Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 11 August 1997

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send mailto:duberman@dnai.com

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Today's Headlines (details below)

--GoLive Revises CyberStudio

--Microsoft Ships DirectX 5.0

--Narrowline Opens Marketplace for Internet Advertising

--Sprint Multimedia Network Supports Virtual Internships

--Adobe Announces Free After Effects Plug-ins

--Ulead Systems Ships WebRazor for Photoshop

--Silicon Graphics Delivers Optimized 3D API

--Macromedia Announces Dynamic HTML Zone

--Sierra Announces PalmPilot Software Suite

--New Riders Publishes 3DS MAX, Director 6 Books

--O'Reilly Releases VBScript CD/Book Combo

--Activision to Acquire Game Developer Raven Software

--Game of the Week: X-COM: Apocalypse

--Westwood Announces Second Red Alert Mission Disc

--Sirtech to Release Legend Adventure Trio

--Konami Kicks Off N64 Soccer Title

--iCat Receives $19.2M Investment

--Industry Vet Arnowitz to Work for Silver Creek

--Coryphaeus Names Groves President/CEO

--VRML SIG Present Two VRML Start-ups

--About Spectrum



GoLive Revises CyberStudio

GoLive Systems, Inc. announces a significant upgrade to GoLive CyberStudio, Mac-based software for designing and maintaining Web sites.

New features include:

· visual layout and design control with frames and tables. Users can drag and drop frame sets from a palette and visually resize the frames with the mouse. Version 2 also supports ActiveX controllers for Microsoft Internet Explorer.

· site management - visually check and repair broken links within a Web page, and open and edit HTML documents on Web servers for last-minute changes. Users can design, create, import, edit and view entire sites as complete projects. Multi-server support lets Webmasters link information from several independent servers.

· user-defined options give users the ability to save and name their own colors and fonts within project files.

· dynamic content creation - Web pages integrate with Apple Computer's WebObjects development platform.

The upgrade is free to all registered owners of 1.0 or 1.1 and will be available for download in the second half of August by visiting the GoLive Web site at http://www.golive.com . Users who wish to receive the upgrade on CD-ROM may order for a fulfillment fee by calling GoLive at 1-800-554-6638 or 1-415-463-1580.




Microsoft Ships DirectX 5.0

Microsoft Corp. last week released the final versions of the Microsoft DirectX version 5.0 set of APIs, the company's unified multimedia system services for the Windows 95 and Windows NT operating systems and for Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0.

DirectX 5.0 is a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) designed to let developers of games and other interactive content to access specialized hardware features without having to write hardware-specific code. The new DirectX 5.0 architecture consists of two levels of media services, DirectX foundation for low-level hardware acceleration services and DirectX media for high-level media integration services.

New features in DirectX 5.0 include:

· DrawPrimitive services for Direct3D, letting developers pass polygon information directly to the hardware rather than using execute buffers

· Progressive meshes and enhanced animations

· Advanced features of the technology currently code-named "TALISMAN" such as sort-independent anti-aliasing, range-based fog, anisotropic texture filtering and bufferless hidden surface elimination

· DirectDraw API support for accelerated graphics port (AGP) new low-resolution modes and MMX optimizations

· DirectInput API support for force-feedback devices and a new extensible game controller control panel

· The DirectPlay API with Windows NT security, client/server support and lobby client API

· DirectSound Capture and Notify APIs, to simplify use of audio streams

· DirectSound3D support for 3-D audio hardware acceleration

· DirectX Setup; a database of known configurations that simplifies user setup on all leading hardware. If the user's hardware is not recognized, DirectX Setup will inform the user of potential conflicts and allow the user to bypass driver installation or revert to the previous configuration after installation is complete.

· DirectX 5.0 foundation also includes new features that will be supported in the next version of Windows and Windows NT 5.0, such as multimonitor support, advanced graphics port AGP support, video port extensions (VPE) support, Universal Serial Bus (USB) audio support and support for USB joysticks.

