Date: Feb. 23, 2006
Subject: Zaxwerks Releases ProAnimator version 4
Zaxwerks Releases ProAnimator version 4, a huge upgrade to this next-generation 3D title and logo animation program.
The ProAnimator 3D title and logo software, winner of the Best Animation Program of 2005 by Videomaker magazine, has just been upgraded to version 4. Containing dozens of improvements and new features the ProAnimator has redefined how fast the production of professional-level 3D graphics can be.
One of the major new features of version 4 is the ability for ProAnimator to work inside of After Effects as a plug-in. This enables the AE animator to get real-time previews of animated 3D objects while still inside After Effects.
"Using the ProAnimator as a plug-in greatly enhances work flow." says Zax Dow, founder and product designer for Zaxwerks. "The plug-in makes it easier to create beautiful multi-layered 3D animation in register with other After Effects elements. Not having to leave After Effects to work on the 3D also gives a huge boost to production speed and flexibility because changes can be made to the 3D elements at any time without having to re-render movie clips and re-import them into the final composite."
ProAnimator has a unique new way of creating animation. Rather than laboriously setting keyframes for every object, ProAnimator uses behavioral animation techniques to animate many objects with a single set of controls. This results in animations of great complexity being very fast and easy to create. Further, it enables multiple versions to be made with a few simple keystrokes. Animations can be saved as templates which can then be applied to any group of letters or logo elements for exceptionally fast graphics production.
The new version of ProAnimator adds animation features such as the ability to do cascading visibility animation and to distribute pages of text or Illustrator logo elements around the surface of a cylinder, making it very easy to do curving logos in the "Universal Pictures" style.
It also adds many new ways to render the final picture giving the artist great flexibility in designing with 3D. These rendering styles include Wireframe Rendering, Hiddenline Rendering, Cartoon Coloring and Absolute Coloring. Additional special effect techniques include a Shadow Catcher material for integrating 3D objects into existing 2D footage and a Matte Material for creating traveling mattes out of 3D objects.
Other new features include:
- Soloing, Ghosting, Visibility and Locking for tracks.
- QuickTime and AVI movies as texture maps and backgrounds.
- Visibility actions for adding cascading visibility to your animation.
- Local and Group Scale controllers.
- Primitive modeling: Spheres, Cones, Cubes, Pyramids, Cylinders, Planes, etc.
- New Path and Pose actions for creating linear or swooping random motion, with tumbling.
- Scene merging.
- Track segment labeling.
- Track duplication.
- Track segment flipping.
- A new file format which saves models as a live, editable objects so they can be reused in other projects and changed at a later date.
For video editors who do not use After Effects, the standalone version of ProAnimator includes all the new features of the plug-in plus the ability to export final movies in QuickTime or AVI formats and even use movie files as texture maps. Background movies are also now supported and the background can be composited with the 3D elements as part of the final rendering process, so complete promos, ID's and titles can be rendered in the standalone ready to drop into the time line of a video editing system.
An extra plug-in, also included in the bundle, enables the artist to import camera and object animation data from a ProAnimator project into an After Effects project. So it doesn't matter if the artist wants the ProAnimator to follow an AE camera move, or if he wants After Effects to follow a ProAnimator camera move. All bases are covered in this tremendous upgrade.
ProAnimator 4 is shipping now. It is available from the Zaxwerks website, from your favorite software reseller, or by calling Zaxwerks directly at 626-309-9102 or 1-800-549-0250. Upgrades are offered for any user of Zaxwerks Invigorator products. The price of ProAnimator is $695, with upgrades starting at $199.
For more information contact Zaxwerks at 626-309-9102 or visit their website at www.zaxwerks.com.
Subject: Zaxwerks releases the Invigorator for After Effects PRO version 4.0
The 3D Invigorator PRO, industry standard, powerhouse plug-in for After Effects has become even more useful to designers and enables mass-production of 3D graphics. The 3D Invigorator for After Effects plug-in has once again proven to be the must-have software of the year. Already known as the industry standard 3D graphics power house, version 4 adds many new capabilities which appeal to the artistic side of graphics design, as well as adding new tools that appeal to the motion graphic artist who must create large numbers of graphics on impossible deadlines.
These new features unlock a whole different way of using 3D as a design tool and will be sure to inspire an evolution in animated motion graphics.
New features of the PRO version include:
3D Text Creation
Rather than starting in Adobe Illustrator, you can now jump into the 3D process with a full-featured text editor and layout window. The 3D text engine can use Post Script Type 1 and True Type fonts resident on your computer system to directly create 3D models using any of the 100 edge bevels included with the program.
Controls exist for character by character control over font, size, leading, scale, kerning, letter spacing, and baseline shift. But the most astounding hallmark to this feature is the ability to change the text at any phase of the production process and retain the color, modeling and animation. This means that the first version of a promo is created, and then 50 other versions can be created by simply changing the text. No other rework needs to be done. The new text will retain the same coloring, text attributes, 3D beveling, texture map placement and even the animation data. This makes for an unbelievably fast production process when many changes or extra versions are needed.
