24 January 2000
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Just out from JafSoft Limited is AscToHTM 3.2 for Windows 95/98/NT, a program that converts plain text files (.txt) into HTML Web pages. It converts text files using text-recognition algorithms that detect the document's structure. These can recognize headings, bullets, lists, indentation, URLs, tables, ASCII art and more. The resulting HTML is said to reflect the structure of the original document. The program also turns URLs into hyperlinks, adds color to pages, and creates a hyperlinked contents list from headings.
Program options let advanced users add titles, colors, tags and other features. Selected options may be saved in "policy files" for reuse next time the user runs the program.
Recent changes include drag and drop support, recognition of mail and Usenet headers and a tagging system that lets the user add hyperlinks and conversion timestamps document. The interface can be switched to German, Spanish or Portuguese, although the documentation is in English.
AscToHTM 3.2 costs $40(US) for a single-user license. Site licenses are available, and the software is made available free to FAQ maintainers. For more information visit http://www.jafsoft.com/asctohtm or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. A 30-day trial can be downloaded from http://www.jafsoft.com/download/windows/aschtm32.zip (1.3Mb) .
WireFusion is a new $450 Java programming tool from the Swedish software company Demicron. The program is a drag-and-drop visual programming tool developed for creating Java applets and illustrations. Written in Java 2 lets users visually connect preprogrammed objects with different functions to create interactive Java 1.0-compatible applets and illustrations. WireFusion is intended primarily for Web site developers and Web designers.
Germany-based Steinberg, a provider of music and audio technologies, last week released its Model-E Virtual Analog Synth. It has 16 multitimbral parts, up to 64 voices and 8 outputs per instrument. The Model-E utilizes the VST 2.0 engine, giving it integration with Cubase for no latency. Model-E's outputs appear directly in the VST mixer so that effects and EQ can be applied like any audio channel in realtime. All Model-E settings are automatically saved with song files and the final mix can be streamed out to an audio file.
In addition, the Model-E is reportedly the first software synthesizer optimized for the Apple Macintosh G4 Velocity Engine. Additional features of the Model-E Virtual Analog Synth include:
The Model E Analog Synth is currently available for both Macintosh and Windows platforms from Steinberg dealers or online at www.us.steinberg.net for a MSRP of US$199.
Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) last week launched a new version of its FAST Search found at http://www.alltheWeb.com. The company claims its service provides users with relevant results based on newly developed algorithms and is built from an initial database of over 700 million visited Web documents, the most ever visited by any search engine. With over 300 million Web documents in its new catalog, FAST Search is the world's biggest search engine according to industry experts Danny Sullivan (http://www.searchenginewatch.com) and Greg Notess (http://www.notess.com).
Be Incorporated plans to shift its resources to focus primarily on the growing Internet appliance market. The upcoming version 5 of the BeOS desktop operating system will be available for personal use at no charge beginning later in the first quarter of 2000. At that time, individuals who register with Be at http://free.be.com will be able to download BeOS 5 for free. Be also intends to work with publishers and other partners to make commercial versions of BeOS 5 available through retail channels.
Be's product for the Internet appliance market is code-named Stinger, a software solution for appliances that deliver information and entertainment over the Web. Based on BeOS, Stinger is customizable, offers a browser and supports popular streaming audio and video standards.
In a related story, the company says it is contemplating the filing of a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a public offering of its common stock. The timing and size of the offering are dependent on market conditions and other factors.
The week of April 23-30, 2000 marks the fourth biennial Global Art Project (GAP) exchange, a multicultural, multimedia event that has linked approximately 30,000 participants on six continents who choose to share their creative visions of a world at peace. Headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, with the direction of founder Katherine Josten, GAP provides a worldwide matching system that lets individuals and groups exchange art as a "Gift of Global Friendship." The exchange will result in thousands of messages of Peace and Friendship simultaneously encircling the Earth during the last week of April.
Timetable for GAP 2000 Exchange:
For additional information, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Global Art Project, PO Box 40445, Tucson, AZ 85717, USA.
Raindrop Geomagic, Inc. last week announced Release 2.0 of its flagship product, Geomagic Studio. The software automates the creation of non-uniform rational B-splines (NURBS) surfaces from point cloud and polygonal information.
