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/// 1993 World of Commodore Show Report
By Dan Zerkle
Part 3, Seminar by Axiom
This is part 3 of my report from the World of Commodore Amiga
show held in Pasadena, California, on September 10th, 11th, and
12th. This section details what I saw at the seminar Axiom
Software (about ANIM Workshop and Wavemaker). I will continue to
post sections each night until I finish. There should be at
least three more sections. This section will be a bit shorter
than the other sections.
A whole lot of people wrote to explain to me just what "multi-
session" means on a CD-ROM. Holger Lubitz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
said that I could use his explanation. Here it is:
Multisession refers to a CD recorded in several sessions.
This indeed happens only with Photo CDs. When the first few
pictures are recorded to the CD (Photo-CDs are write once media),
they look like a normal single-session CD, just not a very
full one (since Photo CDs can take a hundred photos or so, one
film fills just a quarter of them). The problem arises when
you record more pictures on the same CD. Because the directory
has already been written, and it is a write once media, you can't
just append the new pictures to the old directory. Instead, you
have to start a new session on the unused space.
Thus, the firmware in the drive must be able to read fragmented
directory informations, and it must also be able to read past
the "end" of the CD (past the first session, that is).
Older drives cannot do that, thus Photo-CD-compatible drives
must have multi-session capability. Double speed is not
necessary, though it helps a lot regarding access times.
Matt Simmons (email@example.com) had a comment about the
price of the 12" laser discs:
LaserDiscs cost about $10-20 to press, and typically cost $30-$60
(not $100). The only $100+ discs are the Criterion Collection
discs, the Fox VideoCollectors Discs, and other Special
Thanks for the help, guys!
These folks had a seminar Friday at 12:45. At the demonstration,
they showed of their new software: ANIM Workshop and Wavemaker.
ANIM Workshop is a software package to help build, edit, and
otherwise manage animations. One of their folks (all I got was
"Scott") used the package to put together and eight-frame
animation of some spinning marbles. The package allows you to
easily add and remove frames. It has a slick user interface to
help with this. I noticed that it had some sophisticated tools
for dealing with all the files that store the original frames of
The other use of the package was for large-scale image
processing. It uses AREXX to control Art Department Pro (from
ASDG). With this combination, you can (for example) change the
whole animation to 16-color, all in one pass. The whole thing
It was not demonstrated at the seminar, but ANIM workshop has
another interesting feature. If you use it to play back your
ANIM, you can tie sound effects to different frames.
After that, Tony Stutterheim demonstrated WaveMaker. This is a
tool to create animated flying logos for video by generating
scripts for NewTek's LightWave software.
Again, the user interface looked quite good. Instead of going
through the complicated object and motion path design, you just
select your logo, click on one of the many motion paths for your
logo, select some background elements, and you're done. Well,
not quite done. You have to wait for the animation to render,
first. A utility to render all the frames is built in.
I found the elements to be the most interesting. Elements are
"all that junk in the background." WaveMaker has quite a few
pre-fabricated elements, like lines and other neat stuff zipping
around. You can select different speeds, densities (how many),
and sizes. You can even layer several different kinds of
elements on top of each other. I imagine it could get messy very
The motion paths for the logos to use while entering and exiting
the screen are all pre-designed. You just click on an icon
representing the path you want, and you're set. You can tweak
some parameters here to get exactly what you want.
Stutterheim showed some demonstration tapes he had generated.
The logos looked very slick. The motion looked quite good, with
proper accelleration to and from stopped motion. The elements
buzzing around in the background looked really slick.
It takes about five minutes to put together a flying logo
animation with WaveMaker. If you need to do that sort of this,
this package could be a real time saver.
Both of these packages were beta software. The press release
says that they will be ready by the fourth quarter of this year.
Tomorrow: OpalVision from Centaur Development, plus whatever
interviews I have time to write up.
I don't have the spec sheets for OpalVision. Can someone supply
the info so I can put up numbers? Otherwise, I'll just go with
notes and the advertisements.