The final version of DirectX 5.0 for Windows 95 is available now on CD-ROM or at Microsoft's Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/directx/. DirectX 5.0 for Microsoft Internet Explorer is scheduled to be released with Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0, and DirectX 5.0 for Windows NT is scheduled to be delivered with Windows NT 5.0





Narrowline Opens Marketplace for Internet Advertising

Narrowline, an Internet-based advertising transaction and information services company, today opened Brought To You By, an Internet media marketplace infrastructure where media buyers and Internet publishers interact to buy and sell advertising. More than 75 companies have already subscribed to Brought To You By, including ad agencies Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam, DMB&B, Anderson Lembke and Western International Media, and Internet publishers McGraw-Hill Technical Publications, Match.com, Tribune Interactive and WhoWhere?.

Subscribers using a standard Web browser enter Brought To You By via password-protected interfaces. The system promises high-volume, reliable, real-time transaction processing and ad serving and timely, accurate and bias-free measurement and reporting of each individual media purchase or program, accessible only to the parties involved.

Narrowline has developed a standard protocol used by the Brought To You By system to define advertising units based on the audience and content within a site. The "Salable Net Unit," or "SNU," is a distinct area, combination of areas or even patterns of viewer behavior within a site that offers particular value to media buyers. Internet publishers determine the SNUs they wish to post for sale and media buyers find those SNUs by searching the system for similar protocol criteria. The SNU protocol creates a "common currency" by which buyers and sellers of Internet advertising can transact directly with one another efficiently and effectively.

For more information, visit http://www.narrowline.com , or contact Peter Ostrow at 212-539-1200/ peter@narrowline.com.



Sprint Multimedia Network Supports Virtual Internships

Sprint and The Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, announced a "virtual internship" program for distance learning with Sprint's Drums, a multimedia collaboration service for the post-production industry, advertising and entertainment industries. Through the internship program, Ringling School students can send portfolios to potential employers and attend classes with "visiting" artists thousands of miles away. Ringling School also plans to use Drums to conduct classes with visiting professors who would teach and collaborate with students online.

The Ringling Design Center, a professional design studio staffed by top fourth-year graphic design and illustration students, began using Drums last year to transmit animation and graphic design projects to Ringling School's partners and corporate recruiters. Through audio, video and whiteboard collaboration, students can go online to present their projects or portfolios, discuss changes and accept feedback from industry professionals. With the real-world experiences gained through its virtual internship program, Ringling School is the target of industry-elite recruiting, sending graduates to Disney, DreamWorks SKG and Pixar Animation Studios.

For Drums information, visit http://www.sprint.com/drums/





Adobe Announces Free After Effects Plug-ins

Adobe Systems last week announced two new free plug-ins designed to extend the professional control and output options of Adobe After Effects, software for digital compositing, 2D animation and special effects. For animated text effects, Adobe introduces the Path Text Effect plug-in, while dynamic content creation for the Web becomes accessible with the Animated GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) plug-in.

Options provided in the Path Text plug-in include the ability to change the shape of the path itself over time. Special type treatments can be applied to characters such as scale, rotation, tracking, baseline shift and horizontal shear. The plug-in also allows users to fine-tune kerning between individual character pairs, and automates the task of fading text in or out one letter at a time, with precision and control. Random attributes can be applied to characters for a variety of dancing text effects. For further control, Path Text calls upon the strengths of After Effects by intelligently applying motion blur to each individual character in a layer containing Path Text.

The Animated GIF plug-in lets users choose to apply a Web-safe color palette, system palette, or their own custom palettes. Additional fine-tuning capabilities enable users to incorporate transparencies resident in their compositions into their Web animations.

Path Text will be available for Windows 95, Windows NT and Power Macintosh platforms (but will not run on 68k-based Macintosh computers). The Animated GIF plug-in will support a full range of systems including Windows 95, Windows NT, Macintosh and Power Macintosh computers.

Beginning September 1, registered users of After Effects are expected to be able to download both the Path Text and Animated GIF plug-ins for Macintosh and Windows from the Adobe Web site free of charge, after confirmation of registration ( http://www.adobe.com/prodindex/aftereffects ). Non-registered After Effects customers will also be able to obtain the plug-in free of charge by first registering their product on-line through the Adobe Web site and then downloading the plug-ins.



