Kaydara has announced MotionBuilder 4.0, the next version of its 3D character-animation solution, (previously called FilmBox).

Kaydara claims its solution to be “substantially faster and easier to use than any other 3D character-animation product on the market.” It ships in August 2002, and costs $3,495.

MotionBuilder 4.0 is a real-time 3D animation solution that integrates with major 3D packages, such as Alias|Wavefront Maya or NewTek LightWave. This version also works on Mac OS X.

Freedom of speech New features include: Automatic Character Rigging; Lip-Sync; Real-time display; and a drag-&-drop contextual interface.

Automatic Character Rigging is a timesaving feature for animators – it lets them use diverse motion data in a single animation-environment.

The Lip-sync feature uses Kaydara’s Voice Reality phoneme-extraction technology to build lip-syncs in real-time. It offers the most comprehensive phoneme coverage of any tool on the market, and is as easy to use as loading an audio file, the company claims. A phoneme is any of the abstract units of the phonetic system of a language that correspond to a set of similar speech sounds.

The real-time display feature means that animators can check their animations on-the-fly, without waiting for the rendering process to complete.

Finally, the drag-&-drop contextual interface simplifies the process. When objects or elements are selected, the tools and properties for that object or element become instantly available in the interface. The tools an animator needs to modify elements are displayed automatically for easy access.

File exchange MotionBuilder 4.0 also supports Kaydara’s FBX file interchange format – custom-built to help animators acquire and exchange assets and media from a variety of sources and applications. The format is supported by Alias|Wavefront, Autodesk/Discreet, DI-O-Matic, 2D3, Digimask, Expression Tools, InSpeck, Motek, NewTek, QEDsoft, Reflex3D, Softimage, Turbosquid, Vicon, Viewpoint, and Zygote.

Michael Besner, president of Kaydara, said: “There is no easier or faster way to animate 3D characters than with MotionBuilder 4.0. Animators can transcend the tools and focus on what’s really important – creating the best quality content possible on-time, and on a budget.”