Features of Geomagic Studio 2.0 include:
Geomagic Studio includes Geomagic Shape, Geomagic Wrap and Geomagic Decimate. Each application can be used independently, and work together in an integrated interface.
Credo Interactive last week shipped Active Avatars, a scaleable Avatar solution for Active Worlds builders. Actions supplied with the Avatars include: break dance, cheer, fall, laugh, magic, no, rude, shrug, sit, sleep, and walk. The collection is available in a variety of file formats that provide a range of solutions from drag-and-drop to fully editable.
Ulead Systems last week released the second version of its GIF-X.Plugin, a $40 Adobe Photoshop plug-in designed to create still and animated special effects. The new version adds motion and lighting special effects to images and lets users create GIF animations from directly within Adobe Photoshop, Jasc Paint Shop Pro and other 32-bit, Photoshop plug-in-compatible image editors. It offers 10 new light effects, such as lightning, fireworks, lens flare, halo, spotlight, meteor, comet and laser. The effects are customizable and include key frame control for creating animations. GIF-X.Plugin can also output image sequences and still-image effects.
Boxx Technologies, a provider of digital content-creation tools, plans to develop Linux versions of its series of 3DBOXX workstations and RenderBOXX rendering systems.
"Linux is coming on strong as a powerful, viable operating system for the creative content community," says Todd Bryant, president and CEO of BOXX Technologies. "As more software providers continue to develop for Linux, artists and animators will want, and come to expect, Linux support on their hardware."
The RenderBOXX series combines rendering technology with Intel Pentium processors. These dedicated rendering units are available in 1U, 2U, 4U, and 7U configurations, which can be customized for individual needs. In an effort to provide open solutions for the digital content community, RenderBOXX supports materials libraries and popular 3D design and animation software, including 3D Studio MAX, Lightwave 3D, Maya, SoftImage and others.
Ashland, Oregon-based Aftermath Media, creator of the interactive DVD movie, "Tender Loving Care," and supplier DVD International are teaming up to create the made-for-DVD film, "The Watcher." Production will begin in February 2000 under Aftermath Media's new Digital Circus banner, and "The Watcher" will be developed for a linear theatrical release as well as for home viewing on interactive DVD. Co-founded by Rob Landeros of 7th Guest fame and David Wheeler, Aftermath Media explores ways to approach the art of storytelling via digital interactive media.
"The Watcher" is a suspense story about obsession, art, eroticism and murder. It follows the story of a beautiful and mysterious artist named Jane -- a recluse who avoids human contact and expresses herself only through art. Jane develops a strange attraction for a neighbor and begins spying on him and taking photographs of him to create composite drawings of the two of them together. Jane also observes and draws her friend Mary, who has a "lonely hearts" relationship with an anonymous man. Eventually, all their lives become entangled in a case of mistaken identity which leads to dangerous and bizarre events, both real and imagined.
Said Wheeler, "DVD technology has allowed us to apply computer-based interactivity to mainstream movie-making ..."
Interactive Digital Intelligence Group (IDIG) last week released Channels and Masking [Part Two], a new video in its Photoshop Inside & Out learning series. Channels are at the heart of most advanced image-processing tasks in Photoshop, and Photoshop maven David Biedny has spent years learning how to make them yield their secrets.
The tape continues the discussion of the power of Photoshop's channel-processing and image modes, including details of the issues involved with making complex selections, creating and editing alpha channels, and more. Practical examples of using channel information for deriving masks are explored, and techniques for enhancing alpha channels (such as interactive choking and spreading) are demonstrated.
The State of Game Technology 2000, a new 200-page report from DFC Intelligence, claims that video games and interactive entertainment are of prime strategic importance in the race to provide consumer online and broadband services.
Furthermore, the upcoming fight to establish next-generation video game platforms could become the key consumer electronics battle over the next decade. "The game industry is forecasted to become a $20 billion worldwide business in the next two years," said David Cole, president of DFC Intelligence. "However the impact of the interactive entertainment industry is much greater than the revenue it generates. Game hardware systems are likely to become hybrid devices that consumers use for many forms of digital entertainment including music, movies, Web access and interactive television."
The report examines the next-generation console systems, including the Sega Dreamcast, the Sony PlayStation 2, the Nintendo Dolphin and the Microsoft X-Box.
