MetaCreations Carrara

Inspired by its siblings Ray Dream and Infini-D, Carrara collects more than 600 impressive features inside a stylish interface. It will gratify picky pros and hobbyists, but may daunt novices.

Carrara's interface resembles that of MetaCreations' Bryce landscape creation software: icons glow when activated, navigation knobs allow fluid manoeuvres through 3D scenes, and preview screens let you accelerate work on special effects. Trays slide out from the sides of the screen to reveal animation controls, property settings, or libraries of pre-set objects and effects.

Different stages of model production occur in five separate rooms (Assemble, Model, Storyboard, Texture and Render), each equipped with suitable tools and effects. The Model room, for example, makes available six model-making modes for shaping organic forms, creating models from math formulas, turning TrueType fonts into 3D logos, or sculpting fantasy landscapes. The only thing missing is a Drop Object command to help ensure that your models rest on the ground.

Carrara mimics real-world nuances beautifully, distorting a rubber ball as it bounces off a wall or straightening an arm when you tug on a character's hand. Optical and atmospheric effects (such as blurring fast-moving objects or simulating dusty beams of light) are equally cool. And unlike most 3D apps, Carrara renders these effects lickety-split.

Carrara imports and exports images and models in most popular 2D and 3D formats, including JPEG, GIF, AVI, QuickTime, VRML (1 and 2), and MetaCreations' MetaStream format. For the tools it delivers, Carrara is a bargain.

MetaCreations Carrara

Price: $799

Distributor: Scholastic New Media

Phone: (02) 4328 3555

URL: www.metacreations.com; www.scholastic.com.au

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