An anonymous reader writes "Autodesk has announced that after the 2015 version of Softimage, which is scheduled for release next April, it will no longer provide software support. The publisher has confirmed the rumors last month, according to which Autodesk intends to terminate its software for 3D modeling and animation. 'We regret to inform you that the next version of Softimage 2015 will be the last,' can be read on the Autodesk website. 'This latest version will be released around April 14, 2014. Autodesk will continue to provide support for up to 30 April 2016. '"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
It's not just graphics app Krita: user KDE Community writes "The Calligra team is proud and pleased to announce the release of version 2.8 of the Calligra Suite, Calligra Active and the Calligra Office Engine. Major new features in this release are comments support in Author and Words, improved Pivot tables in Sheets, improved stability and the ability to open hyperlinks in Kexi. Flow introduces SVG based stencils and as usual there are many new features in Krita including touch screens support and a wraparound painting mode for the creation of textures and tiles." KDE has also just announced the first beta of its Applications and Platform 4.13.
MojoKid writes "Buzz has been building for the last week that Microsoft would soon unveil the next version of DirectX at the upcoming Games Developer Conference (GDC). Microsoft has now confirmed that its discussion forums at the show won't just be to discuss updates to DX11, but that the company is putting a full court press behind DirectX 12. The company responded sharply over a year ago, when an AMD executive claimed that future versions of the API were essentially dead, but it has been over four years since DX11 debuted. To date, Microsoft has only revealed a few details of the next-generation API. Like AMD's Mantle, it will focus on giving developers "close-to-metal" GPU resource access and reducing CPU overhead. Like Mantle, the goal of DirectX 12 is to give programmers more control over performance tuning, with an eye towards better multi-threading and multi-GPU scaling. Unlike Mantle, DirectX 12 will undoubtedly support a full range of GPUs from AMD, Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm. Qualcomm's presence is interesting. With Windows RT all but moribund, Qualcomm's interest in that market may have seemed incidental. However, the fact that the company is involved with the DX12 standard could mean that the handset and tablet developer is serious about the Windows market in the long term."
jlp2097 writes "As reported by Heise, Mozilla has introduced a new JPEG encoder (German [Google-translated to English]) called mozjpeg. Mozjpeg promises to be a 'production-quality JPEG encoder that improves compression while maintaining compatibility with the vast majority of deployed decoders.' The Mozilla Research blog states that Mozjpeg is based on libjpeg-turbo with functionality added from jpgcrush. They claim an average of 2-6% of additional compression for files encoded with libjpeg and 10% additional compression for a sample of 1500 jpegs from Wikipedia — while maintaining the same image quality."
JDG1980 writes "Krita, an open-source graphics editor, has been around since 2005, but no stable version existed for Windows users — until today. With the release of Krita 2.8, full and stable support for Windows users is finally a reality, thanks to input from KO GmbH and Intel. Krita brings some things to the table that GIMP does not: 16 bit per channel color support, adjustment layers, and a name that won't set off red flags at HR, just to list a few. You can download the Windows version here. Might be worth looking into, if you're tired of the lack of progress on GIMP and don't want to pay monthly "cloud" fees to Adobe."
An anonymous reader writes "In a Q&A session on Reddit last night with Valve's Gabe Newell, the founder confirmed that the company is in the process of getting the highly anticipated Source 2 game engine 'working well with VR.' Valve's Alex Vlachos, Senior Graphics Programmer, is apparently leading the charge. Still no word on when the engine may ship. Valve, who is openly collaborating with Oculus VR, demonstrated a VR headset prototype in January at Steam Dev Days. The company also launched a beta version of SteamVR which offers Steam's 'Big Picture' mode in a format compatible with the Oculus Rift VR headset. A developer who got to experiment with Valve's VR prototype says it's very impressive, even more so than the original Oculus VR dev kit."
cyclomedia writes "The Decibel Kid — the "AudioVisual Artist" responsible for last summer's Ipswich Zelda Map — has unveiled his new website. Modeled on Amiga OS it supports changing the wallpaper, window dragging, resizing, minimizing, and that z-index shuffle button. The mobile site is a completely different beast, modeling itself as a low-res LCD." There's even a drum machine. If you're pining for the "real" thing, there's always UAE (if you can find a ROM). Update: 03/05 15:45 GMT by U L : polyp2000 pointed out a better simulation, and a simulation of Workbench 1.5.
