17 , 2001
Motion on the Mac
questions with Kaydara FiLMBOX Product Manager Sam Nelson
month Kaydara will bring its FiLMBOX line of products to the Mac OS X
platform. Previously available for SGI Irix, Red Hat Linux and Windows
NT, FiLMBOX is a suite of tools that provide a hub for creative production.
It's a real-time 3D content authoring and delivery tool, complete with
a character engine and animation tools. It integrates character animation,
live motion capture, camera tracking and audio and video tools in a single,
unified authoring environment. And, as a little added bonus, it lets you
commingle all of these elements in real time.
in and of itself is significant for two reasons. First, it's always good
to see non-Mac developers investing in the platform and making their wonderful
creative tools available to us. Porting applications is not an easy thing;
it takes time and money that could easily be spent in other areas. And
there's always the risk that the effort will have been wasted. Sure, research
goes into it before any moves are made, but, in the end, it's faith in
the platform and its users that drives a company to expand its offerings
into new territories.
there's nothing like it on the Mac platform right now. You just simply
can't do this kind of work on the Mac, despite the fact that the Macintosh
platform dominates creative production. So, for this reason, Kaydara's
innovative technologies will bring welcome relief to those who need to
work with a multitude of media on high-end projects.
benefit is that, what with FiLMBOX popular with the motion capture device
manufacturers, and what with Kaydara providing its OpenReality SDK for
the Mac, we just might be seeing some new motion capture devices making
their way into our neck of the computing woods. And, on the software side,
NewTek has announced support for Kaydara's FBX, the file format used natively
a chance to interview Kaydara's FiLMBOX product manager, Sam Nelson, about
these issues and the future of digital media production on the Mac. Here's
what Sam had to say.
FiLMBOX is obviously a well known tool for 3D artists on other platforms.
What made you decide to bring it to Mac OS X, as opposed to a previous
Mac OS or no Mac version at all?
Nelson We chose to develop for Mac OS X because with this
release Apple brings the Macintosh platform to a new level of technical
proficiency. With preemptive multitasking and virtual memory, technologies
that are crucial for the execution of advanced 3D applications, Mac
OS X is the first Mac operating system that meets the technical requirements
of FiLMBOXs real-time architecture.
What have been some of the development challenges on the Mac platform?
Will there be total feature parity between all platforms, and will you
bring all of the FiLMBOX components to the Mac platform? Will you support
the same level of real-time on the Mac as on other platforms?
We encountered minor challenges that are not uncommon to developing
for a new operating system. In the case of FiLMBOX, we had to invest
significant resources in implementing the Mac OS X windowing system.
Additionally, we had to ensure proper support for OpenGL viewing and
audio support. The fact remains that FiLMBOX is, at the core, a C++-based
architecture that provided us with the added flexibility to accomplish
FiLMBOX will be
available on the Mac platform in its entirety with the same full-featured
product offering found on all other platforms. The video integration
functionality that allows users to add a live video source within their
3D environment does require a combined video I/O board. We are optimistic
that this technology will soon be available on the Mac platform.
authoring capability on the Mac is identical to the support offered
all other platforms. We are very excited and pleased with the performance
results that we have witnessed when compared to equivalent system configurations
and graphic card vendors on other platforms.
Where do you envision the need for FiLMBOX on the Mac?
We foresee a need
for FiLMBOX purely and simply because there is a well established and
growing community of 3D artists on the Mac platform that need to generate
an increasing amount of 3D-animated content for multiple purposes and
for different media.
In general, 3D artists
and animators need a cost-effective solution that favors content reuse,
and ensures faster delivery of quality content. FiLMBOXs real-time
and cross-platform architecture provides the Mac user base with an established
hub for acquiring 3D data whether it originates from external devices,
3D applications or content providers.
I know FiLMBOX supports a pretty large number of devices on other platforms.
How well will FiLMBOX for the Mac play with third-party devices, especially
in the motion capture arena?
FiLMBOX Mac OS X
version is developed on the same open-architecture as its Windows and
Unix counterparts, and therefore its ability to interface with peripheral
devices should pose no barriers to hardware vendors who have migrated
or are looking to jump to Mac.
SDK currently provides all the necessary functions to complete implementation
on the Mac platform. We are prepared to work closely with third party
motion-capture hardware companies to provide new and equivalent motion-capture
solutions for the Mac users.
CM How is the 3D content
marketplace changing in terms of how artists work, and how is Kaydara
looking to address the needs of today's content developers (especially
in terms of operating in a networked environment with complex workflows
across multiple platforms)?
The 3D content marketplace has witnessed not only the advent of the
1 GHz processor, but also the wide scale acceptance of 3D accelerated
graphic cards. These new technological advances have also raised the
minimum expectations for the quality of 3D content and the level of
interactivity. Having said that, the ability to author and validate
3D animated content in real-time without the penalties of off-line processing
is crucial to ensuring rapid delivery to market. In a creative process
that requires a lot of trial and error, 3D artists dont have the
luxury to watch status bars as they ponder yet another design iteration.
Moreover, in a attempt
to continuously push the envelop, to emulate the latest creative trend
or to surpass the most recent technological milestone, content developers
are still seeking out the best in all content-creation tools, in some
cases opting for a single feature. The authoring environment for a single
project is often comprised of various tools whether commercial or proprietary
regardless of platform.
towards the evolving needs of the 3D content marketplace is simple in
many ways. For one, we continue to focus on the live and real-time aspects
3D character animation across the different market segments and applications,
namely game development, film/TV, advertising, interactive content,
and Internet industries. Also, we are continuing to provide an integrated
pipeline for the hybrid production environment that is platform independent
and can interface with as many 3D commercial applications as possible.
CM How is
the need for 3D content changing? How prevalent is it now, and what
do you envision for the near future?
The need for 3D content is changing in that there is a greater demand
for rich interactive 3D content on the Web. An increasing number of
game titles are being developed for the booming PC, online and console
games markets. Likewise, 3D special effects and full-featured CG films
are taking a more and more prominent place at the box office.
We envision that
the need for 3D content will continue to grow, as will the expectation
of audiences and consumers with regards to high-quality visual effects.
How do you see 3D developing on the Web?
Kaydara is focused on providing the enabling authoring technology for
the efficient production of 3D content for the Web. While our business
revolves around content creation, not the actual delivery, we are working
closely with a number of streaming 3D vendors to enable FiLMBOX customers
to re-purpose their data for episodic Web content production and Web
performance. We believe that 3D will grow quickly as a pervasive media
for interactive content, and that the Web will be a key medium for this.
OS X version of FiLMBOX is expected to debut very soon, in conjunction
with the release of version 3.0 across all platforms. The first three
products to be released include FiLMBOX animation, FiLMBOX motioncapture
and FiLMBOX online. The
price point for the tiered product offering on Mac ranges from $4,995
for FiLMBOX animation to $29,995 for the complete FiLMBOX online
version. The Mac OS X prices are consistent with all other platforms including
Windows, Irix and Linux.
information on FiLMBOX, visit http://www.kaydara.com.
TO PAGE [ 1, 2,
Dave Nagel is the producer
of Creative Mac and
Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik
Studio Artist, Adobe
Mac and Digital
Media Designer; and executive producer of
Media Net family of publications.
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