1668 East Cliff Road
Burnsville, MN 55337-1300
Fax : 612/894-1127
Part 4, Seminar by Centaur and Terra Nova Booth
This is part 4 of my report from the World of Commodore Amiga
show held in Pasadena, California, on September 10th, 11th, and
12th. This section details what I saw at the seminar held by
Centaur Development (about Opalvision). I will continue to post
sections each night until I finish. There should be at least
three more sections.
CENTAUR DEVELOPMENT SEMINAR
Since there seemed to be so much noise about Opalvision, and
because Pjotr was interested in it, I dropped by the Centaur
Development seminar on Saturday.
Opalvision itself is a 24-bit graphics card for Amigas with a
video slot. It has been around for a few months, and people know
about it, so I won't go into much detail. Basically, it offers
768 x 480 resolution (with 24 bits per pixel), enough speed for
real-time double-buffered animation in 24 bits per pixel, and can
work in PAL mode. It lists for $699, and is bundled with paint,
animation, and presentation software. It is made by Sydney's
Opal Technology and distributed in the US by Centaur Development.
What makes Opalvision different from the other graphics cards out
there is all the "neat stuff" you can add on to it. There are
three additions, all of which give new video capabilities. The
Video Processor is a board which hooks the the main board and
provides digital video effects, frame grabbing, and genlocking.
The Video Suite is a rack-mount module that hooks to the Video
Processor. It provides five stereo sound inputs, one stereo
sound output, four composite and S-Video input with two each of
such outputs, a combination RGB and YUV input and matching
output, plus alpha channel transparency effects. The third
module is the Scan-Rate Converter/TBC, which provides scan
conversion to non-interlaced 31Khz output, and also time base
The demonstration at the seminar focussed mostly on the new video
capabilities. This combination of devices is clearly set up to
compete directly with the Video Toaster.
The Centaur people demonstrated that with the added hardware,
Opalvision can act as a sophisticated signal switcher, doing all
the expected fancy tricks used to get one video signal off the
screen and another on. You just select the effect you want from
a bank of icons and have it go either automatically or by
grabbing and moving an on-screen handle with a mouse. It
reminded me quite a lot of the Video Toaster switching software.
Some things were different though. Opalvision can do a Z-axis
rotation of an incoming picture. What's that? Set a sheet of
paper on the desk in front of you. Put a finger on the top left
corner, and another on the bottom right. Slide one corner up,
and the other down. Your paper will do a Z-axis rotation.
Also, the switcher software can switch between audio channels.
They fade in and out and can be tied to the video switching.
Finally, Opalvision provides an editor so you can produce your
own video effects for the switcher. As one picture comes on the
screen to replace another, you can control the path it follows,
the size, the rotation, and so forth. This is done by dragging
points around in a fairly friendly user interface. The motion
path is represented by a spline curve. The other parameters are
represented by a line graph.
After showing off the video tricks for awhile, the Centaur people
demonstrated OpalPaint. It seemed like a fairly standard 24-bit
paint package, but it had some tricks. It has a few image-
processessing features thrown it. The neatest trick I saw was
when a demonstrator at the booth took a digitized picture of a
red car against a fairly complicated background, and turned it
into a blue car.
After this, they showed a demonstration video. It opened with
some spectacularly bad acting involving two people poking fun at
a few of the Toaster's shortcomings. It them moved on to a
montage of demonstrations which had just been done live for us,
except that these were accompanied by loud music.
The demonstrators didn't mention the Opalvision's biggest
advantage over the Toaster: It can handle PAL mode. All the
folks in Europe and elsewhere that need to do their video in PAL
have been left out in the cold by NewTek. Opalvision will be
able to sell there without any real competition.
The video people were all quite impressed with all of this.
However, Pjotr was disappointed for one very good reason. The
video add-ons won't be ready for months yet. Yep, this stuff is
all still vaporware, and may not be available anytime this year.
Contact the address below for more information.
TERRA NOVA DEVELOPMENT
Michael Todorovic and Brad Schenck of Terra Nova demonstrated
their wares in a small but very attractive booth near the center
of the floor.