Ulead Systems Ships WebRazor for Photoshop

Ulead Systems, a developer of Windows-based imaging, video and Internet software, announces the immediate availability of WebRazor for Photoshop, a set of 32-bit Windows 95 and Windows NT plug-ins and utilities designed to help Adobe Photoshop users create Internet graphics.

WebRazor consists of seven plug-ins for use with versions 3.0 and 4.0 of Photoshop. They are:

· Web.Plug-ins for creating anti-aliased buttons from any shape, seamlessly tiled backgrounds, drop shadows, image map tags and more

· GIF Animator, Ulead's program for designing lean, professional-looking GIF animations

· Animation SmartSaver to allow batch optimization of GIF images in a folder, URL or Web site with zero image quality loss

· GIF SmartSaver for optimizing transparent GIF images on the fly for faster page download times

· JPEG SmartSaver, a WYSIWYG utility to balance quality and compression for progressive JPEG images

· PhotoExplorer displays images in a folder as thumbnails and allows immediate creation of multimedia slide shows and Web pages

· Photo Viewer displays most image file formats, including GIF89a files

A trial version of WebRazor can be downloaded from the Ulead Systems Web site at http://www.ulead.com . For more information, contact Ulead Systems at 800-858-5323.



Silicon Graphics Delivers Optimized 3D API

Silicon Graphics, Inc. announced immediate availability of a new, optimized version (formerly known as CosmoGL) of the industry-standard OpenGL 3D graphics application programming interface (API) for Microsoft Windows 95 and Windows NT. This new update includes support for Intel's MMX instruction set for accelerated performance on Pentium processors.

In tandem with the new optimized OpenGL for Windows, Silicon Graphics is also providing a new hardware Device Driver Kit (DDK) to enable graphics board vendors to provide accelerated OpenGL on Windows 95 and Windows NT.

This new DDK also offers full 2D graphics support through the DirectDraw API. Developer information on the DDK and OpenGL can be found on the Web at http://www.sgi.com/Technology/OpenGL/





Macromedia Announces Dynamic HTML Zone

Macromedia announces the Dynamic HTML (DHTML) Zone, at http://www.dhtmlzone.com . The DHTML Zone is a resource for Web design professionals interested in developing cross-browser multimedia content using Dynamic HTML in Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0 and Netscape's Communicator. The DHTML Zone contains tips, tricks and techniques for creating Web-based multimedia using Dynamic HTML. In addition, the DHTML Zone includes examples of how the close integration of Shockwave Director and Shockwave Flash with Dynamic HTML can be used to create high-performance DHTML multimedia.

DHTML reportedly allows Web developers greater freedom and flexibility in bringing their ideas to the Internet through animation and multimedia.

Shockwave Director and Shockwave Flash can be positioned anywhere on an HTML page, animated in front of and behind HTML objects, and able to control the position and appearance of the surrounding HTML environment.




Sierra Announces PalmPilot Software Suite

Bellevue, Wash.-based Sierra On-Line has released Software Companion, a package of software programs for 3Com PalmPilot connected organizer.

Software Companion contains 27 assorted applications, utilities and games: Utilities and applications include Graffiti Help (helps interpret Pilot handwriting), Hourz (tracks billable hours), Abroad (converts international currency, measurements, times and temperatures), Big Tipper (calculates tips based on service and percentage), Money 1.10 (expense tracker), PostCalc (metric and postage calculator), Foundme (name and address of owner), Ball (baseball score tracker), Tenpin (bowling score card), GolfTrac (golf score card), Alarm Enhancer, French, German, Japanese and Spanish translation dictionaries, Tutor (word finder), Pocket Synth (music synthesizer) and an RPN scientific calculator. Games include Blackjack, MineHunt, SubAttack, Klondike, PVPoker, Perplex, Pegged, Kalah, Hardball and a sliding square puzzle.

Software Companion is available for a street price of $29.95 at most software retailers, as well as through Sierra Direct at (800) 757-7707.