According to DFC, Sony's system is forecasted to be the market leader. "The PlayStation 2 is an ambitious system that will have the capability to play DVD movies, access the Internet and act as a complete 'Entertainment Box,' what we call an eBox," said Ben Sawyer, one of the principal authors of the report.
Nevertheless, the report raises questions about how dominant the PlayStation 2 will be. "The PlayStation 2 may turn out to be nothing more than a great game machine. Whether people use the PS2 to watch movies or access the Internet remains to be seen," said Sawyer. DFC believes that Nintendo, Sega and Microsoft could provide a strong challenge to the PlayStation 2.
In the long term, DFC believes that video game hardware devices will be a leading provider of multiple forms of digital entertainment products and services. However, it may take five to ten years for this to occur. "Major media companies and online service providers are currently not focused on games," said Cole. "America Online and Time Warner are merging to become a complete interactive services provider. Despite this, the one thing missing from this merger is games." Cole claims that games are likely to become a major reason that consumers subscribe to broadband services. Because of this, large game software publishers, like Electronic Arts, could become key strategic players in the broadband services race.
The State of Game Technology 2000 examines the critical aspects of the interactive entertainment industry, including PC hardware, video game console systems, 3D graphics, sound, development tools, peripherals, portable systems, online games, wireless gaming and location based entertainment.
For more information, contact DFC at 858/780-9680 or go to www.dfcint.com.
The first annual Microsoft TV Interactive Pitch event will be hosted at NATPE 2000 in New Orleans on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 25-26, 2000, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will be held on the show floor at the Webstation Lounge Theatre, Booth 3653. Microsoft TV Interactive Pitch is designed to identify, spotlight and jump-start the hottest interactive television programming ideas and talent.
Today, Jan. 24, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., auditions will be held in which NATPE 2000 attendees will have 60 seconds to pitch their best new interactive television program ideas to a panel of judges that includes leading Hollywood development, production and broadband executives. Anyone with a creative idea for a new interactive television program is encouraged to participate.
The event will be streamed live from the show floor on Jan. 25 and 26th at http://www.natpe.org/. NATPE new media partner E-Poll.com will offer consumers the chance to vote for their favorite interactive-TV ideas on the Web site, then compare their choices with those of the industry professionals.
Participants must be registered for NATPE 2000 and have their badge (exhibitor, attendee or day pass) with them. During auditions on Jan. 24, 100 Microsoft TV Interactive Pitch competitors will have 60 seconds to pitch their interactive TV project to a small panel of judges. Thirty qualifiers will be selected and announced the evening of the 24th. A winner will be selected from each of two groups of 15 pitches that follow at the Web Station Theater on the Jan. 25 and 26.
According to a recent report by Forrester Research Inc., interactive television will generate $11 billion in advertising, $7 billion in commerce, and $2 billion in subscription revenues by 2004. Enhanced broadcasts will be available in 24 million homes, and will generate $6.2 billion in advertising revenues and $3.8 billion in commerce in that same time frame. Forrester predicts that early-mover cable and satellite operators will be the primary beneficiaries of this surge in interactive TV activity.
Congratulations to Spectrum reader Brian Zisk, a member of the Green Witch team. The Internet radio site was picked up last week by CMGI, Inc., a network of Internet companies. Green Witch Internet radio runs on Icecast, open-source audio streaming server software based on MP3 technology. Green Witch will become part of iCAST.
Icecast is an open source MP3 streaming server under the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) that allows programmers to alter its code to better suit their particular needs, or improve the streaming audio sound quality for their audience. Green Witch shares its software innovations to Icecast freely with the open source community under the GNU GPL. Green Witch's scalable, multi-processor Linux cluster, which allows a large number of songs to be efficiently prepared for Internet radio broadcasting, will allow iCAST to offer independent musicians an easy way to have their music heard online. iCAST and Green Witch will continue working with the open source programming community to develop new forms of streaming audio and video technology and to further advance the growth of free online music.
Cnet, Inc. plans to acquire the mySimon comparison shopping service for approximately 11.3 million shares of Cnet common stock, valued at approximately $700 million as of the close of the market on Wednesday. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter. Cnet says the acquisition of mySimon will let it expand its content model into 250 categories with hundreds of millions of products. Cnet.com will continue to be focused on computers and technology, and mySimon will maintain its own brand, management team and staff.