The corner of the booth was an artistically-designed tower
holding a CDTV and a large monitor. Mike's sister, Natasha,
demonstrated the CD-ROM game Labyrinth. This is a first-person
view graphical adventure. All of the scenes are beautifully ray-
traced, and displayed in HAM, as might be expected of Brad. From
any position, you can look in any of four directions, and you can
also examine some objects more closely. The detail is
incredible. It should be, as the game includes 200 megabytes of
graphics. It also contains 30 minutes of spooky music (at 25
megabytes). It seems to be one of the first games that really
uses the tremendous storage of CD-ROM.
The game seems to be addictive. Natasha spent all day Friday
playing it. The guys inside the booth made her let other people
play it the next two days. Most of the game that I saw was in an
"Old West" town, but there were plenty of other areas, too.
Labyrinth will be distributed by Electronic Arts, probably before
Christmas. It requires an Amiga with a CD-ROM drive and at least
a megabyte of chip memory. Yes, it works with CD32.
Brad was selling copies of his Diner 3D object set. I have
already published an announcement of this, so I won't go into
detail. I saw a short animation of a scene constructed with
these objects, and they looked very good.
Mike demonstrated the new Magic Lantern animation software. This
package creates, edits, and displays animations. It can display
using the Amiga's graphics, the Retina card from Macrosystems, or
the GDA card from GFXBase. It has an ARexx port for control by
other programs. It can co-ordinate sound effects with the
P.O. Box 3959
Torrance, CA 90503
FAX : 310/222-5882
BBS : 310/787-4540
Terra Nova Development
P.O. Box 2202
Ventura, CA 93002-2202
Part 5, Interviews on Show Floor
This is part 5 of my report from the World of Commodore Amiga
show held in Pasadena, California, on September 10th, 11th, and
12th. This section details interviews I conducted at the booths
on the show floor. I will continue to post sections each night
or so until I finish. There should be at least two more
After the keynote address, I went by the booth of Heifner
Communications, Inc. They were, of course, showing off their new
Pegger JPEG compression software. I managed to talk with several
I have already posted an announcement of Pegger on the group, so
I won't go to extreme detail here. Pegger wedges in to the file
system to notice when a graphics file is being written. It
automatically compresses the file using the JPEG standard,
resulting in up to fifteen-to-one savings in disk usage. It
translates the file right back when it is read. Heifner
Communications is promoting it as a low-cost alternative to a
large hard drive.
They were also demonstrating their Toaster Cozzy 4000. This is
basically a little box that sits on top of your 4000 (or, I
presume, 3000), and holds one of Newtek's Video Toaster cards.
While this is less essential with the introduction of the Toaster
4000 (the older Video Toaster doesn't fit properly into a 3000),
it does free up a Zorro 3 slot.
The main business of Heifner Communications, it turns out, is
distributing television signals to local cable stations and
providing technical support. They have been in the business for
about twelve years. The Amiga support is apparently an outgrowth
of their video work.
REFLEX POINT BBS
Somehow, this Pasadena bulletin board system managed to fund a
booth for the show. They were very ambitiously handing out
flyers to anybody who got too close. In particular, one red-
haired young woman tried to give me flyers at least five times.
I think she was doing it on purpose to get me to scream and run
away. It almost worked.
ReFLex Point <sic> is a free multi-line BBS supporting the Amiga.
The flyer hints at networked electronic mail, but doesn't
indicated what kind. It has areas especially dedicated to
Japanese animation and to science fiction. It also has on-line
chat, Amiga files to download, and on-line games.
See below for dial-in lines.
SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
I had a short chat with David Griffith of Systems Development
Services. They were showing off a new educational game called
Robokeet is intended to teach spelling to early elementary school
children. SDS intends to eventually sell it on CD-ROM for CDTV
and CD32, but the version they demonstrated was running from
normal magnetic disk.
The game seemed to consist of two kinds of segments. In one
segment, you get to try to spell words. If you do well here, you
get to arm a parakeet with various weaponry and armor. The other
segment is a side-scrolling arcade sequence. Your brave budgie
sets out to shoot down the enemy. If you do well with the
spelling, this sequence is easier.
(no address given)
Fax : 314/445-0757
ReFLex Point BBS
Systems Development Services, Inc.
Route 4, Box 41AA
Dupont Plaza, Room 2W
Parkersburg, WV 26101