Bryce Joins the OS X Landscape

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To call Corel's relationship with Mac users rocky is like calling the Pacific Ocean wet. Whether it's dropping development of WordPerfect for the Mac or coming out with Mac software after the Windows version has shipped, Corel's business decisions have often left Mac users feeling slighted.

Corel executives concede that their company has an image problem among Mac users and have vowed to improve Corel's reputation. So what better way to make amends with Mac users than by updating an application that's popular among creative professionals and hobbyists alike[~]and by making it available as an OS X-native program to boot?

Thus, the announcement that Bryce 5 should ship by the middle of next month represents more than just the unveiling of the 3-D landscaping tool's latest features. It's also a sign that Corel has taken the criticism of some Mac users to heart and wants to prove its commitment to the platform.

Corel bought Bryce from MetaCreations last year in a purchase that included Painter, KPT, and KPT Vector Effects. Corel's purchase of the MetaCreations graphics applications made many Mac users uneasy, given the company's shaky Mac track record and ongoing reorganization efforts.

To reassure Mac users, Corel released an incremental update to Bryce last August. Version 4.1 added new mapping models. It also released a beta of Bryce for OS X in January. But Version 5 marks the first major update to Bryce under Corel's watch.

Chief among the new features in Bryce 5 is network rendering. Users can now farm out the extremely time-consuming and processor-intensive task of landscape rendering to multiple computers on a network. That's an important addition since Bryce isn't enabled for multiprocessor machines. Included on the Bryce installation CD is a cross-platform client application that lets users apply all available computing power[~]whether it be Mac or PC[~]to dramatically speed up your rendering times.

Bryce's interface sports a few enhancements, with on-screen menu items added, subtracted, and moved for an easier user experience. A Most Recently Used Files list, for instance, gives users faster access to files from recent projects. The Terrain Editor introduced in Bryce 4 is now displayed in floating panels to give users quicker access to more features.

The Sky Lab feature[~]which offered fine control over the sun, moon, and atmospheric elements[~]proved to be so popular in Bryce 4 that Corel added a similar tool in the latest version. There's now Tree Lab for designing and customizing trees as well as a Light Lab for editing the placement and effect of lighting. Bryce 5 also adds support for Metaballs, which are used to create shapes not based on models with tons of render-hungry polygons.

Corel plans to ship Bryce 5 in mid-July for a suggested retail price of $309; owners of previous versions can upgrade for $159. In addition to running in OS X, the Bryce update also works on Mac OS 8.6 and higher.

Expect more OS X-native products from Corel throughout 2001. Painter 7 should ship later this summer. OS X-ready versions of KnockOut 2 and KPT 7 are expected in the fall. Corel also plans a fall release for the OS X version of its flagship product, CorelDraw 10.

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