Sony Computer Entertainment America last week released TOMBA! 2 The Evil Swine
Return for the PlayStation game console. The title combines 3D graphics with platform-style gameplay and role-playing game (RPG) elements,
TOMBA! 2 The Evil Swine Return follows the pink-haired hero on a new fantastical adventure. Novice players can select a less complicated, whimsical journey, while experienced players can choose a more elaborate path full of challenging sub-quests and obstacles.
Players follow Tomba as he embarks on a new adventure to save his girlfriend from the band of evil pigs who have kidnapped her. Tomba must perform basic moves, acquire special actions and discover new items and weapons to assist him in warding off the enemies.
To perform special actions, Tomba must equip himself with magical clothes that allow him new moves and powers, including:
With more than 150 new items and weapons to discover, Tomba can obtain a blackjack, boomerang, grapple, heavy duty hammer and more.
iEntertainment Network, a provider and operator of Internet entertainment communities, has partnered with Worlds Apart Productions to create The Eternal City 3D, a 3D massively multiplayer role-playing game that will be developed using an open-source game engine and will feature a Linux version of its game client. iEN announced earlier this month that it will begin developing Internet games for the growing Linux community.
The Eternal City 3D will reportedly combine role-playing and simulation gaming in a detailed virtual world based on ancient Rome. Players will race chariots, fight as gladiators, or lead armies, while striving for political and economic power. Players will also be able to team up with others from around the world to search, explore and ultimately dominate the vast online terrain.
Boxerjam.com, a provider of primetime gameshows online, has entered into a marketing agreement with Yahoo! in which several Boxerjam.com gameshows, including "Strike A Match," "Out of Order," "Take 5," and "Napoleon," are available on Yahoo! Games.
"For many people, Boxerjam's online gameshows have replaced television as a way to relax at the end of the day," said Allen Cunningham, President of Boxerjam.
Currently, Boxerjam offers 12 family-based games at www.boxerjam.com. Boxerjam's games are produced by Jeopardy! co-creator Julann Griffin. Boxerjam's audience is more than 80 percent female, 70 percent of who have children in the household. Peak usage occurs during primetime evening hours, with more than 120,000 people tuning in to play Boxerjam gameshows each day and over 2.5 million unique visitors per month.
Jon Peddie Associates (JPA), a market research firm covering digital media technology, last week announced findings from its market study: Software Tools and Applications - Digital Content Creation. The study charts the growth of 3D professional and prosumer development tools over the last several years and predicts their growth, in both sales and units shipped, through the year 2003.
In addition to predicting total market sales of more than one billion dollars in 2003, the study also predicts the numbers of units to be shipped to grow to nearly 1.1 million in 2003.
"Digital content creation continues to see rapid growth as a market, driven by the need to create ever more dynamic and compelling content for the entertainment industries," said
Michael Arrington, director of software research for JPA.
"These industries, from broadcast to film to games, have for the past several years been forced to generate huge volumes of compelling 3D content to please their demanding
The Software Tools and Applications - Digital Content Creation is available now. Hard copy is $3,750 and electronic copies are $5,000. For more information or sales, contact Carol Robinson at 415/383-1582 or email@example.com. Or visit the JPA website at www.jpa.com to download the full table of contents.
Online advertising revenue marked its first billion dollar plus quarter as advertising revenues hit $1.2 billion for the third quarter of 1999, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau's (IAB) Internet Ad Revenue Report, conducted independently by the New Media Group of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Third-quarter 1999 revenues grew 148 percent over the same period in 1998, and $283 million (30 percent) over the second quarter of 1999. Year-to-date online ad revenues for 1999 have now hit $2.8 billion, more than doubling (125 percent) the first three quarters of 1998.
The categories that led online spending during the second quarter were: Consumer-related (32 percent), Computing (21 percent), Financial Services (19 percent), Telecom (6 percent) and Business Services (5 percent), The report also found that the overwhelming number of revenue transactions, (94 percent) continue to be cash-based with barter/trade and packaged deals accounting for 5 percent and 1 percent of total revenues respectively.
