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Electric Image Ships Universe 5

Latest release gets radiosity, new modeling tools By Dave Nagel
Electric Image has started shipping Universe 5, the second major version of the 3D modeling and animation suite released in the last year. According to EI, shipments are going out throughout this week for those who preordered the software. The software is available now for Mac OS 9, Mac OS X and Windows.

Universe 5 adds a number of new features over the previous release. These include:

Material System
  • First Visible Frame option added to all textures
  • Info tab added to display children of Master Materials
  • Material Info window can be resized
  • Subfolders supported in EI Shader folder
  • Subfolders supported in EI Material folder
  • Drag and drop support to copy textures between tabs
  • Drag and drop support to copy shaders between tabs

Shader Variance editor

  • Create saved versions of shader settings
  • Scrollable list of live shaders
  • Merge versions with other users
  • Drag variances directly to Material Info window
  • Editor has multiple display modes

Match Move

  • Pan, tilt, and roll tracking for locked-down cameras
  • Target Editor can track multiple targets
  • Target Editor has controls to deal with targets that leave the camera view.
  • Targets can be displayed in Camera View window
  • Filtering for target tracker
  • Filtering for matching engine
  • Direct match move motion and target import for RealViz.rz3 files
  • Direct match move motion and target import for Boujou.ban files
  • Track single color channel

Time Markers

  • These are quick shortcuts to events in your project.
  • Unlimited markers
  • Shortcuts to jump from marker to marker
  • Marker names pop-up like tool tips
  • Time Marker Editor for managing the markers
  • Can be used to copy keyframes for pose control

View Camera Controls

  • Separate control for Rise/Fall
  • Separate control for Shift left and right
  • Animateable camera view scrolling
  • Single-point perspective rendering
  • Two-point perspective rendering


  • .w3d export
  • Compression controls
  • Ouput object class controls
  • Texture Size controls
  • Name styles options to aid when using Director
  • Log file written as a record of objects and names used

Animator Extras

  • Camera select control no longer hidden in title bar
  • Render directly to six-frame environment map format
  • OpenGL shade texture option for more realistic scene previews
  • Add Effector/Null can now automatically create nulls with the extents of a group
  • Aspect ratio and resolution controls on a per-camera basis. This allows camera maps to have unique aspect ratios
  • Rubberband selection of channels in the F-Curve editor
  • Option to automatically add channels into an F-Curve editor folder
  • Three new view window orientations to enhance strength
  • Stills can be rendered from any orothogal View window for non-perspective rendering
  • View windows can be set to exact screen resolutions
  • Glow layer control moved from Render Info to World Info window to enable animation of glow parameters.
  • Go To Rest Position command added to Character menu. Sets the bones chain controlled by an IK Handle back to its rest posItion.
  • Ten additional color labels added to Project window
  • Time thumb is now left in place when keyframes are dragged
  • Time thumb has contextual menu to control Time Markers
  • Selection Set editor can now be resized
  • Render Control window, Aspect Ratio pull down displays added info
  • Render Control window, resolution pull down displays added info
  • Animated Visibility check box added to Group Info and Light Info windows
  • This allows you to animate object visibility without going deep into Project window channels.
  • Auto Edit Y Z check box added to all Info windows. Locks Y and Z scale to value set in X scale. Convenient way of disabling non-uniform scaling.
  • Display elements control added to each View window. Can now suppress display of elements on an object class basis.
  • Plugins subfolders can be created in EI Sockets folders. Animator will search subfolders when opening projects.
  • Plugin menu displays subfolders as hierarchical menu choices


  • Slaves display the current IP address
  • Port numbers can be set for each slave
  • Multiprocessor slave rendering is supported
  • Multiprocessor batch rendering is supported
  • Subframe distributed rendering added. Large, complex still renderings can be automatically split into sub-frames and submitted as Renderama jobs.
  • Interlaced rendering is now supported
  • Separate stitch command added to allow stitching of partially completed animations


  • Line tool supports dimensional control Start point (x,y,z) Line end method (Start point, end point, direction length)
  • Circle tool supports dimensional control Plane of Creation, center point and radius
  • Rectangle tool supports dimensional control
  • Ellipse tool supports dimensional control
  • New Circle by diameter tool
  • New Ellipse by diameter tool
  • New Circle from three points tool
  • New Circle by tangets tool
  • Font outlines can be directly created in modeler
  • Tool tips can be disabled
  • Select After Creation preference added, which leaves objects selected after they are created.

Radiosity 1.0

  • Separate application, Radiosity, now included with Animator
  • Two solving methods: Hierarchical-quick preview and progressive-high-quality
  • Can chose which objects in the scene are included in solution Material Info window has controls for radiosity emission and reflection
  • Can mix Phong lighting model with radiosity solution
  • Solution is stored in FACT file.
  • Solve once and use solution over and over
  • Solution displayed in all View windows
  • Solution with added Phong lighting displayed in all View windows
  • Groups can be set to be radiosity light emittors
  • All controls are integrated directly into Animator.

The full version of Universe 5 runs $1,295. Upgrades from version 4 cost $349. Upgrades from previous versions cost $499. For more information, visit

Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at

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