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3D In 2013: What We're Looking Forward To in the Upcoming Year

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We've already looked back, recapping the month of December, and giving a round of applause for some of the highlights of 2012. Now it's time to take a look forward.

Predictions are always hard, especially in the rapidly evolving technology sector, but it's always a lot of fun to guess at what the up and coming trends will be. Here are some of the things we're looking forward to (or hoping for) in the year 2013:

1. The Continued Rise of 3D Printing

It seems like everyone in the world is optimistically predicting that 2013 will be the year that 3D printing goes mainstream. This year, 3D printing entered the public consciousness, companies like Shapeways saw fantastic growth, and significantly more 3D printers were sold than ever before.

3D printing will be much more widely known outside of technology circles before the end of the year, but I think it's still too early to say that 2013 will be the year that it goes mainstream. Of course, if a corporate chain like Staples comes out of left-field and begins offering on-site printing, then I could very well be wrong.

Either way, this will almost certainly be the biggest growth year for the technology to date.

2. Smaug

I think everyone has that one character they've been dying to see on the silver screen since they were a child. I read the Hobbit at a ripe young age, and I've been waiting a decade for the Hobbit adaptations to come to fruition. The first chapter in a planned trilogy was released to mixed reviews, but for the most part I found it to be excellent escapist film-making. Far from a disappointment.

But the best is yet to come.

While you could make a strong argument that "Riddles in the Dark" is the best scene in The Hobbit, anyone would tell you that Bilbo's encounter with the dragon Smaug is a close second.

3. ZBrush 5

In 2012, updates to Zbrush brought us Dynanesh, Fibermesh, Micromesh, Qremesher, and the Insert Brushes, along with dozens of smaller, less heralded features like ClayPolish, Panel Loops, and Wax Preview. These are massive, workflow altering additions to the software, and all of them came in the form of incremental updates. If this is is the kind of stuff that Pixologic is including in their intermediate releases (ZBrush 4 has had five fractional releases—the most current version of the software is ZBrush 4, Release 5), what sort of game-changers are they developing for Zbrush 5? There's no guarantee that Zbrush 5 is coming in 2013, but we have a feeling it is.

4. Autodesk's Next Step


I'm not going to sit here and belittle Autodesk, because I happily use their software every single day. However, 2012 was punctuated by (what many saw as) a disappointing release cycle, widespread layoffs, and the recent departure of Mark Petit, head of the company's media and entertainment division (which produces Maya, 3DS Max, and Mudbox).

Will things improve for Autodesk in 2013, or will the software giant remain in the development doldrums? The exodus of a department head can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the circumstances. It will be interesting to watch how the story develops. One thing is clear, the next 12 months are very, very important if Autodesk wants to keep their position at the top of the industry.

5. More Information On the Next Generation of Game Consuls:


Whether or not the next consuls from Microsoft and Sony are released in 2013, we're almost certainly going to know a lot more about them before the year is out.

The gulf between PC and consul graphics is wider than its been in many, many years, so the next-generation of console hardware will have a huge bearing on the trajectory of the industry. In addition to graphics specifications, we're eager to learn how Microsoft and Sony will handle native 3D support, motion sensitivity, and the continued rise of social gaming and free-to-play sales models.

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