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/// World of Commodore Amiga Show Report
    ------------------------------------
    By Dan Zerkle
    (zerkle@cs.ucdavis.edu)



Part 6, Interviews on Show Floor


This is part 6 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.


READER COMMENTS

First, some comments from the readers about previous sections of
this report.

From Yves Perrenoud (pyves@nuga.alphanet.ch) comes this comment
about the sound on MPEG discs:

----------- (BEGIN QUOTE) -------------
The sound from the MPEG disks is compressed using a standard
similar to the one used for the MiniDisk (ATRAC : Adaptive
Transform Acoustic Coding). It is based on physiological studies
of the human ear (it's sensitivity varies according to
frequency).
------------ (END QUOTE) --------------

He had a lot more to say about this.  That was the short version. 
For the long version, contact him at his e-mail address.

One of those "three guys" who ended up the the motel with Harv
and me wrote to explain who they were:

----------- (BEGIN QUOTE) -------------
Steve Herring 	- Producer
Anthony Fiarito - Grip
Chris Hufnagel (me, chuff@ee.pdx.edu) - Grip

The show we were taping is called "Cyberspace 3-D" and deals with
all aspects of technology (Even Amiga).

We did interviews of many people and products at the WOC.  Did
some taping at JPL.  Did a taping at Virtual Worlds (Robotech
center) and got cancelled for Foundation Imaging.  

The show will air in Portland, OR, Virginia (?), New York, and
other places.

If you need more info let me know and I'll get you the e-mail
address of the producer.   
------------ (END QUOTE) --------------


PORTAL COMMUNICATIONS

Well, Portal didn't have a booth at WOCA.  They did, however,
send Harv Laser, so I'd better mention them.

Portal is an online service.  It has file download areas, message
areas, and online chat.  It offers full-blown access to Internet
services such as Usenet, electronic mail, ftp, Internet relay
chat, telnet, and so forth.  If you are a North American without
access to all these, Portal is probably the best way to get them.

In addition, a large part of Portal, called the "Amiga Zone," is
dedicated to Amiga users.  The Amiga Zone has various important
Amiga personalities online, and you can "chat" with them online. 
It also has a vendor area dedicated to companies that sell Amiga
products.  It has a large collection of Amiga files for download,
including the entire Fred Fish collection.

Best of all, it carries comp.sys.amiga.announce.

Portal costs $19.95 per month, plus a one-time startup charge of
$19.95.  You can connect to it through Tymnet, Sprintnet, or the
Internet (via telnet).  There is no "per-minute" fee, except any
fee charged by your network.

If you do join Portal, mention that it is because of the Amiga
Zone.


ANTI GRAVITY PRODUCTS

I thought that this medium-sized booth was a just a dealer, as
they had stacks of products from various companies for sale.  I
found that they were more when Jeremy Birn saw my badge and
started describing their special products.

"Snap Maps" are 24-bit IFF texture maps intended to be used in 
3-D rendering programs.  In addition to coloring polygons, they
can cut out shapes of various objects.  This saves a tremendous
amount of time over modeling these object completely with
polygons.

There are two Snap Maps packages.  the "Fields and Foliage"
library has grass, ivy, leafy branches, flowers, and so on.  The
"Materials and Fabrics" library has cloth, wicker, nets, and
other man-made stuff.

I saw a couple pictures generated with the Maps.  They were used
to generate a picture of a fern leaf.  It looked pretty good.

Along the 3-D line, they also offered the Humanoid Human
Animation Designer.  This is a kit consisting of four 3-D models
of the human form:  a man, muscular man, woman, and child.  These
models are fully articulated and can be used to generate motion
such as walking, running, changing facial expressions, and the
like.

I was quite impressed with the demonstrations of these models. 
This package contains the most realistic, detailed electronic
model of the human body I've ever seen.


WARM AND FUZZY LOGIC

Warm and Fuzzy Logic had the most controversial product at the
show.  This product is "LightRave."  It is a hardware module that
allows you to run NewTek's 3D graphics package, LightWave,
without the need for NewTek's Video Toaster.

LightRave adds a few features to LightWave.  With it, you can
render to a normal Amiga screen or to a 24-bit graphics card. 
There is no trouble using it in PAL mode.  It can render directly
to GVP's ImageFX image processing program.  It is faster than
rendering with a Toaster installed.  It will work with any Amiga
computer with enough memory.

Of course, to use this, you have to find a copy of LightWave
somehow.


EUPHONICS

One of the most interesting new products at the show was the
Lightworks Graphics Synthesizer from Euphonics.  This is a
hardware/software combination package that is a little hard to
describe.  It lets you engage in what I call "performance
graphics".

Basically, Lightworks lets you display actively changing graphics
in conjunction with music.  These graphics can be patterns,
pictures, or anything you want.  The graphics can change in
response to scripts, audio input, MIDI input, or an active user. 
Many of the supplied patterns are intended to be genlocked over
live video.

The package includes a controller box with eight sliders.  These
can be used to control almost any part of the display.

On display was one fancy geometric pattern changing its pallate
in response to audio input.  Another was a graphic display
indicating the bass, midrange, and treble response to more music.

The package is intended for music technicians and disk jockeys. 
You really have to see it to understand how it works.  I have
only mentioned a few of the features.  In the hands of a capable
artist, it could have considerable potential.


