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                         Review: FantaSeas PhotoCD
  Bohuslav Blahut                                    bmb000@dns.colum.edu
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FantaSeas- a portfolia PhotoCD

Many Amiga owners still don't have CD rom drives.  While other platforms
have more of a pressing need for CD roms, most Amiga software publishers
still provide software on Double-Density floppy discs.  In the past.  there
were few advantages (and even fewer titles) offered Amiga CD rom owners,
but that is rapidly changing.  If you use your Amiga for graphics,
animation, or video, there are a number of exciting new CD roms available
to the Amiga owner. 

CD rom readers are coming down radically in price.  Internal SCSI 2x units
start at $50, though if you can afford to, you should consider a 4x drive.
In my day to day use of a 4x, it seems as fast as a harddrive.  AmigaDOS
3.0 or higher already has built-in facilities for reading CDroms, but 2.0
users have to find other ways to make their systems CD compatible.

While there are several PD tools for accessing CDs, I have had the best
success with ASIMcdfs, a commercial product.  ASIMcdfs has facilities for
converting PhotoCds to Amiga IFFs, and has a great library program for
audio CDs.  ImageFX can load PhotoCDs as well.  I mention Photo CDs because
there have been more and more available texture PhotoCDs for multiplatform
use.  Corel (makers of Corel Draw) have come out with a series of photoCDs
for Mac and PC use, but as long as the disc is in ISO-9660 format, it
should read on your Amiga.  Other CDs are available with TIFF and Jpeg
format images, so armed with your CD rom reader and your favorite IP
software, you have expansive choices from an inexpensive armada of
textures. 

Caveat Emptor, as usual.  Just because it's on CD, that doesn't gurantee
you the best possible quality.  I've bought texture CDs with almost
unusable fuzzy HAM format imagery.  However, I've found that PhotoCD
selections represent better quality.  One of the best I've seen is
FantaSeas from Amiga Library Services.  This 2 disc set is readable by any
CDrom that supports Kodak's PhotoCD format.

The discs contains almost 300 (most photo CDs have around 100 photos) of
undersea life and exploration.  I used ImageFX to load the pictures onto my
DraCo.  The images are stored in full photo quality on the disc, and
different viewers/programs will treat the large-resolution phot images in
different ways.  ImageFX's PhotoCD loader gives you the option of loading
the image at the following reolutions: 192x128, 384x256, 768x512,
1536x1024, 3072x2048 Lo Res, and 3072x2048 Hi Res.

If you open the image on a 24bit screen, you'll be treated to a bevy of
beautiful underwater photography.  There are series of photos of fish,
anemones, divers, skulls, shipwrecks, and more.  All of the pictures are
indexed by description and name in the Cd's booklet.  These photos could be
great backgrounds in Lightwave 3D, the closeups could be highly-detailed
imagemapped textures for models.  You could bluescreen actors in diving
suits against these deep sea scenes, and perhaps animate some bubbles over
the background to add some life to the still.  ImageFX would be perfect to
add a slight ripple to the imagery to camouflage it's still photograph
origin.

Since these pictures can be interpreted by your Amiga in a number of
different resolutions, this means that you can use FantaSeas equally well
in video projects as well as publishing at full photo quality.  Your
purchase of FantaSeas includes your right to include these images in your
work with a run of under 5000 copies.  A deal to be sure.   (How did I get
through this review without making the obligatory "make a splash in your
video with FantaSeas jokes?")

  available from:

    Amiga Library Services
    610 N. Alma School Rd., Suite 18
    Chandler, Arizona 85224-3687
    USA

    call:  1.800.804.0833
    email: info@amigalib.com

    FantaSeas: $49.95
    Shipping:  $ 3.95