconductor company specializing in video-editing technology for mobile phones, has licensed Arasan's secure digital SD/SDIO/MMC host IP and SD/SDIO combo device IP for its next-generation system on a chip.
Movidia's new technology is designed to let mobile users capture, edit, and share multimedia content, and can be tailored for OEMs wanting to offer video-editing features in products made for the next generation of mobile social-networking applications. For its SD/SDIO/MMC IP cores, Arasan provides source code, synthesis scripts, a test environment, and documentation along with customer support.
For more information visit http://www.arasan.com.
New release of 3D content-creation tool
Luxology announced the availability of a new version of its 3D content-creation software, Modo 401. The new version offers workflow functionality designed to let users model on top of existing geometry, see changes in their scene immediately, and reuse assets throughout the content-creation process.
Rendering enhancements in the new version of the software include caustics, dispersion, blurry refraction, volumetric lighting, and Pixar-patented deep shadows. The instance replicators allow users to render dense amounts of surface detail, such as welds, rivets, trees, and barnacles, with trillion-polygon detail. In the new version of the software, light-linking provides control over how each part of a scene is lit. Animation improvements include inverse kinematics, dynamic parenting, and channel constraints.
The new version of Modo 401 includes an optimized workflow in which artist feedback during modeling and other operations can be supplemented with a threaded preview renderer that provides the option for rapid updates and progressive rendering. Other changes in the new version include an expanded modeling toolset, more realistic materials, and new data import and export capabilities. The software runs on Mac and PC platforms and is available for 64-bit Windows.
Luxology Modo 401 costs $995. Upgrades from any existing version of Modo cost $395. For more information visit http://www.luxology.com.


Luxology Modo interface (left) and interface showing instance replicators (right).

Universal file converter
Soft Solutions has released a new file converter, called Universal Converter, that is designed to convert document files to PDF, HTML, Word, PNG, JPEG, BMP, PCX, TIFF, PS, EPS, TXT, PSD PCL, SVG, and other major file formats. According to the company, this batch file converter software can convert any printable document, preserving the original file's look and content, including fonts and graphics.
Users convert documents to the desired output format by printing it to the Universal Converter printer from any Windows application. Universal Converter can also work as a preview tool. In addition to offering conversion capabilities, Universal Converter provides security features, such as password protection and copy protection, for the converted documents. The copy-protection feature is designed to prevent others from copying a document's content.
For more information visit http://www.fileconvert.net.
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