New Riders Publishes 3DS MAX, Director 6 Books

Just out from New Riders Publishing is Inside 3D Studio MAX, Volume III: Animation, with a wealth of advanced animation tips and techniques from a variety of authors for users of Kinetix's premiere 3D authoring software.

The book starts out with an overview of the computer animation industry by Sanford Kennedy, and continues with Kennedy's chapter on using 3DS MAX in production, covering meeting deadlines, working with producers, and more.

There are also chapters on advanced transformation animation, animating with controllers, expressions and multiple modifiers. In Chapter 7, Paul Kakert covers forensic animation, in which accuracy is paramount. Character animation guru George Maestri talks about setting up characters for animation, animating walking, the use of Character Studio's Biped plug-in, and the simulation of flexible skin with mesh deformation. Other chapters cover animating lights, atmospheres and cameras; facial animation and lip sync; and Kinetix's ultra-cool new Hypermatter plug-in. The CD-ROM contains exercise files and demo versions of such plug-ins as MorphMagic and Sand Blaster, but you'll need to own others to take full advantage of the book, including Digimation's Surface Tools and Infografica's Surface Tools. This book is a definite must for 3D artists doing animation with 3DS MAX.

If you're authoring with Director, the most popular program for CD-ROM and online multimedia creators, consider picking up New Riders' Inside Director 6 with Lingo, which covers the latest version of the popular and venerable program. Like the above book, this one's a collaboration, covering a broad range of topics of interest and importance to Director users. Chapter titles include The Strategy: Product Analysis and Design; Director as an Animator; Multiple Casts; Graphics: The Visuals; Adding the Third Dimension; and Managing Your Data. Other chapters cover sound, text and digital video. And for Web authors, there are chapters on designing multimedia for the Web, creating Shockwave movies and mastering Shockwave.

There's 180 pages on Lingo programming, a special chapter on extending Director with Xtras, and appendices on Lingo and Xtras. As with just about all of New Riders' "Inside" books, Inside Director 6 should be considered an essential resource for anyone using the program.



O'Reilly Releases VBScript CD/Book Combo

VBScript, a subset of Microsoft's Visual Basic programming language, is a scripting language for creating interactive Web pages with client-side scripts. "Learning VBScript," new from O'Reilly & Associates, aims to show the reader how to use VBScript to take advantage of client-side scripting by covering the rudiments of the language and delving into VBScript's advanced capabilities.

"Learning VBScript" begins with an introduction to VBScript that covers the basic features of the language and their syntax. Although these tutorial chapters are written primarily for Web content providers, they also explore the difference between VBScript and Visual Basic for Applications, the programming language used both in Visual Basic and in the individual components of Microsoft Office.

The book also contains an introduction to the Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) object model. By accessing the events, properties, and methods exposed by the browser's object model, VBScript is transformed from a fairly low-level programming language into a development tool that can be used to control the browser, allowing the creation of complex interactive Web pages.

The CD-ROM accompanying "Learning VBScript" includes over 170 code samples, and allows the reader to retrieve examples by category; one can, for instance, retrieve hyperlinks to all the Web pages that include ActiveX controls. In addition, the CD-ROM includes a customizable shopping cart application.




Activision to Acquire Game Developer Raven Software

Activision has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Raven Software Corporation, an entertainment software developer that has created such titles as Heretic and Hexen: Beyond Heretic.

The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of August. Upon completion, Raven will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision and Raven shareholders will receive 1,040,000 shares of Activision common stock. The transaction will be effected on a tax-free basis and will be accounted for as a pooling of interests.

As a result of the merger, Activision will add the Hexen and Heretic properties to its lineup of and the company plans to create new extensions and sequels to these properties.

Approximately 1,000,000 units of the Hexen and Heretic lines have been published to date.

Activision expects that Raven's long-standing business relationship with id Software will continue after the acquisition. Brian and Steven Raffel, the founders of Raven and its principal shareholders, will continue to manage the Raven studio operation.

Hexen II, which is being developed by Raven, executive produced by id Software and published by Activision, currently is slated for a September release. Raven's other upcoming game titles Mageslayer and Take No Prisoners also are expected to be released this fall.

Raven Software, founded in 1990, is based in Madison, Wisconsin.




