Enigma version 4.4 is an integrated three-dimensional (3D)-graphics application program that includes multiple cost- and time-saving features. Enigma provides capabilities for building geometric models, key-frame animation, and video recording, and provides graphical front ends for use by simulation application programs. Enigma can add textual and graphical overlays and can incorporate such visual effects as fades and dissolves — features unavailable in many other 3D-animation software packages. What is most remarkable about Enigma is that additional expensive editing hardware is not necessary for taking advantage of all of these features.

Cost and time savings have already accrued at Johnson Space Center, where major simulation application programs are being ported to Enigma, and at other NASA centers, at the facilities of U.S. government contractors, and at the Canadian Space Agency. There is no doubt that Enigma can prove useful to other government agencies and to private industries. Within months of its introduction in April 1995, Enigma was already in use at approximately 100 sites. Although several commercial products could offer competition to Enigma, none offers the full capabilities inherent in Enigma — especially in terms of rendering speeds and flexibility.

Enigma was originally developed for the U.S. space program. It was needed because several Space Shuttle and Space Station engineering and mission operations activities have related but divergent 3D-visualization requirements. The space program has unique software requirements pertaining to (1) generating 3D solid models for various uses, (2) defining the hierarchical relationships between models and other elements (e.g., cameras and light sources) common to 3D environments, (3) generating graphical displays that reflect the outputs of simulations, and (4) producing animation sequences for documentation and training.

Prior to the advent of Enigma, these requirements were addressed individually, primarily by developing dedicated software or purchasing commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software. However, COTS software offered as many disadvantages as advantages. It was costly to purchase or develop COTS software that had to be converted in order to render it useful for multiple products. It was also costly to lose time waiting for procurement, development, and execution of products. Moreover, cooperative efforts were hindered by data-conversion requirements and by the unfamiliarity of engineering personnel with software tools procured or developed by other groups. Enigma overcame these disadvantages.

Enigma version 4.4 affords capabilities to build 3D solid models, define hierarchical relationships between models and other elements in the 3D environment, define and record animation on a video or computer disk, and generate graphical displays for simulation software. The program also features an on-line hypermedia documentation system. Enigma can be used as a stand-alone model-building, animation, and non-dynamic simulation software tool, and as a display driver to provide graphical support for other simulation software tools. The only support Enigma cannot supply is audio support.

This program was written by Sharon Goza and Michael Goza of Johnson Space Center and Thomas Field, Mark Manning, Kurt McMullen, David Shores, Mike Gaboury, Sheila Haun, Sephanie Grizzle, and Cheyenne McKeegan of Muniz Engineering, Inc. For further information contact the Johnson Space Center Commercial Technology Office at (281) 483-0474.