An anonymous reader writes "Months after Intel ported the Chromium open-source web browser to Wayland, Chromium is now running on Ubuntu's Mir. The Mir display server port ended up being based on Wayland's Chromium code for interfacing with Google's Ozone abstraction framework. The Ubuntu developer responsible for this work makes claims that they will be trying to better collaborate with Wayland developers over this code." Grab the code hot off the press.
An anonymous reader writes "The Principal Graphics Programmer for BioShock Infinite has put up a post about how the game's lighting was developed. We don't usually get this kind of look into the creation of AAA game releases, but the studio shut down recently, so ex-employees are more willing to explain. The game uses a hybrid lighting system: direct lighting is dynamic, indirect uses lightmaps, shadows are a mix. 'Dynamic lighting was handled primarily with a deferred lighting/light-pre pass renderer. This met our goals of high contrast/high saturation — direct lighting baked into lightmaps tends to be flat, mostly because the specular approximations available were fairly limited.' It's interesting how much detail goes into something you don't really think about when you're playing through the game. 'We came up with a system that supported baked shadows but put a fixed upper bound on the storage required for baked shadows. The key observation was that if two lights do not overlap in 3D space, they will never overlap in texture space. We made a graph of lights and their overlaps. Lights were the vertices in the graph and the edges were present if two lights' falloff shapes overlapped in 3D space. We could then use this graph to do a vertex coloring to assign one of four shadow channels (R,G,B,A) to each light. Overlapping lights would be placed in different channels, but lights which did not overlap could reuse the same channel. This allowed us to pack a theoretically infinite number of lights in a single baked shadow texture as long as the graph was 4-colorable.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Citing 'code we consider to be permanently "experimental" or "beta,"' Google Chrome engineers have no plans on enabling video acceleration in the Chrome/Chromium web browser. Code has been written but is permanently disabled by default because 'supporting GPU features on Linux is a nightmare' due to the reported sub-par quality of Linux GPU drivers and many different Linux distributions. Even coming up with a Linux GPU video acceleration white-list has been shot down over fear of the Linux video acceleration code causing stability issues and problems for Chrome developers. What have been your recent experiences with Linux GPU drivers?"
One of the few but lingering complaints about the Raspberry Pi is that it relies on a proprietary GPU blob for communication between the graphics drivers and the hardware. Today, Broadcom released the full source for the OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 driver stack for the Broadcom VideoCore IV 3D graphics subsystem running on one of its popular cellphone systems-on-a-chip. It's available under a BSD license, and Broadcom provided documentation for the graphics core as well. The SoC in question is similar to the one used on the Raspberry Pi, and Eben Upton says making a port should be 'relatively straightforward.' The Raspberry Pi Foundation has offered a $10,000 bounty for the first person who can demonstrate a functional port. (The test for functionality is, of course, being able to run Quake III Arena.) Upton says, 'This isn't the end of the road for us: there are still significant parts of the multimedia hardware on BCM2835 which are only accessible via the blob. But we're incredibly proud that VideoCore IV is the first publicly documented mobile graphics core, and hope this is the first step towards a blob-free future for Raspberry Pi.' Side note: the RPi is now two years old, and has sold 2.5 million units.
An anonymous reader writes "GNOME 3.12 was going to have official Wayland support as one of its main features for the upcoming desktop release. The developers have now decided to delay the official Wayland support until at least GNOME 3.14 while the support found there will be shipped as a preview. Missing features like drag 'n' drop and clipboard support are still missing from GNOME's Wayland code, which made them decide another six months of development work is needed. Other GNOME 3.12 features are mentioned on the GNOME Wiki."
jones_supa writes "Yesterday Portal 2, a Source-based game that has been missing a Linux version, got a public beta release. The Steam game product page doesn't yet say the game supports Linux. To access the beta for Linux, right-click the game in Steam, select Properties and go to the Betas tab. Valve hasn't published the Linux system requirements for Portal 2 yet, but WebUpd8 tested it using Intel HD 3000 graphics under Ubuntu and it worked pretty well."
An anonymous reader writes "A VP9 video decoder written for FFmpeg, FFvp9, now holds the title of being the world's fastest VP9 video decoder. FFvp9 is faster than Google's de facto VP9 decoder found in libvpx, but this doesn't come as too much of a surprise given that FFmpeg also produced a faster VP8 video decoder than Google a few years back with both single and multi-threaded performance."
