||This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (April 2015)|
|Stable release||8.0.2 / Feb 2015|
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X|
|Type||3D computer graphics|
form·Z is a computer-aided (CAD) design tool developed by AutoDesSys for all design fields that deal with the articulation of 3D spaces and forms and which is used for 3D modeling, drafting, animation and rendering.
form·Z is a general-purpose  solid and surface modeler with an extensive set of 2D/3D form manipulating and sculpting capabilities. It is a design tool for architects, landscape architects, urban designers, engineers, animators, illustrators and movie makers, industrial and interior designers and all other design areas. form·Z can be used on Windows as well as on Macintosh computers and in addition to English it is also available in German, Italian, Spanish, French, Greek, Korean and Japanese.
In general, form·Z allows design in 3D or in 2D, using numeric or interactive graphic input through either line or smooth shaded drawings (OpenGL) among drafting, modeling, rendering, and animation platforms.
Key modeling features include Boolean solids to generate complex composite objects; the ability to create curved surfacesfrom a variety of splines, including NURBS and Bézier/Coons patches; mechanical and organic forms using the previous as well as metaforms, patches, subdivisions, displacements, or skinning, plus specialty tools such as Terrain models, Platonic solids, geodesic spheres, double line/wall objects, staircases, helixes, screws, and bolts. In addition, form·Z supports transforming and morphing of 3D shapes, and their animated capture therein.
Technical output oriented modeling allows users to refine the design with double precision CAD accuracy to full structural detail for 3D visualization for the production of 2D construction drawings, 3D printing, rapid prototyping, and CNC milling and offers information management of bills of materials and spreadsheet support for construction documents.
form·Z offers a seamlessly integrated animation environment, where objects, lights, cameras, and surface styles (colors) can be animated and transformed over time. The animation features are object-centric and are applied as modeling operations, which, in addition to supporting the production of animated visualizations, they also support dynamic modeling and the creation of forms that go significantly beyond the repertoire of conventional modeling tools. This offers a powerful avenue for design explorations.
RenderZone Plus provides photorealistic rendering with global illumination based on final gather (raytrace), ambient occlusion, and radiosity, for advanced simulation of lighting effects and rendering techniques, which result in renderings with the most realism, as the illumination of a scene takes into account the accurate distribution of light in the environment. Consequently, excellent results are achieved in a short time, with little effort to set up and easy to control.
Key rendering features include multiple light types (distant (sun), cone, point, projector, area, custom, line, environment, and atmospheric) whereas the environment and atmospheric lights, which may be considered advanced light types, are especially optimized for global illumination. Both procedural and pre-captured textures are offered and can be mapped onto the surfaces of objects using six different mapping methods: flat, cubic, cylindrical, spherical, parametric, or UV coordinates. Decals can be attached on top of other surface styles to produce a variety of rendering effects, such as labels on objects, graffiti on walls, partially reflective surfaces, masked transparencies, and more. State of the art shaders are used to render surfaces and other effects. A surface style is defined by up to four layers of shaders, which produce color, reflections, transparency, and bump effects. They can be applied independently or can be correlated. Libraries with many predefined materials are included and can be easily extended and customized.
Also available is a sketch rendering mode that produces non photorealistic images, which appear as if they were drawn by manual rendering techniques, such as oil painting, water color, or pencil hatches.
Third Party Rendering Plugins
Maxwell is a rendering engine developed by NextLimit based on the physics of real light. The Maxwell plugin allows for the assignment of Maxwell materials to form·Z objects. Once the materials are established, the plugin transfers the scene including objects, lights and the viewing parameters to Maxwell for rendering.
form•Z on the small and big screen
In addition to its widespread use in the architecture and 3D design worlds, form•Z and RenderZone Plus are also extensively used in Hollywood - in all production stages, in and behind the scenes (set design pre-production and construction, miniature model design, pre-vis animation, CG special effects and post-production, etc.).
Additional movie references:
Pirates of the Caribbean 
Pierluigi Serraino: History of form Z, Birkhäuser, 2002, ISBN 3-7643-6563-3