ADDRESSES

Anti Gravity Products
456 Lincoln Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA  90402
PHONE: 310/393-6650
FAX  : 310/576-6383

Euphonics
138 North Main Street, Suite 111
Sebastopol, CA  95472
PHONE: 800/892-3325

Portal Communications Company
20863 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 200
Cupertino, CA  95014
PHONE    : 408/973-9111
MODEM    : 408/725-0561
V.32BIS  : 408/973-8091
SPRINTNET: c Portal

Warm and Fuzzy Logic, Inc.
2302 Marriot Road
Richmond, VA  23229
PHONE: 804/285-4304



                      ------------------------------



Part 7, Interviews on Show Floor


This is part 7 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.


DIGITAL CREATIONS

The folks at Digital creations had three new products and seemed
quite proud of themselves.

First and foremost, of course, was Brilliance, their paint
program.  This program works in all of the Amiga's graphics
modes, including HAM-8.  It has a wealth of features, including
considerable animation abilities.

Most of you have probably seen the advertising for this program,
which shows a magnificent painted lagoon scene.  Now that the
program is shipping, Digital Creations shows the entire picture,
including the fish swimming about under water.  The promotional
material opens up to form a big poster of this picture.

Digital Creations has another genlock.  This one is called the
SuperGen SX.  It is a high-performance tool designed to handle
the more sophisticated graphics modes available on the newer
Amigas.  It has one slider apiece for the background and the
graphics, plus a switch to quickly disable itself for when it is
not needed.  It has both S-Video and composite inputs and
outputs.

Their most interesting piece of hardware was their video slot
box, available in late October.  This is a mini-tower case with a
230 watt power supply containing four video slots!  Once you hook
it up to your Amiga, you'll be able to use up to four devices
that make use of the video slot.

Some video slot boards are "active."  Only one of these may
function at a time.  The slot box will turn off all but the one
you select.  "Passive" boards, which just listen to the signals
on the video slot, may operate at the same time as other boards.

The box also holds three ISA slots (PC-AT style) with power and
ground only available.  Some time base corrector cards can be
placed in these slots.  It also has room for extra tape and disk
drives, which may be connected to the power supply.  It should
list for about $895.


VIDEOPOLIS R&D

Pat Keith and his son were showing off Videopolis' new product,
called the Video Palace.  This is another mini-tower case, but
this one holds an Opalvision card.  You can use it with any
Amiga, including those with no regular internal slots.  On
display was a 1200 showing an animation running on the Opalvision
card.

The case has a 200-watt power supply and can be used to hold
other things, such as a hard drive.  Mr. Keith said that he
planned to add a lot more features to the product.

The Video Palace was on sale for the show for $1200 and included
the Opalvision card.  Mr. Keith said that it was shipping and
would be sent out within 48 hours of receiving an order.


U.S. CYBERNETICS

RISC technology is clearly on the way to the Amiga, and it's not
going to wait for Commodore to figure out how to do it.

U.S. Cybernetics was showing off their prototype processor cards
carrying Inmos chips.  One model uses the T805 processor for 4.3
MFLOPS performance, while the other uses the T9000, for 50
MFLOPS.  The chips are designed to operate in parallel, to work
in conjunction with each other and with the Amiga's main
processor.  With an external box, up to 40 processors may be
installed.  If used properly, in parallel, this will give full-
blown supercomputer performance.

Programs have to be especially written to take advantage of this
technology.  U.S. Cybernetics has a development system to let
programmers write programs in Parallel C.  The programs currently
being ported to the system include Pegger, Vista Pro, ImageFX, TV
Paint, Real 3D, and Cinemorph.

I happen to have a minor in computer graphics and extensive
experience in parallel processing, so this is quite interesting
to me.  For many applications, having multiple processors does
not speed up computation much.  However, ray tracing can be
tremendously accellerated with good parallel processing.  For
instance, with well-written software, a scene that takes 2 hours
to ray-trace on an Amiga 4000 could be completed in about seven
minutes by a box with ten of these processors.  Maybe faster.

At this time, U.S. Cybernetics is not selling their RISC boards. 
It is only interested in talking to developers who will port
software to the system.  Unless you are a developer, please
don't contact them yet.

The low-end version should be available around the end of
November.  It will list for about $750.


AVID PUBLICATIONS

Avid Publications were giving away free copies of their Video
Toaster User magazine, of course.  A subcription to this will
tell you everything you ever wanted to know about how to produce
neat stuff with NewTek's Video Toaster.

In addition to the regular magazine, they are coming out with a
16-page newsletter called LightWave Pro.  This is full of advice
for people using NewTek's 3-D graphics animation program,
LightWave.  If you contact Avid, they will send you a free sample
copy.

I had a particularly infuriating exchange with one of the people
behind the counter.  She saw my press badge and properly
recognized a fellow in the media:

"Have you heard any big announcements?"

No, why?

"We've got a big scoop!"

What?

"If you don't know, I'm not going to tell you.  You're
competition."

Aw, c'mon....

"No way."

I was ready to chew tacks in frustration after that.  I think I
know what it was now, though.



ADDRESSES

Avid Publications
21611 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Cupertino, CA  95014
PHONE: 408/366-8220
FAX  : 408/725-8035

Digital Creations
P.O. Box 97
Folsom, CA  95763-0097
PHONE: 916/344-4825
FAX  : 916/635-0475

U.S. Cybernetics
DEVELOPERS ONLY
(no address given)
PHONE: 403/269-1090  (Ron Henry)
FAX  : 403/246-8478
EMAIL: John@quark.powerstar.cuc.ab.ca

Videopolis R&D
107 Park Avenue, Suite 106
Santa Maria, CA  93454
PHONE: 805/925-0970