Electric Image Enters the Mainstream

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Electric Image (EI; 888/736-3371, http://www.electricimage.com ), best known as a developer of high-end 3-D software for film and TV production, is making a big move for the mass market with a new, $149 modeling and animation program. The company, fresh from its recent merger with Play, has also announced an upgrade of its flagship ElectricImage Animation System (EIAS) that features a new modeler and a $2,295 price tag&#150c;mpared with $7,495 for previous versions.


The $149 modeling program, Amorphium, features an interface reminiscent of such MetaCreations products as Kai's SuperGoo and Bryce 3D. Instead of using wire-frame models, the program presents a lump of virtual clay you can reshape using a variety of tools and filters. A potter's-wheel option lets you use the tools as the model is spinning. Simple paint-on masking tools let you confine modifications to certain parts of the object.

As you mold the model, you can paint directly on its surface or apply textures. You can also use textures to deform the surface. Once you've finished the model, the program lets you create simple QuickTime animations in a Composer window. You can animate an object's movement and shape transformations, but you cannot animate multiple objects in a single movie–though movies can include any number of still 3-D objects. Backgrounds and smoke and fog effects can also be added. The program's speedy rendering engine is based on the one in EIAS.

In addition to creating models within the program, you can also import and export them in DXF or other 3-D formats. However, the program does not support Apple's 3Dmf format.

The New EI

Electric Image has also announced version 2.9 of EIAS, its high-end rendering and animation program. The upgrade is the first to include Electric Image's new modeler; previous versions required artists to use modelers from other companies. EIAS 2.9 also lets you preview texture maps, another much requested feature. But the biggest news about the upgrade may be its price. Previously, Electric Image offered two versions of EIAS, a $2,995 broadcast edition and a $7,495 film version. With EIAS 2.9, the company will offer a single $2,295 package that incorporates both editions plus the modeler. EI also plans to offer a five-pack education bundle for $900.

In April 1998, EI announced its merger with Play, a developer of PC-based 3-D-graphics products. EI, now a division of Play, will use the latter's distribution channels to sell the new software.

February 1999 page: 26

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