Need a spinning globe? Need a cereal box or a 3D floor? Now one button will get you there. The new primitives engine will create spheres, cubes, planes and cylinders with control over smoothness and size. There is even a control for the shading of the facets so you can create shapes that look like they have been cut from crystal or polished as smooth as a gem.
New Import/Export Format
We have added a new file format for importing and exporting 3D objects... our own! The new Invigorator object format enables you to set up 3D logos, titles and 3D text, color them, apply the materials, maps and object settings, and then save them into files which you can reuse over and over in all your other Invigorator projects. This is a huge time saver for repetitive work.
Invigorator PRO version 4 now supports 3D Motion Blur. It uses the motion blur settings of the AE Comp camera so it matches the look of the AE Advanced 3D renderer.
Tracking AE's 3D Objects
Another great new feature is the ability for Invigorator objects to track, or mimic, what an AE 3D plane is doing. On the surface this feature might not seem that significant, however for the advanced After Effects user this feature opens the doors to incredible new abilities.
By tracking AE's 3D planes an AE user is now able to use the standard 3D manipulation tools within AE to create motion paths and keyframes for the Invigorator's objects. This means that everything you can do to an AE 3D plane can now be done to Invigorator objects. You get visible 3D paths, function curve control, animation assistants and even expression-based control over your 3D animations! And all you have to do to make it work is to pick a simple menu option. Incredible.
Layer Map Animation
There is a new control for texture maps that will let you animate the wrap of a texture as it is applied to an object. This feature is especially useful for reflection maps. Once a 3D title comes to rest the reflections stop moving too. This can make the graphic look "dead" and uninteresting. By animating this new parameter the map will continue to move so the graphics will remain alive and visually appealing.
Version 4 PRO also supports render farming using the After Effects render engine. Now, multiple computers can be used to render your 3D Invigorator animations in record time.
For the visual designer, Version 4 has many new ways to paint the final picture and broaden your options for being visually creative.
Wireframe and Hiddenline Rendering
Wireframe rendering is that "techno-looking" style where 3D objects are rendered only as the lines that define their shape. This is uniquely appealing because objects look more like drawings rather than big clunky 3D objects.
Hiddenline rendering is a special kind of wireframe where you only see the lines that define the visible parts of the objects. In standard wireframe you see all of the lines no matter if they are on the front or the back of the objects. But with hiddenline the back lines are hidden and you only see the lines that best show the front side of the object.
Something very exciting about the way Zaxwerks has implemented line rendering is that our lines respond to lighting! This means that the lines will get brighter or darker depending on the placement and intensity of the lights. This gives shading and increased appeal to the lines rather than having plain solid-colored lines. Another unique ability is that the lines can be texture mapped! This lets you apply any of the standard maps (color, reflections, bump, etc.) to the surface of the lines. Want to make the lines look like brushed metal? Now you can.
Cartoon Color Rendering
This one is really fun. It renders the 3D objects as though they were drawn by a poster artist or an animator painting animation cells. Standard 3D rendering paints the objects in continuous tones creating a photo-real look, but Cartoon Color rendering paints the objects in bands of color . The bands block in the color of the highlights, shadows and base, giving you a big bold look with lots of punch!
Absolute Color Rendering
This kind of rendering is useful when you want a color to be absolutely the same after rendering as it was before. For instance if you are doing a job for a corporate client who demands that their corporate colors be used and that the colors cannot be affected by the lighting or shadows in the 3D scene. This rendering option is also useful to put colored strokes around objects or to make 3D TV screens where the images in the TVs look as though they are lit from within.
Best of all, these new material styles can be mixed and matched within the same 3D scene. For instance you can have a wireframe sphere, casting wireframe shadows, revolving around a cartoon logo with a shadow catcher floor making the 3D scene merge into your 2D background footage! Wow!
There are also two other material styles which are useful when compositing the 3D imagery with other video or background footage.
Matte Color Rendering
This is a special material option that makes a 3D object act like a mask. When an object with this material is visible it creates a traveling matte. (Prints black in the alpha channel.) This is used to block out objects that you don't want to appear in the final rendering. It is also useful for creating transition effects out of 3D objects.
For instance, start with a 3D star. Color the star gold. Then apply the Matte Color material to the back face of the star. Now create an animation where the star flies to the center of the screen, flips over and then flies straight at the camera. When the star flips over it reveals the back side that has been given the Matte Color material. This will create a "hole" in the 3D image which will reveal a background layer behind the 3D layer. As the star flies toward the camera the hole gets bigger and bigger revealing more and more of the background image. Once the star has covered the camera the transition is complete.
Shadow Catcher Rendering
You are going to love this one! This enables the shadows from your 3D objects to fall onto the objects in a piece of background video. The way you do this is to build 3D objects that mimic the shape of the objects in the background footage then give those objects the Shadow Catcher material.
