MICROSOFT UNVEILS EXPRESSION FAMILY OF DESIGNER TOOLS

Microsoft has announced the release of Expression, a family of professional tools for the design and production of enhanced user experiences and rich content for the Web and Windows Vista platform.

The announced products are Acrylic Graphic Designer: a painting, illustration and effects tool for creating graphic designs; Sparkle Interactive Designer: a user-interface design tool for modern application development using the Windows Presentation Foundation; and Quartz Web Designer: a layout and design tool for creating Web sites.

Incorporating design concepts into the development process has typically been difficult due to communication and technical gaps between design and development teams. With its Expression family of products, Microsoft bridges these gaps by leveraging common file types and languages such as Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML), HTML and ASP.NET and through seamless integration with Microsoft Visual Studio®, which greatly simplifies development processes and maximizes the creative solutions that teams can deliver. These tools enable designers to explore a wide range of creative options using vector and bitmaps graphics, 3-D content, rich text, media, animation and interactivity, and then to integrate those designs seamlessly with developer code and functionality created using the Visual Studio family of professional development tools.

More information about the Microsoft Expression family can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/expression.

ON2 TECHNOLOGIES’ FLIX LINE OF FLASH VIDEO AUTHORING TOOLS

On2 Technologies have announced the immediate availability of its Flix line of Flash Video authoring tools for creating high quality Flash video content for Macromedia’s newly-launched family of Flash Player 8 products.

On2’s VP6 compression technology – integrated in both Macromedia’s Flash Player 8 and On2’s Flix line of Flash Video authoring tools – delivers pristine quality Flash video imagery, unparalleled in the industry. Customers can experience “before and after” Flash video clips, demonstrating On2’s dramatic enhancements to image quality, by visiting http://www.on2.com/video_samples/flix-video-samples.

On2 Flix Products for Creating High Quality Flash Player 8 Content
On2’s new VP6-enhanced Flix family of video compression technologies include:

Flix Pro – a powerful Flash Video encoder that enables users to edit, crop, convert and post video to the web in minutes;
Flix Engine – enables users to add Flix’s Flash Video encoding capabilities to their software and enables website visitors to convert their video, audio and image files to Flash. The Flix Engine also enables users to allow anyone within the intranet to have access to Flix solutions.

The On2 family of Flix video authoring tools for Flash Player 8 is available immediately with prices starting at $249 for Flix Pro, and can be purchased online at http://flix.on2.com/.…

CANON XL H1

Canon Australia have released their first DVC featuring high definition – the XL H1

The HDV camera uses the same component-based design as the XL1, allowing parts such as the lens, microphone and viewfinder to be swapped for different units.

The XL H1 uses three 1/3-inch 16:9 interlaced CCDs. It captures at resolutions up to 1,920-x-1,080 and at frame rates of 60i, 30p and 24p. Canon doesn’t state this explicitly, but the HDV specifications allows for 1,920-x-1,080 capture only at 60i, 30p and 24p are captured at 1,440-x-720. It is likely that the UK version of this camcorder will capture at 50i (1,920-x-1,080) and 25p (1,440-x-720).

The camcorder features Canon’s DIGIG DV II image processor, which maintains the correct colour space for HD, SD and still images. The XL H1 can capture still images at 1,920-x-1,080 to SD or MMC cards, using a separate Photo button, and uses the same XL-interchangeable lens mount as the XL1, XL1s and XL2. It ships with a 20x HD video lens with fluorite elements, which Canon says improves contrast, resolution and colour fidelity by reducing chromatic aberration. It offers a f/1.6 to f/3.5 aperture, with a 35mm equivalence of 38.9mm to 778mm in 16:9 mode, and 47.4mm to 954mm in 4:3 mode.

The 20x HD lens features Canon’s Super Range Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) technology, which combines a gyro sensor with a system that detects low-frequency vibrations in the CCD image and feeds this back to the stabilizer. The lens also features a 72mm filter thread, two independent ND filters (1/6 and 1/32) and focus and zoom presets.

The camcorder offers a wide range of outputs. As well as the standard FireWire I/O, the XL H1 offers HD-SDI and SD-SDI output for direct connection to broadcast systems and video editing systems (for uncompressed capture). …

SANDISK “U3 SMART” FLASH DRIVE

SanDisk have introduced its first USB smart drive using U3 technology, a powerful new platform that enables users to store and manage their “personal workspace” — including files, programs, passwords and settings — on a tiny device the size of a pack of gum.

SanDisk Cruzer Micro smart drives will offer a private, securely protected experience on any PC with Microsoft Windows XP or 2000 without leaving the user’s personal information on the host machine at the end of a session when the drive is removed. Cruzer Micro capacities are large enough to accommodate numerous U3 smart software programs as well as large files such as music, digital images, charts, graphics presentations and word documents.

