Macromedia has announced Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio.

The Web-site development and authoring application now integrates 'Tron', a powerful 3D Shockwave engine developed between Macromedia and Intel. Tron brings full-motion, scalable, cross-platform 3D animation to the Web.

Tron was previewed at Macworld Expo, New York in July 2000. Macromedia showed journalists the power of this 3D engine. It has been constructed to offer cutting-edge 3D over limited bandwidths. It does this by using reference models and wire-mesh movement models, seizing the spare processor power of the downloading Mac to deliver fast, accurate 3D animations – without using dial-up time and bandwidth. It promises a new generation of 3D content online.

Add-ons bonanza Around 40 companies are expected to release add-ons for Director 8.5. These will include 3D modelling, texturing, animation, hardware-accelerated video, real-world physics, and facial-animation solutions. Macromedia hopes that its solution – combined with the functionality developed by third parties – will offer the best 3D-authoring environment available.

The interface has seen few changes, but Macromedia has added Flash 5, RealVideo and RealAudio support from within Shockwave content. It has also added a selection of server-level enhancements for online gaming. The authoring environment ships with 300 additional built-in Lingo programming keywords. Lingo is the scripting language used by Director when building Shockwave animations.

Unlike FreeHand 10, this application hasn't yet been Carbonized to run natively in Mac OS X.

Director 8.5 costs £949. Upgrades from version 8.0 cost £149, and from earlier versions, £299. All are available from Computers Unlimited.

For an in-depth report on the features of Director 8.5, please read today's Hot Stuff.