For instance say you have a video of some books piled up on a table, and you want to animate a title that flies in and lands on the table next to the books. To make it look more realistic you want the shadow of the title to fall onto the books and the table top. Normally this is an impossible problem. The shadow will have to bend to take into account the height of the books and how they are positioned on the table, but the 3D Invigorator PRO makes it possible.
To make this work all you have to do is to use the new primitives modeler to create several boxes that will act as place holders. Adjust the boxes to match the size of the books and the table top, and then position them in register with the background image of the real books and table. The last step is to give these placeholder objects the Shadow Catcher material. Now when you render the animation, the shadows from the title will fall onto the placeholder objects which will "catch" their shadows. The place holders themselves won't be seen. Only the shadows that fall onto them will be seen. When composited with the background video, the shadows of the 3D objects will look as though they are falling onto the table and books in the video, merging the two images into one very realistic image!
The new features of version 4 support the Invigorator philosophy where exceptional power is combined with exceptional speed and ease of use. All of the new material styles are one-click easy. Switching from wireframe to cartoon to photo-realistic is nothing more than a single click.
The 3D Invigorator for After Effects PRO version 4 retails at $399 U.S. Upgrades from previous PRO versions are only $99. Upgrades from Classic are $199.
Date: December 12th, 2003
Subject: Zaxwerks releases high performance 3D tool for video editors.
Zaxwerks, creators of the award-winning plug-in 3D Invigorator, has today released a standalone software product called the Invigorator ProAnimator. This product enables video editors to easily create 3D title and logo animations of outstanding beauty and quality.
Traditionally adding high quality 3D animation to a video project has been a time consuming and expensive process. Further it has required a specialized set of skills to use the complex 3D animation products currently available. ProAnimator is a must-have application that breaks new ground by giving video editors a way to easily create stylish 3D animations in the editing suite, with familiar looking tools and methods.
Time. Money. Quality. Pick three.
The Invigorator ProAnimator is a complete rethink of the way animations are created. Other animation products force the artist to think like a technician, focusing on the small particulars in the process of building a completed work. This can be very frustrating for non-experts who often like to rapidly experiment with dozens of different ideas.
Zaxwerks enables that experimentation with its new "Object Flow" technology. This enables the user to act like a Director rather than a Technician - looking at the big picture rather than having to toil through the details. The result is that complex and beautiful animations can be created very quickly. ProAnimator uses Zaxwerks' world-class rendering engine, which is used every day to create on-air graphics for Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, Disney, MTV and dozens of others.
"Forget everything you've ever heard about 3D animation," says Zax Dow, President of Zaxwerks. "It's no longer slow. It's no longer difficult. It's now available to the everyday user in a form that is as close to a one-button solution as you are ever going to get."
The Invigorator fits beautifully within the post-production environment and enables facilities who ordinarily couldn't offer 3D animation, the ability to deliver high quality, cost effective 3D from each of their editing bays.
The work flow of the ProAnimator resembles video editing more than it does traditional 3D animating. Animation clips are spliced, arranged, and trimmed to create a story. As you progress through the edit, clips can be added, deleted, rearranged, lengthened, shortened and duplicated. During this process the 3D objects are automatically adjusted to handle the changes. The user never touches a keyframe. This keeps the user focused on the art direction without having to worry about the technical details.
Key Highlights of the ProAnimator include:
- World's best 3D title and logo modeler.
- Highly efficient work flow. Real time feedback.
- Easy Mode for quick starts. Advanced Mode for adding details.
- Create an entire animation with one click. Dozens of presets supplied with the program.
- The ability to save any Pose, Transition or the entire Animation Event Chain as a custom Preset. Presets can be applied to other sets of 3D models with a single click making alternate versions one-click easy.
- Existing 3D objects can be imported from Maya, 3D Studio, Lightwave, SoftImage and many other programs.
- Movies are rendered with alpha channels in QuickTime format, and can be used in applications such as Avid's Xpress DV, Apple's Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier, Adobe After Effects, and nearly every other video editing or compositing program that imports QuickTime movies.
Reactions from users have included the following:
"I've never seen anything like this. The tedium is gone. You can try out idea after idea without worrying about the time. I feel guilty making animations this way."
"Creating animation has always been frustrating for me. Not only is the frustration gone but it's actually fun. I guess I was just using the wrong program. These people get it."
"It feels like the Jetson's just visited my computer."
"The most fun I've had with a computer program in years."
The Macintosh version of 3D Invigorator ProAnimator will begin shipping in Q2 of 2003, followed by the Windows version in Q3 of 2003.
$895 per seat. Site licenses available
About Zaxwerks Inc.
As the world's leading innovator of 3D title and logo technology, Zaxwerks develops software for the digital video, broadcast, film and web markets. Our customers include ABC, Firestone, Dallas Cowboys Football, TBS SuperStation, Fox Sports, Tech TV, Pixar, Bank of America, Playboy channel and many other post production facilities and TV stations around the world.
Zaxwerks is a privately held software company with headquarters in Temple City, California. Please visit the Zaxwerks website at http://www.zaxwerks.com or call 1-800-549-0250 in the United States or 626-309-9102 internationally.