Cheetah 3D

Cheetah 3D

In Cheetah 3D, the colored areas of the neck, chest and arms show the parts of the body that will react when the shoulders are moved.


Artists know that 3D apps can do serious damage to the brain and the wallet. Cheetah3D is a unique alternative, providing a fairly comprehensive set of 3D modeling, animation, and rendering tools with a highly intuitive interface at a bargain price. This version adds an array of character-animation tools that let you easily create your own digital citizens.


Cheetah3D tackles the primary problem of most 3D software: the interface, done here as a straightforward single window. It’s easy to get into Cheetah 3D - something other 3D apps can’t claim. The main tools are arranged along the top of the window as a series of iconic menus, with logical groupings of related toolsets. The online help system is serviceable, but we’d really like to see the documentation beefed up with more examples of how to use some of the advanced features.


The bottom line for any 3D app is the rendering quality, and Cheetah 3D’s High Dynamic Range image-rendering ability produces amazingly smooth, realistic creations. Bridging the gap between the look of computer graphics and reality, the stunning results look absolutely professional. The new Caustics tag re-creates the interactions of real light with refractive and reflective materials (think of the reflections of sunlight along the bottom of a swimming pool). The app has full support for as many processors as your Mac has. It lacks network rendering, but given the low price, we weren’t expecting it.


Also new are skeletons and inverse kinematics. You can quickly create a set of bones that are attached to a 3D mesh object, and distort the mesh in a highly controlled fashion. The new Morphing tag enables interpolated animations of multiple static poses of a character, as well as morphing between different states of a mesh (critical for facial animation), with decent results that might require minor tweaking. While Maya is more comprehensive in its morphing capabilities, Cheetah3D’s implementation is workable. The app uses an intuitive color-coding method to display the areas of influence of the bone structures, letting you “paint” influence regions in order to determine how the mesh will respond to the bones’ movement. We found the approach to be relatively easy and manageable compared to the complexity of similar tools we’ve seen in higher-end apps.


The bottom line. Cheetah3D is a perfect choice for 3D novices, students, and anyone else looking to expand their dimensions. With its clean interface, tool selection, and performance, it’s worth every penny.


COMPANY: Martin Wengenmayer

PRICE: $129, $59 upgrade

REQUIREMENTS: G3 or later or Intel processor, Mac OS 10.4 or later, 512MB RAM, 16MB VRAM
Intuitive interface. Outstanding render quality. Easy character animation. Bargain price.
Needs better documentation.





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Also this is the same Baxter corp that was a U.S. based pharmaceutical company that just weeks ago was involved in a scandal involving vaccines tainted with deadly avian flu virus has been chosen to head up efforts to produce a vaccine for the Mexican swine flu that has seemingly migrated into the U.S. and Europe.
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