Game of the Week: X-COM: Apocalypse

Science fiction and UFO fans alike stand guard to battle the galaxy's most insidious aliens with the release of X-COM: Apocalypse, the newest X-COM PC CD-ROM game from Spectrum HoloByte/Microprose.

X-COM: Apocalypse is the third game in the X-COM series and features an addicting blend of strategy game play and tactical squad combat. This tense, investigation-style strategy game was developed by UK developer Mythos Games, Ltd., the original creators of X-COM: UFO Defense, and is being published under the MicroProse brand and distributed worldwide.

The year is 2084. In order to overcome Earth's environmental problems caused by previous alien wars without abandoning the planet altogether, humans built a self-contained city called Mega-Primus in 2046. Although the city was initially a success, the social and physical fabric of society had begun to deteriorate and was accelerating towards complete breakdown. The cause of the changes in Mega-Primus are, of course, alien in nature! Aliens are invading the Earth through an interdimensional gateway located in Mega-Primus, taking over human bodies and actually replacing the minds of influential figures in Mega-Primus' society.

The majority of the game play takes place within Mega-Primus. This vast city, however, is more than just a combat zone. To successfully thwart the alien invasion, players must immerse themselves in the society of Mega-Primus, learning key information through interrogation of suspects and the investigation of organizations within the city.

The in-game action falls into three distinct phases: investigations, alien intrusions, and penetration of the alien world, where gamers can send specifically constructed vehicles into the alien dimension.

Although futuristic in mode, the Cityscape of Mega-Primus is retro in design. The city's streets feature art deco buildings reminiscent of 1960s architecture, while the vehicles in the game reflect a modern interpretation of the 1950s' car culture of America.

The tactical squad combat can be played in a popular turn-based mode or in a new real-time mode that offers players more action in combat. Agents and aliens can crawl, jump, climb, kneel, stand, run and walk.

While featuring the great game play that made the previous versions into classics, there's enough here to interest even the most jaded X-COM veteran, while newcomers can jump right in thanks to the extensive tutorials. X-COM: Apocalypse is a fascinating, involving game with lots of intrigue and replayability.

More information is available at http://www.microprose.com



Westwood Announces Second Red Alert Mission Disc

Las Vegas-based Westwood Studios announces Command & Conquer Red Alert: The Aftermath, the second official missions disc for the hit title. It allows seven new units to play in multiplayer mode, and will be at retailers in September 1997.

Created by the original Red Alert and Red Alert Counterstrike design team, The Aftermath will escalate the action with new features, weapons and hidden secrets. In The Aftermath, gamers can play 18 new missions in the battle of the Allies versus the Soviets and wage multiplayer ware on 100 new maps. The game will feature seven new units that can play in solo and multiplayer games including the Chronosphere Tank, Demolition Truck, Tesla Tank, Missile Sub, Shock Troopers and the M.A.D. Tank. Additional features include larger multiplayer maps, eight new music tracks, and additional new units available for solo play missions.



Sirtech to Release Legend Adventure Trio

Sirtech Software, Inc. of Ogdensburg, New York announces The Trophy Case II. Scheduled for release this month, the package will include three games from Legend Entertainment: Death Gate, Companions of Xanth, and Shannara.

The three full games come on separate CDs, with manuals combined into one volume.


Konami Kicks Off N64 Soccer Title

Getting raves from the video gaming press is Konami of America's new International Superstar Soccer 64 for Nintendo 64. The title features over 17,000 character movement animations, motion capture tracing technologies, full polygon graphics plus over 500 different words and phrases including commentary and crowd reactions add to the stunning realism of this game.

The player can choose from 36 teams, plus six all-star teams. There are four offensive strategies including Full Offense, Middle Attack, Sideline Attack and Counter Attack and four defensive strategies including Full Defense, Pressure Up, Zone Press and Offsides Trap.

Basic movements such as pass and kick are made by simple button settings.

Once players feel comfortable at the basic levels, they can change to more complicated button settings for advanced game techniques.

