Apple adds Shake 4

Apple on Sunday announced Shake 4, a new version of its compositing software for film and television visual effects. The software now features 3D multi-plane compositing capabilities, optical flow image processing and better integration with Apple's Final Cut Pro 5 software. Shake 4 is coming to Mac OS X in June for US$2,999. A cross platform version will be available for $4,999. Upgrades will cost $999.

New to Shake 4 is 3D multi-plane compositing that lets users leverage the capabilities of their Mac's graphics system -- it uses graphics hardware to let you composite layers in 3D space through OpenGL. you can import Maya-compatible camera data and add camera animation in Shake, viewing top, side, front and camera angles simultaneously to make it easier to position layers.

Extremely slow motion effects are now supported in Shake 4 using a new optical flow technology that creates in-between frames for smooth animation. And if you need to remove camera jitter from static points or correct bumpy pans across a scene, Shake 4 now has Smoothcam, which analyzes and stabilizes images. Shake has been designed to integrate with Final Cut Studio's newly updated Final Cut Pro 5 software, as well -- Shake can be used to stabilize, resize and retime FCP clips and composite shots; you can also generate a Shake node view from cuts and layers in the Timeline in FCP.

It's easier to make masks or moving mattes in Shake 4 thanks to tracking on rotoshape points. And Shake 4 now supports Open EXR, the 16-bit floating point image format that offers higher dynamic range and better quality than 8 or 10-bit formats. And Keying quality has been improved in Shake 4 with 32-bit floating point precision support.

Truelight monitor calibration lets Shake 4 users set up film profiles or save custom lookup tables, and the node information can be placed in the composite or as a viewer script.

Mac OS X system requirements for Shake 4 call for a G4/1GHz or faster, Mac OS X v10.3.9 or v10.4, QuickTime 7.0 or later, 512MB RAM, 1GB available disk space, 32MB VRAM-equipped OpenGL graphics via AGP, 1280 x 1024 resolution, 24-bit color, three-button mouse, and optional AJA Kona or Blackmagic DeckLink card for composite previewing on a broadcast monitor.

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