By Herbert Festoff at MILIA
The world is a better place with Apple. There’s no benefit to be had if we just suddenly only have one choice left. In a long- ranging discussion I had at the MILIA new media conference in Cannes with Kai Krause, described by the Los Angeles Times as a legendary computer graphics innovator, this is the message he wanted to get across. Kai is the creative force behind MetaTools and he’d just come from participating with MILIA d’Or main prize winner Peter Gabriel in the closing keynote, brilliantly arranged by Apple’s head of new media, Satjiv Chahil. After dazzling the audience with some new technology (especially his forthcoming Soap photo editing software), Kai had also announced the merger of Carpinteria, California-based MetaTools Inc, renowned for its line of professional image-editing tools and its immensely successful Kai’s Power GOO consumer product, with another strong player in visual computing software, Fractal Design Corp of Scotts Valley, California, the makers of natural media graphics applications like Painter, Detailer, Expression and Ray Dream Studio. By combining their efforts and incorporating the 3D technology MetaTools recently acquired from a Russian team that worked on their space program, the new and still unnamed firm aims to be one of the powerhouses in consumer and professional photography and video, digital imaging, animation, animation, 3D and data visualization and graphics. Even though Apple has been one of the main participants at MILIA since it began four years ago, this time it really had a massive presence. Taking over an entire floor of the Palais des Festivals, Apple tied the showcase of its own multimedia and Internet-related technologies and products from a large number of invited third-party exhibitors under the banner, The Masters of Media. This was almost a show and conference in itself, and actually the schedule of conference sessions, hands-on workshops, product launches and non-disclosure demos of unannounced products was so full it made getting to the rest of MILIA an awesome task over the four days of the event. Given that so many developers, both commercial and in-house, are dependent on the Mac OS or make heavy use of Apple technology, those sessions dealing with the new versions of QTML (QuickTime Media Layer) components like QuickTime, QTVR and QuickDraw 3D were often packed. Other popular sessions were on DVD (Apple is fully committed to it and said it would have machines with built- in drives by end 1997), Java and the Mac OS, HyperCard (which will probably be relaunched this year as a powerful multimedia tool). Apple Europe, one of the ailing company’s strongest regions, used MILIA to launch some interesting initiatives. On the consumer side, Disney Interactive reaffirmed the partnership it started at last year’s MILIA with Apple in Europe in bringing out the Apple Magic Collection, Mac versions of some of Disney’s most popular consumer titles in this market. Announcing a joint development effort with Apple Ireland which makes specific use of Apple technologies, the company will soon launch the first of three Mac titles (also available on Windows, with other capabilities), the 101 Dalmatians Live Action Print Studio. Probably the most important announcement of interest to multimedia producers was the imminent launch only in Europe (with other regions including the US perhaps to follow with other configurations) of a Web Authoring Solution bundle of sixteen software applications from a range of third parties like Macromedia, Claris, Fractal, Specular, Netscape and Strata. According to Apple Europe officials I spoke to, the overall price for the bundle could be up to 80% off the normal price. The idea is to offer budding Web publishers an all-in-one solution which takes advantage of the Mac’s ease of use and allows the rest of us to create compelling Web sites with images, sounds, MIDI, video, VR scenes and 3D models. Some of the applications included are Macromedia Director 5.0 and SoundEdit Pro 16, Claris HomePage 2.0, the HexWeb XT Quark extension from HexMac Software Systems, Strata VideoShop 3.0 and Terran MovieCleaner Pro 1.3. It’ll be a real bargain when details are known later this month. As Kai put it, it’s healthy to have Apple around.