Wednesday, August 06, 2008

COLLADA 1.5.0 Specification With New Automation, Kinematics, and Geospatial Functionality

The Khronos Group is pleased to announce that it has released the new COLLADA 1.5.0 specification, which includes significant new functionality to further broaden the applicability of this leading standard for 3D digital asset exchange. The expanded functionality includes B-reps (boundary representations) and kinematics for CAD, automation, and interactive entertainment applications, and georeferencing of geospatial assets for GIS and mapping software. Following the lead of early adopters like SOFTIMAGE|XSI, Google SketchUp, and NVIDIA FX Composer 2, many authoring packages have now added support for importing and exporting COLLADA assets, including Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya, Crytek CryENGINE 2, AMD RenderMonkey, Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended, Harris Inscriber G7, and virtual world applications including Vivaty and SceneCaster. Khronos has also released the COLLADA 1.4.1 2nd Edition specification and is planning a Conformance suite for COLLADA 1.4 for release in 2008. The new COLLADA specifications are publicly available at

The new B-rep and kinematics functionality in COLLADA 1.5 is unprecedented in a royalty-free standard and enables COLLADA to be adopted by the AutomationML group, a consortium of automotive industry leaders that includes Daimler and ABB, as the intermediate language for CAD automation work flows. COLLADA 1.5 also provides a new OpenGL ES 2.0 effects profile and enhanced support for external shader effects systems, enabling a wider range of content authoring tools for game developers using frameworks such as Microsoft XNA with DirectX.

Additionally, COLLADA 1.5’s accurate georeferencing of geospatially defined assets enable GIS applications to blend real and virtual 3D assets. With Google's participation in the COLLADA working group, a new file format extension called .zae (Zipped Asset Exchange) has been introduced in COLLADA 1.5 to enable zipped COLLADA models and their assets, often created in Google’s popular SketchUp 3D modeling tool, to be distributed through the Google 3D Warehouse. Support for this functionality is expected in SketchUp version 7, due out later this summer.

Khronos will continue to support COLLADA 1.4 for existing users while developing the COLLADA 1.5 XML schema features for new markets. Consequently, the Khronos Group also today announced the availability of the COLLADA 1.4.1 2nd Edition specification. This updated specification release includes corrections, clarifications, and minor additions to the documentation for the widely used COLLADA 1.4 standard. The updated specification includes enhanced explanations for transparency, animation, lighting, splines, and skinning.

The COLLADA working group is planning a fourth-quarter release of the Conformance Test Suite for COLLADA 1.4 that comprises a complete GUI and scripting framework that integrates testing methodology with authoring tools and rendering applications and contains up to 500 COLLADA-based content test cases.

“As more and more applications support COLLADA, the world of 3D content is becoming more open and accessible,” said Mark Limber, SketchUp product manager at Google. “Google is pleased to participate in and support this important effort.”

“Softimage is dedicated to cutting edge technology that leverages open source standards to bring complete solutions to customer problems,” said Marc Stevens, general manager of Softimage, and vice president of AVID Technology, Inc. “As such, we see COLLADA as a key strategic component of our future. COLLADA is the only true open format that facilitates 3D data interchange. The latest release adds many features, including a referenced texture archive and support for real-time shaders — exemplifying how COLLADA is leading the way in open workflows. Softimage recently implemented a rich content pipeline to the Crytek, CryENGINE2, based completely on a COLLADA interchange; we’re fully committed to supporting the advancement of the COLLADA standard, which delivers the most productive work-flows for our SOFTIMAGE|XSI customers.”

“COLLADA 1.5 is a very significant release as it contains new functionality that enables completely new industries to use COLLADA – as well as expanding the use of this widely used standard in its traditional content-creation markets,” said Neil Trevett, President of Khronos. “The industry momentum of COLLADA has now reached a critical tipping point – it has become a genuine lingua franca for 3D designers everywhere.”

This year’s COLLADA BOF (Birds of a Feather) offers an exciting array of speakers who will talk about their work in gaming and visualization, demonstrate some cool new content creation tools, and even show COLLADA used for communicating with 3D digital printers for the first time! Expect to hear almost a dozen presenters at the Siggraph COLLADA BOF. Sign up to attend here.


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