Konami can be found on the Web at http://www.konami.com




iCat Receives $19.2M Investment

Four-year-old iCat Corporation, a player in the emerging Internet-based electronic commerce market, has completed a $19.2 million round of financing. The investment was led by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC Wood Gundy Capital) and includes significant participation by Hancock Venture Partners. Existing iCat investors Bay Partners, JF Shea, Internet Capital Group, and TransCosmos/Encompass Group, as well as Invisions Metro AG, a large Swiss retail firm, also participated. The company today also separately announced that Jim Thompson, formerly of Itron Inc., has joined the firm as its new Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations and Chief Financial Officer.

The investment is said to be one of the largest private placements completed by an Internet software company, well above the $3m - $7m typical for later-stage private software companies

For more information, visit http://www.icat.com , or call (888) BUY-ICAT.

In Europe, visit http://www.icat.co.uk




Industry Vet Arnowitz to Work for Silver Creek

Silver Creek Digital Media, a new media agency, announced an exclusive agreement with Arnowitz New Media, a veteran producer of multimedia for the consumer, business and education markets.

Under the terms of the agreement, Arnowitz New Media founder and industry pioneer Burt Arnowitz will become the executive director of a new Silver Creek office based in the San Francisco area. Arnowitz will bring his contacts and production experience to the Silver Creek team, focusing mainly on high-profile content projects and strategic partnerships.

Arnowitz is perhaps best known in the consumer market as the creator of the pioneering edutainment CD-ROM The San Diego Zoo Presents...THE ANIMALS!, one of a handful of multimedia titles that have sold more than three million copies (in this case, mostly in multimedia bundles).

The Silver Creek Digital Media Web site is available at http://www.screek/com



Coryphaeus Names Groves President/CEO

Chris Groves has joined real-time 3D specialist Coryphaeus as president and CEO. Groves most recently headed a $40 million software business unit of Computervision. Coryphaeus products are popular with U.S and foreign governments for defense and training applications, as well as with corporations in the aerospace, aviation, urban simulation, gave development, entertainment, architecture and engineering industries. Visit the company online at http://www.coryphaeus.com




VRML SIG Present Two VRML Start-ups

On Tuesday, August 19, the Software Forum presents the VRML SIG @ Silicon Graphics in Mountain View, Calif. (6:30-7:30 PM schmooze, 7:30-8:30 PM presentations). The VRML SIG will present two VRML start-ups, one from Los Angeles and one from San Francisco; one for the PC platform and the other on the MAC.

As well, an update on the working groups within the VRML Consortium will be presented.

Presenters are:

3D Planet ( http://www.3dplanet.com ), a Los Angeles-based software company, is developing a line of Windows products that allow users to create personalized 3D characters that live on the desktop and the Internet. These characters, called 3D Assistants, become lifelike, moving, speaking, personal assistants having functionality (intelligence) depending on the users requirements.

Electric Cafe ( http://www.eleccafe.com ), a San Francisco-based 3D software company, offers ModelShop VR, which combines a simple interface with a tool set (including true Boolean subtraction and intersection, bezier curve tools, texture mapping, and a new cross sectional modeler) reportedly exports efficient (i.e., small) VRML 2.0 files.

Event Location: Silicon Graphics Corporate Offices in Mountain View (The big building with all the windows right off the freeway)


-Take the Shoreline blvd. exit off hwy 101.

-Head East toward the shoreline amphitheater -turn right on Pear Avenue, just past the Silicon Graphics sign and take the first right into the building 20 parking lot -The event is in the Cafe in building 20

To be added to the mailing list or be a presenter, contact Katherine P Bretz: mailto:kbretz@fsc.fujitsu.com




About Spectrum

Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review.

Send your interactive multimedia business, product, people, event, or technology news to: duberman@dnai.com. We prefer to receive news by email but if you must, telephone breaking news to 510-549-2894. Send review product and press kits by mail to David Duberman, 1609 Addison St. #6, Berkeley, CA 94703.

If you contact companies or organizations mentioned here, please tell them you saw the news in Spectrum. Thanks.


(c)Copyright 1997 Motion Blur Media. All rights reserved. No reproduction in any for-profit or revenue-generating venue in any form without written permission from the publisher.