Monday, August 11, 2008

Khronos: Collada 1.5.0 Specification

The Khronos Group announced that it has released the new Collada 1.5.0 specification, which includes significant new functionality to further broaden the applicability of this standard for 3D digital asset exchange.

According to the company, 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 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 companies 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, the company said.

Additionally, according to the company, 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 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 said it 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 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, the company said.


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