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A MultiMedia Bonanza

Those attending the show to see the latest in video and multimedia were not disappointed.

The hit of the show for integrated media professionals came from Alias Research Inc., who demonstrated “the world’s first freeform 3D illustration and design package,” Alias Sketch[tm]. Most 3D packages require lathing and extruding shapes in multiple windows, showing the object’s top, bottom and side views. In Sketch, everything is created in a single 3D perspective with freeform drawing tools. Very cool! Sketch should ship in October according to their marketing people, a month or so later if you talk with others in the company.

For 2D drawing & illustration, Deneba Software’s Canvas 3.0 stood out as the winner. The addition of gradient fills, object blending, the ability to convert TrueType and Type 1 fonts to editable outlines, CMYK and Pantone support and full System 7 support makes this upgrade a powerhouse. Registered users of any version of MacDraw, MacDraft, Illustrator and FreeHand can upgrade to Canvas 3.0 for $149. Do it! Upgrades for Canvas owners are $99, or $129, depending on the version of Canvas you own.

MacroMind showed its upcoming System 7 savvy upgrade of Director. Version 3.0 supports Apple events, the ability to play sounds while a movie is loading, better memory management and anti-aliasing.

A number of vendors demonstrated QuickTime-compatible versions of their software in an Apple suite off the show floor. Acius showed a QuickTime 4D database and Gold Disk, Inc. incorporated QuickTime movies into its Animation Works program. The hardest hit by QuickTime may be those developers who forged ahead of Apple and developed their own proprietary compression utilities. Storm Technology may survive QuickTime’s introduction because its Picture Press hardware and software combination offers enormous control over how an image is compressed.

The major players in the video display arena treated the crowds to much of the same as in previous expos, but bigger, faster, and with more colors. RasterOps announced its MediaTime board which combines CD quality audio with 24-bit real-time video and graphics display. RasterOps also introduced the Expresso, a personal slide scanner. Imagine a microscope designed by Krupps that scans 35mm slides and puts out an NTSC video image that can be captured with any video frame grabbing device. You’ve just imagined the Expresso.

Radius introduced the Ergo:Shield, a custom-fitted glare shield that reduces ELF and VLF emissions from their monitors to be in compliance with Swedish emission standards.

The longest line at the show wrapped around SuperMac’s booth where show goers were posing in front of a blue screen waiting to have their image overlaid onto one of Faneuil Hall Marketplace to create a four second video postcard on disk. SuperMac accomplished this with the aid of its VideoSpigot card, which digitizes incoming video and stores it in a compressed movie form. These movies can be edited together into longer pieces using SuperMac’s ReelTime software.

MASS Microsystems showed the JPEG & System 7 savvy version of their QuickImage 24 video capture card, and a video card that outputs flicker-free 8-bit NTSC video

The most impressive video output device at the show, the NewTek Video Toaster, does not run on a Macintosh. This amazing device is based on a Commodore Amiga and can take multiple live NTSC video sources and create broadcast quality transitions between them or overlay graphics onto them. It can also read Macintosh PICT and EPS files and convert them into broadcast quality video. The Toaster comes standard with a 24-bit paint program and a 24-bit 3D animation program. All this for $3995. The folks at NewTek are working on a version of the software which will control all of the features of the Toaster from a Mac. If you need to create high quality desktop video but are on a budget, check out the Toaster.

Digital F/X announced upgrades to the Video F/X system that include support for A/B roll, non-linear editing, and PICS animation. A/B roll is the process where one full motion video source transitions in to another using a wipe or a dissolve. This ability is one of the most fundamental parts of professional video production, yet is not addressed by most Macintosh video solutions. In non-linear editing, editors work with digitized pieces of video and sound to avoid the time spent waiting for video tape machines to shuttle back and forth. It may not sound like much to a Mac user, but very few professional video houses can offer the sophistication of non-linear editing.

CalComp Inc. has announced a challenge to Wacom’s (pronounced Wack-com) dominance of the graphics tablet market with the introduction of pressure sensitive pens to CalComp’s Drawing Board II series of graphics tablets. The CalComp pens offer 256 levels of pressure compared to Wacom’s 64 pressure levels, but Wacom has succeeded in getting the developers of all of the major 24-bit software to support its product in the past year. If CalComp can match Wacom’s compatibility, they could have a winner.

The multimedia dud of the show was Intelligent Resources’ Video Explorer Card. The arrival of this $8000 card has been anxiously awaited since its slick demo tape was shown at last year’s Boston Expo. Now shipping, the card requires RGB video input and output rather than the more common composite or S-Video connections. Unfortunately, this means that to interface with most pieces of video equipment, the card requires an expensive RGB encoder and decoder. To offset this deficiency, Intelligent Resources is bundling the card with the ElectricImage[tm] Animation System, Time Art’s Oasis[tm], MacroMind Media Maker[tm], and Letraset’s LetraStudio and ColorStudio for $8800. Hopefully, Intelligent Resources will offer inexpensive, composite NTSC and S-Video input and output modules for the Video Explorer in the near future.

Information from:
Earl Christie — [email protected]
Fidonet: Earl Christie on 1:101/485
AOL: EarlChr

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