Zothecula writes "Three years ago, we heard about a prototype shoe that could be used to guide the wearer via haptic feedback. Designed by Anirudh Sharma, who was then a researcher at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Bangalore, India, the Lechal shoe was intended for use mainly by the blind. This week, however, Sharma and business partner Krispian Lawrence announced that the production version of the Lechal will soon be available for preorder, and it's aimed at helping all people navigate the city streets." Sensor-laden shoe computers aren't a new idea; in the past, they've just been put to different purposes (PDF).
Vigile writes "NVIDIA is launching the GeForce GTX 750 Ti today, which would normally just be a passing mention for a new $150 mainstream graphics card. But company is using this as the starting point for its Maxwell architecture, which is actually pretty interesting. With a new GPU design that reorganizes the compute structure into smaller blocks, Maxwell is able to provide 66% more CUDA cores with a die size that is just 25% bigger than the previous generation all while continuing to use the same 28nm process technology we have today. Power and area efficiency were the target design points for Maxwell as it will eventually be integrated into NVIDIA's Tegra line, too. As a result the GeForce GTX 750 Ti is able to outperform AMD's Radeon R7 260X by 5-10% while using 35 watts less power at the same time."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Nearly 30 years after Super Mario Bros., video game graphics have advanced to heights that once seemed impossible. Modern sports games are fueled by motion capture of actual athletes, and narrative-driven adventures can seem more like interactive movies than games. But gaming's increasing realism brings a side effect — a game can now fall into the 'uncanny valley,' a term coined by robotics professor Masahiro Mori of the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1970. Jon Brodkin talked to game developers, engineers, motion scientists and a variety of other folks about the 'uncanny valley problem,' in which (some) people feel revolted when confronted by a robot or digital character that doesn't quite look real. In games where human-like characters are necessary, the uncanny valley can be an even bigger problem than in animated movies; gamers control characters rather than just watching them, creating more opportunities for the illusion of realism to falter. New and better tools can help developers and animators deal with some of these issues, but crossing the 'valley' successfully still remains a challenge. Or is crossing it even possible at all?"
jones_supa writes "At FOSDEM 2014 some recent developments of GNU Hurd were discussed (PDF slides). In the name of freedom, GNU Hurd has now the ability to run device drivers from user-space via the project's DDE layer. Among the mentioned use-cases for the GNU Hurd DDE are allowing VPN traffic to just one application, mounting one's own files, redirecting a user's audio, and more flexible hardware support. You can also run Linux kernel drivers in Hurd's user-space. Hurd developers also have working IDE support, X.Org / graphics support, an AHCI driver for Serial ATA, and a Xen PV DomU. Besides the 64-bit support not being in a usable state, USB and sound support is still missing. As some other good news for GNU Hurd, around 79% of the Debian archive is now building for GNU Hurd, including the Xfce desktop (GNOME and KDE soon) and Firefox web browser."
Nerval's Lobster writes "As Web applications grow in number and capability, storing large amounts of images can quickly become a problem. If you're a Web developer and need to store your client images, do you just keep them on the same server hosting your Website? What if you have several gigabytes worth of images that need to be processed in some way? Today, many developers are looking for an easy but cost-effective solution whereby images can be stored in the cloud and even processed automatically, thus taking a huge load off one's own servers, freeing up resources to focus on building applications. With that in mind, developer and editor Jeff Cogswell looks at a couple different cloud-based services for image storage and processing. At first glance, these services seem similar—but they're actually very different. He examines Cloudinary and Blitline, and encourages developers to take a look at ImageResizer, an open-source package that does a lot of what proprietary services do (you just need to install the software on your own servers). 'If you're not a programmer but a web designer or blogger, Blitline won't be of much use for you,' he writes. 'If you are a developer, both Cloudinary and Blitline work well.' What do you think?"
An anonymous reader writes "AMD's latest feature added to their open-source Radeon DRM graphics driver is VCE video encoding via a large code drop that happened this morning. A patched kernel and Mesa will now allow the Radeon driver with their latest-generation hardware to provide low-latency H.264 video encoding on the GPU rather than CPU. The support is still being tuned and it only supports the VCE2 engine but the patches can be found on the mailing list until they land in the trunk in the coming months."