Apple today announced the immediate worldwide availability of Shake 3, the next version of its compositing and video effects software.

Shake has been used in the production of over a hundred movies, including The Matrix Reloaded, X-Men 2 and Finding Nemo.

The product offers new Mac OS X only features such as Shake Qmaster network render management software that lets effects artists distribute rendering tasks across a cluster of Xserves or desktop Power Macs. OS X users also get unlimited render licenses for the application.

Other features in Shake 3 - which is available for OS X, Linux and Irix customers, though the Windows flavour of the product has been discontinued - include film grain simulation and tracking on paint strokes.

Apple 's senior vice president of Applications Sina Tamaddon said: "With Shake 3, we're adding more features professional artists need to create Oscar-winning visual effects and introducing new features that make Shake more accessible to a broader audience. OS X customers are going to love the new Shake Qmaster render management software that turns every available Mac or Xserve in a production house into a virtual rendering machine."

Shake Qmaster network render management software for OS X uses Apple 's Rendezvous networking technology to automatically identify available render nodes and clusters on a network while load-balancing optimizes usage across each machine.

Shake 3 also now includes better audio capabilities so artists can synchronize visual effects with audio, with a feature that automatically animates visual effects based on sound and view, slip or slide audio waveforms against animation curves.

The product includes broadcast monitor support for previewing composites on a standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD) video monitor.

Shake 3 is available for OS X with unlimited render licenses for $4,950, and for Linux and Irix for $9,900 (with annual maintenance of $1,485). Existing Shake for Linux, Irix and Windows customers can double their existing Shake licenses at no charge by migrating to Shake on OS X.

UK Mac pricing is £3,799 including VAT.