SanDisk Cruzer Micro smart drives will be shipped with a number of pre-installed programs, including CruzerSync, which synchronizes the user’s Outlook email, attachments, calendar, contacts and personal documents on the device, and allows users to edit, send and receive emails from any PC even if Outlook is not pre-installed on it. Other programs are also available for download.

SanDisk Cruzer Micro smart drives with U3 technology, will be available in the US from October, and international markets from the first quarter of 2006, in capacities of 512 megabytes and 1 gigabyte. Suggested retail prices are US $54.99 and US $99.99, respectively.…

ACER 17″ LCD – 6MS RESPONSE TIME & 25% BRIGHTER VIEWING PANEL

Acer Computer Australia, has announced that the 17″ AL1751 LCD monitor now features a leading 6ms response time and Acer CrystalBrite technology for 25 per cent brighter views.

By applying an ultra-fine, highly-polished coating to the LCD screen, Acer’s unique CrystalBrite technology provides users with more intense colour saturation, superior contrast ratio and sharper photo images. The final coating to the screen prevents the diffusion of surrounding light and internal rays, meaning that colours are read more accurately, images are built quicker on the screen and overall, the effect gives users a 25 per cent brighter screen compared to standard displays.

This slim and lightweight monitor features a revolutionary bezel design that allows the monitor to be used free standing or it can be easily wall mounted using the standard base, with no need for extra brackets or fittings. This makes the AL1751 ideal for use in public display and exhibition areas where this flexibility will enable almost any set design to be created. All connections are housed in the base of the unit which also removes the unsightly tangle of connections necessary with some other monitors.

The Acer AL1751 is available now for $599 inc GST.…

ALIEN SKIN EYE CANDY 5 BUNDLE

Alien Skin Software have released the Eye Candy 5 Bundle, a suite of 30 versatile, Adobe Photoshop-compatible filters. The Eye Candy 5 Bundle includes full versions of Eye Candy 5: Impact, Nature and Textures and renders a wide variety of beautiful effects.

Eye Candy 5: Impact creates chrome, bevels, glass buttons, perspective shadows, and more. Eye Candy 5: Nature simulates a variety of natural phenomena, including fire, smoke, rust, snow and ice. Eye Candy 5: Textures collects 10 seamless texture generators and produces surfaces such as snake and lizard skin, fur, brick, stone and wood.

The Eye Candy 5 series refines the features of Eye Candy 4000 and supports the latest digital imaging innovations. Eye Candy 5 uses familiar keyboard shortcuts and is scriptable with Photoshop actions. Presets provide over 200 quick and easy effects. An improved settings management system makes it easier to browse, share and add presets. Eye Candy 5 works with 16-bit and CMYK images. So color transitions are smoother, with less banding, and print documents reproduce colors more accurately. Unlimited undo and redo make experimentation painless, while context-sensitive help addresses user questions.

The Eye Candy 5 Bundle has a US RRP of $199. Registered users of other Alien Skin Software products receive discount pricing when ordering direct. Online delivery is available at the Alien Skin Web site: http://www.alienskin.com.…

CHILDREN’S ANIMATED SERIES ERKY PERKY TO GO INTO PRODUCTION

Michael Boughen and Matthew Street of Ambience Entertainment, an Omnilab Group company, have announced that children’s 3D animated series Erky Perky is going into production.

The 26 part 12 minute animated series is an official co-production between CCI in Canada and Ambience Entertainment and will be directed by Ambience Entertainment’s David Webster.

“Erky Perky has been in development for a few years and it’s very exciting to finally have the opportunity to bring the characters to life for a global audience” said Webster.

Erky Perky follows the escapades of two bickering bugs, Erky and Perky, living an idyllic life on a hotdog stand who are cruelly swept away in a take-out bag and to their horror end up in a sterile suburban kitchen with no food.

“CCI is delighted to be co-producing Erky Perky and handling world television, home video and merchandising efforts,” says Arnie Zipursky, CEO of CCI Entertainment. “Kids will have an opportunity to share in the adventures the wacky adventures of Erky and Perky both on screen and off.”

The visually rich comedic series has been pre-sold to the Seven Network in Australia and YTV in Canada and will be animated at another Omnilab Group company, The Lab Sydney.

The Lab’s animation team has recently completed children’s animated film, Peter Cottontail for Classic Media in the US, as well as part animation on US feature Happily N’ever After. “It’s great to have such an experienced group of 3D artists working on this project. Their talents are really going to enhance the series’ said Ambience Entertainment’s Michael Boughen.

