Focus On: Siggraph 99

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Mac users will have a chance to see the future of computer graphics as Siggraph 99, the 26th International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, comes to the Los Angeles Convention Center Aug. 8-13.

Siggraph, sponsored by the computer graphics special-interest group of the Association of Computing Machinery, is the leading trade show for high-end computer graphics applications, including 3D animation, digital special effects, virtual reality, interactive multimedia, and scientific visualization. More than 50,000 attendees and 325 exhibitors are expected.

Although the show is heavy on Windows NT and Unix applications, plenty of Mac products will also be on display. Among them:

MetaCreations will show the latest versions of Bryce, Canoma, and Poser, as well as an automated lip-synching plug-in that works with Poser. The company has also been working on a software patch that will let you use animated Poser figures within Bryce scenes. Siggraph is traditionally a busy show for the 3D software developer, so don't be surprised if MetaCreations has a surprise product announcement or two.

Linker Systems has scheduled an Aug. 11 news conference with Apple Computer to announce what it describes as "an exciting new 2D animation product." Linker will also show Version 4.1 of Animation Stand, its high-end animation program for the Mac.

Hash will show the latest version of Animation Master, a 3D animation program for professionals.

Auto-de-sys will show Form-Z 3.1, a free bug-fix update to its professional modeling software for the Mac.

One big theme at the show will be 3D graphics technologies for the Web. A 90-minute Web3D Roundup will feature presentations from more than 30 developers of 3D Web applications. In addition, MetaCreations will demonstrate its MetaStream 3D streaming technology. Attendees will also have a chance to see the latest technologies for creating special effects in TV and film.

Various technologies for capturing live 3D data will also be on display. These include 3D scanners and digitizers, as well as motion-capture devices that allow performers to control animated 3D characters in real time. One question for Mac users: Will we finally see a 3D scanner that works with the Mac?

Along with showcasing cutting-edge graphics applications, Siggraph traditionally serves as a crystal ball for future product developments. Some popular graphics packages, including MetaCreations' Bryce, were inspired by papers originally delivered at Siggraph conferences.

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