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Latest version of competent 3D-modeling software

3D modeling is a complex and often very expensive arena to pursue and can seem impenetrable to anyone who’s on the outside looking in. This is where Eovia comes to the rescue with Carrara 4 Pro, offering an affordable alternative for those starting out in 3D design as well as providing a cost-effective alternative for more advanced users in the animation field.

You may recall that back in 2000, the newly founded Eovia acquired Carrara from MetaCreations Corporation after MetaCreations announced plans to restructure its business and focus solely on e-commerce visualization solutions for the Web. In fact, Eovia’s founders were the product management team at MetaCreations. Carrara incorporated the best features from MetaCreations’ popular InfiniD and RayDream 3D products. In early 2001, Eovia merged with TGS, makers of the Amapi 3D modeling tool, and a few months later, TGS acquired Eovia, with Eovia continuing to operate independently as a subsidiary. Carrara has since received numerous awards, and Eovia began shipping new pro and standard versions late last year.

What previous versions lacked Carrara 4 Pro makes up for. Eovia introduces professional-level animation tools that will cause a little rumble among the big names in animation. The new, improved package features morph targets for facial animation, enhanced motion paths, and revamped inverse kinematics (IK), complete with a Create IK Chain tool for quickly building IK relationships. The timeline has also been improved with a cleaner layout that’s easier to use.

The most improved feature has to be the animation toolset. With full support for BVH and FBX files, you can now create complex character animation. Not enough? Check this out: Carrara 4 Pro introduces the Eovia Chain Network Rendering feature, which greatly reduces rendering time by allowing network rendering (up to five computers). To heighten realism, Carrara also features blurry reflections, 3D motion blur, and the less realistic (but faster rendering) vector motion blur. Modeling has never been one of Carrara’s strong points, but version 4 sees some improvements.

Version 4 provides a much improved Terrain Editor, with a more intuitive interface and real-time feedback. The results are impressive and are on the verge of matching the photorealistic scenes produced by dedicated natural modelers such as Vue and Bryce. Terrains are handled as special objects based on an underlying bitmap, which can now be up to 8,192×8,192 pixels in size. These can be imported, based on presets, created with generators and filters, or, most powerfully of all, painted with new real-time 3D feedback. What really makes the difference though is the new multilayer terrain shader that allows you to control advanced texturing, such as the distribution of snow, based on factors such as altitude and slope. You can also create more realistic skies in which to set your landscapes, thanks to greatly improved physical simulations of clouds, haze, fog, and the sky itself—which is more accurately colored according to the position of the sun (a setting which can now be based on time and position).

Other enhancements include Maya-like scene manipulators; support for LWO and COB files; and a soundtrack in the timeline that allows you to add sounds to an animated scene and output to movie formats such as QuickTime and AVI. Welcome improvements to the Shader Tree Editor include the new terrain channel, for easy texturing of terrain meshes, and the long-awaited alpha channel for realistic masks and fades.

Carrara’s low price and learning curve make it the perfect solution for students or amateur designers, while its intuitive modeling and texturing tools, along with improved animation and pro-level rendering, make it ideal for animators, architects, and full-time illustrators.

PRICE: $579 (upgrade $189)
FOR: X
FROM: Eovia Corporation
PHONE: 650-938-0515
WEB: www.eovia.com
RATING: 4.0

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