June 23
Form•Z To Get Enhanced QuickTime VR Export, Direct Lightwave [6] Import
Version 3.6 to launch at Siggraph with improved rendering

by David Nagel
Executive Producer

Auto•des•sys says it will launch version 3.6 of form•Z at Siggraph 2000 in New Orleans (July 23 through July 28). According to the company, the new version of form•Z, a 3D modeling and animation package, will sport a significant number of enhancements over previous versions, "the culmination of the v. 3.0 series of releases." These include a QuickTime VR export function and better rendering. Auto•des•sys is also working with NewTek to provide for direct importing of files from and to either application. The company says that, if the Lightwave [6] functionality is not available at the time of the form•Z 3.6 release, it will be made available to the public later. Improvements coming to 3.6 include:

  • Illustrator types of splines will get more "Illustrator-like" in both the way they are imported and exported and in the way they are edited in form•Z.
  • Updated support of SAT/ACIS import/export to version 6, which has also improved its handling in IGES imports.
  • It adds to OpenGL and QuickDraw 3D the ability to display open lines and to work with the extended cursor, axis marks, snap highlights, and cross marks.
  • It includes a number of improvements to the Imager, ranging from general interface refinements to the ability to generate QuickTime VR files, to directly access drafting options, such as for the removal of duplicate lines, and to autosave images for Surface Render, Hidden Line, Shaded Render and RenderZone.
  • A significant rendering upgrade, much of which derives from the newly incorporated LightWorks version 5.5.
  • Multiprocessor support for forthcoming multiprocessing G4s. (It also provides support for multiprocessing Windows PCs.)
  • Shader improvements like optional Summation Table Sampling that applies to all the image based shaders and Analytic Area Sampling for most surface (wrapped) shaders.
  • A new type of light, the Line light, has been introduced. Additional overall improvements to the lights support the ability to set transparent shadows and intensity separately, per individual light, and improved control of the Accurate Glow parameter for all light types.
  • Rendering effects, such as Exposure Correction, Depth Blur and Background, have been enhanced. Their interface has been restructured. And they are now applied through postprocessing, which allows them to be computed independently from the main rendering of an image. A new postprocessed effect, Lens Flares, has also been introduced.
  • A variety of previously existing shaders have been improved, and new ones have been introduced. These include Textured Brick, Wood Boards and Solid Wood for all types of shaders; 2D/3D Cells for Bump shaders; and Woven and Multilayer Paint for Reflection shaders.

According to auto•des•sys, the version 3.6 release marks the end of the way form•Z is currently marketed. "After this release form•Z will move into the future with a modular structure, maintaining an open architecture for plugins. This will lead to specific field-oriented versions of the software," said Chris Yessios, president of auto•des•sys, in a prepared statement.

Demos of version 3.6 will be available at the Siggraph show, though the full release may not be available then. Pricing information on the new version was not available. The current version costs about $1,300 ($1,700 with RenderZone and $2,000 with RenderZone and RadioZity). For more information, visit http://www.autodessys.com.

Form•Z 3.6 will support QuickTime VR export and Lightwave import.














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