Interactive expert Celia Pearce has accepted a research consulting and teaching position at the University of Southern California. Since fall of 1999, Ms. Pearce has been serving as an Adjunct Professor in USC School of Cinema-Television's newly formed Interactive Multimedia Program, doing research on interactive narrative at the Annenberg Center for Communication, and developing autonomous characters using artificial intelligence technology at USC's Information Sciences Institute. Among her responsibilities are developing new models for interactive storytelling and producing educational programs and conferences on interactive media. Ms. Pearce will also continue to develop her work as a multimedia and performance artist, and plans several new book projects further exploring themes introduced in her first text, The Interactive Book: A Guide to the Interactive Revolution (Macmillan), published in 1997.
Since the tragic demise of its president last year, some wondered about the future of 3D world-building software maker AnimaTek International. But not to worry: The San Francisco-based company announced last week that John Ray has joined the executive team to head global business development. Ray will develop and manage the implementation of AnimaTek’s strategy to grow its worldwide business for tools and technologies. His specific responsibilities include managing the sales and marketing for AnimaTek’s flagship product, World Builder, as well as expanding business for other AnimaTek technologies and in-house talent.
Prior to joining AnimaTek, Ray managed Asian sales for the software company, Extensis Corp. There he helped grow the company’s sales into Asia through expanded distribution channels. Previously, Ray was responsible for the sales, marketing and account management in Japan for MetaCreations Corp., where he helped grow annual Japan sales from $2 million to $12 million. Ray has also held positions with Sega Enterprises, Inc. and Bullet-Proof Software, Inc.
Seybold Seminars is creating a special showcase highlighting an emerging area of publishing: electronic books (e-Books). The e-Book, pavilion opening on Wednesday, February 9, is designed to educate professionals on this growing technology and present a variety of opportunities that digital tomes offer. The pavilion is part of Seybold Seminars Boston/Publishing 2000 Conference and Exposition at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts, February 7 -11, 2000.
Vendors such as Adobe, Everybook, Glassbook, ibooks.com, Mazer, Overdrive Systems, Rocket ebook, SoftBook Press, Inc., Ebrary.com and Infinite Ink will be on-hand to introduce and discuss their e-Book products and solutions. The pavilion will focus on e-Book solutions including reader formats, rights management, distribution management and document security. In addition to the pavilion, Microsoft will present during the Publishing Strategies Conference a dedicated e-Book session focusing on the latest developments in e-Book technology.
The third annual Variety's Interactive Summit, a gathering of entertainment industry folk, will be held February 2-4 at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, California.
Through seminars, symposiums and workshops featuring industry executives, the conference will focus on the impact convergence will have on the entertainment industry and underscore how interactive media and the Web are driving entertainment, redefining how entertainment products are marketed, sold and delivered to the public. It will also spotlight distribution, strategic mergers, acquisitions and partnerships.
Tapped to serve as keynote speaker is Strauss Zelnick, president and CEO of Bertelsmann Music Group, a $4.6 billion music and entertainment company with more than 200 record labels and operations in 53 countries.
The summit will also feature Myer Berlow, president, Interactive Marketing of America Online, Inc.; Rick Hess, president of Propaganda Films; Paul Nolgows, senior analyst of Hambrecht & Quist; Ed Sullivan, CEO/president of Pittard Sullivan; Jonathan Taplin, cofounder & co-CEO of Intertainer; Jim Banister, executive vice president of Warner Bros. Online; Josh Greer, CEO of Digital Domain; Yoram Roth, cofounder, chairman of Rotor.net; David Wertheimer, chairman & CEO of Wirebreak.com; Gary Arlen, president of Arlen Communications; Nicholas Butterworth, president and CEO of The MTVi Group; Ken Goldstein, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Online; Andrew Nibley, president & CEO of GetMusic.com; Lisa Simpson, president of Sony Online Entertainment; John Lack, CEO of Digitar; Stewart Alsop, new media commentator; columnist of Fortune Magazine; William J. Grimes, partner of BG Media; Larry Kasanoff, founder & chairman of Threshold Entertainment; and Thomas S. Wurster, vice president of The Boston Consulting Group.
(sorry, no contact info was provided -ed.)
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.
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