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                       Review: Multimedia Backdrops
  Bohus Blahut- Modern Filmmaker                           bohus@xnet.com
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Multimedia Backdrops- 
  A CD rom with 100 backdrops intended for multimedia and video in 24bit IFF, 
Targa, and Tiff formats in both NTSC (752 x 480 [Toaster FrameStore size]) and 
PAL (768 x 576) sizes.

  Graphic Detail
  4556 South 3rd Street
  Louisville, KY 40214
  vox/fax: 502.363.2986
  net: michael@iglou.com

  This multiplatform CD contains duplicate directories of 100 multimedia
backgrounds in three popular formats, cutting down your need for conversion
software.  These backgrounds are usually composed to allow for text in the
foreground, and are there to add some visual interest to the overall
composition.  These backgrounds are usually fairly abstract and drawn in
muted colors so as not to call much attention to themselves.   It used to
be that if you wanted to spice up your presentation with special
backgrounds, you'd have to budget in time to create something on your own.
Then, CD roms like this one came along with the promise of lightening the
load, but does it?

  All 100 backgrounds are indexed in an "indexes" directory, each with a
color thumbnail representation.  Once you've chosen the image that you
require, you load it from the IFF, Targa, or Tiff directory.  The backdrops
are stored in both NTSC and PAL sizes, with the images in the NTSC
directory measuring in at 752 x 480, which is the same size as a Video
Toaster FrameStore.  This makes these backgrounds perfect for use in
ToasterCG, Montage 24, AlphaPaint, ImageFX, Monument Designer, etc..  
Aside from video titling, multimedia softwares like Scala and AmigaVision
could make good use of this disc.

  A good number of these backdrops look like they started life as 6-bit HAM
images.  For use in Amiga specific applications, one could reduce some of
these "24bit" pictures back down to HAM or perhaps even 256 colors, but for
use in video you'll probably need to work some of these backdrops over. 

  I performed a color count in ImageFX on some of the grainier textures in
the collection.  On the average I got around 100,000 colors; half of the
color resolution of 8-bit HAM.  Since these pictures aren't depicting
anything with wide ranges of color, 100,000 distinct colors would normally
be enough.  However, these pictures have quite a lot of posterizing in
them, so despite the color count, there aren't any fine gradation of color
in the images. 

  To get these textures to where I wanted them, I performed an IFX Gaussian
Blur or two.  You may just want to use these textures as a basis for
something that you'll create.  Some of the backdrops look like they'll tile
fairly well for applications like Web design, animated backdrops, and use
in 3D modeling and animation.  There's a good assortment of marble
backdrops with vertical marble bars for text, nature themed backgrounds,
abstract shapes, and shots of the earth. 

  While the thumbnails go a long way to help the user choose an appropriate
background for the project, it would be beneficial if the files had
individual names, and perhaps were in categorized directories.   As it
stands now, the files just have numeric monikers.  I'm more likely to
remember that my favorite background is METAL.IFF than 056.

  All in all there seems to be an even split between the good files and the
grainy ones.  Yeah, there's a bunch of good images, but if you've got your
heart set on a particular file that isn't one of the 24bit chosen few, you
may have some work ahead of you.