Firefox 3.0

Get it now

Update [20 June 2008]:
My initial reaction is positive. I use Safari most of the time, but Firefox has fixed some things that make it work more like Safari on Mac OS (purely cosmetic).

1. When I drag an image from a web page to my disk drive it now drags a translucent version of the image. Version 2.0 just displayed a rectangular outline.
2. When I use the “Zoom” widget it causes the window to maximize. Version 2.0 just resizes the window. I think this should not be called Zoom, because (see 3.)
3. New to version 3.0: Full Zoom. Web pages “scale in the way you’d expect them to, with all the elements of a page’s layout expanding equally…”[source]

One thing they didn’t change: The tab key moves the focus from link to link within a web page. I prefer the tab key to move the focus from text box to text box. There may be a way to change this in the settings, but I haven’t found it. Can you change this setting on the Windows version?

Blender People

Roland Hess Blender People

Roland Hess is an artist, author, coder and Blender enthusiast. He is also the creator of Blender People, a crowd simulation add-on for Blender. It is still under development and requires that you have MySQL installed on your computer. I haven’t attempted to get it working on my machine yet.

Massive: Artificial Intelligence for Animation

A more expensive solution to the crowd simulation problem (and more fully implemented) is Massive [Wikipedia article]. From the Massive website:

Massive is the premier 3D animation system for generating crowd-related visual effects for film and television. Using Massive, an animator or TD designs characters with a set of reactions to what is going on around them.

The reactions of the characters determine what they do and how they do it. Their reactions can even simulate emotive qualities such as bravery, weariness, or joy. The agent reactions can control key-framed or motion captured animation clips called actions.

Characters that perform on their own in this way are referred to as agents. Massive is a system for designing and running such agents. When scaled up into the hundreds – or hundreds of thousands – the interaction within the crowd that emerges from these individuals is highly realistic.

By building variation into an agent, the Massive artist can populate a scene with individuals who are unique in everything from physical appearance to how they respond.

Massive costs between $6,000 and $18,000 USD. Whew.

Realistic CG water

Fluid Simulation by Scanline VFXScanline VFX has created some amazing computer generated water effects with their proprietary Flowline fluid simulation software. Their website has some great videos demonstrating what they have done.

You can create similar effects with the free open-source software Blender. Of all the physical phenomena you can simulate with Blender, fluid dynamics is the easiest.

Here are the greatly simplified steps:
1. Create a starting shape for initial state the liquid will be in. In my short video I started with a sphere.
2. Create a shape to contain the water. I used a cube that was slightly larger than the sphere.
3. Tell Blender how many frames of animation to create.
4. Tell Blender to “bake” and Blender goes to work cranking out your animation.

By default the only force acting on your fluid is gravity. You can increase the complexity by adding inflows, outflows, obstacles, etc.