AUTODESK SIGNS DEFINITIVE AGREEMENT TO ACQUIRE ALIAS

Autodesk have announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Alias for $182 million in cash. This acquisition will grow Autodesk’s expertise and offerings for the design of consumer products and automotive as well as in the media and entertainment markets. Autodesk anticipates that the transaction will close within the next four to six months.

“This acquisition brings to Autodesk a highly talented group of individuals, a wealth of technologies and a great set of products,” said Carl Bass, COO of Autodesk. “Alias’ technology spans several of our most important markets and augments the synergy between our design and media businesses. Our design customers are demanding more powerful visualization, animation and publishing capabilities. Our media and entertainment customers are increasingly using the data created by our design applications for broadcast, film and games projects. By combining the technology and talents of our two companies, we will be better able to continue delivering solutions that address our customers’ complex needs.”

Alias’ product lines comprise sketching, animation, visual effects, design, modeling, rendering
and reviewing solutions. Alias MotionBuilder is Alias’ 3D character animation product, Alias FBX is widely used in the exchange and use of 3D content, and Maya is the company’s Academy Award-winning 3D application. These products will augment Autodesk’s offering in the film and video and interactive games segments. Alias StudioTools – software for design tasks from 2D sketches to production models – will add industrial design and high-end visualization capabilities to Autodesk’s manufacturing solutions. Autodesk will continue to develop the Alias product lines in conjunction with Autodesk’s complementary products and technologies.

“This acquisition is designed to leverage the strengths of both companies,” stated Doug Walker, president and CEO of Alias. “Alias’ customers will benefit from nearly $300 million in R&D spending while having access to new and complementary

Avid Announces the Avid Liquid Product Line

Avid Technology are just about to release a new Avid Liquid product line, the company’s new nonlinear editing software and hardware offerings for event videographers, government and corporate video producers, and high-end enthusiasts. Drawn from editing products formerly developed by Pinnacle Systems, the Avid Liquid family includes new versions (v.7.0) of the Avid Liquid and Avid Liquid Pro systems, both of which are packed with new features designed for users who want a single application for creation and delivery of tape, DVD and streaming media. The product line also includes new configurations and pricing for the Avid Liquid Chrome HD (v.6.1) family of solutions featuring advanced standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) I/O hardware.

Avid Liquid builds on popular Liquid features, including native HDV editing, GPU-accelerated effects, background rendering, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio with AC-3 encoding, DVD creation directly on the video editing timeline, and great value I/O hardware.

New features of Avid Liquid v.7.0 software include:
• SmartSound integration – custom music creation directly inside the Avid Liquid application.
• New multimedia format support – native editing of popular codecs including WM9, DivX, and MPEG-4 for repurposing and output of content to the Internet.
• New effects – Real-time Timewarp, Stabilize, Dream Glow, and over 50 plug-ins from the highly-regarded Commotion effects suite.
• Avid Open Timeline – native HD and SD editing on the same timeline in real time, without transcoding for fast, flexible editing regardless of format.
• Preview HDV in SD – for viewing HDV in SD on a client video monitor with Avid Liquid Pro.…

LightWork Design and Arc Technology announce collaboration

LightWork Design, the world’s leading supplier of rendering solutions for developers of advanced 3D computer graphics software, is pleased to announce a collaboration with Arc Technology, developers of the ARC+ software application.

ARC+ is one of the leaders in the architectural CAD software industry, used by more than 30 000 users worldwide. The collaboration with LightWork Design will see the full capabilities of the LightWorks rendering engine being integrated within Arc+ to give these users even higher quality rendering within their architectural design work.

ARC+ (www.arc-techno.com) is a versatile software package addressing numerous other areas of creativity, such as urban and town planning, kitchen-furniture design, aluminium profile design & manufacturing, transportation planning (train stations and airports) exhibition design, industrial facilities, and a wide variety of other design applications.

LightWorks is embedded in over 80 software applications and used by more than 1 million users worldwide. Applications that incorporate LightWorks include: 3cad from In.tres srl, Alibre Design from Alibre, ArchiCAD from Graphisoft, ARCHline.XP from CadLine, ArchiTrend from Fukui Computer, Cobalt from Ashlar, Configura and InstantPlanner from Configura Sverige AB, form.Z from auto.des.sys, ICEM Surf from ICEM, Lumen Designer from Lighting Technologies; Madric from CPU, MSC.visualNastran from MSC Software, NX from UGS, PowerShape from Delcam, Pro/CONCEPT, Pro/DESKTOP and Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire from PTC, Solid Edge from UGS, solidThinking from solidThinking Ltd., ThinkReal from Think3, trueSpace from Caligari, VectorWorks from Nemetschek NA and products from many other major CAD vendors.…