Editorial: The visual thing
By David Leishman,
There were plenty of Mac-related announcements this week at the Siggraph trade show: Apple unleashed
Motion, its new real-time motion graphics design software, and issued updates to a variety of its video-related apps; and Alias announced the long-awaited Mac OS X version of its high-end 3D design and animation software,
But perhaps the announcements with the farthest-reaching graphical implications were made by the display divisions of
Kodak, and Silicon Graphics (SGI) and the OpenGL Architecture Review Board (ARB). The first pair introduced 3D monitors that will work for professionals and consumers alike, and the latter pair announced the imminent arrival of the
OpenGL 2.0 specification.
The new displays are the initial salvos in affordable desktop 3D displays, and as such are accompanied by marketing phrases that rely on familiar imagery — “You don’t need special 3D glasses,” says Sharp, and Kodak likens its system to “IMAX on the desktop.” Three years from now, of course, they’ll be as outdated as black-and-white TVs, but in the interim they’ll be of inestimable value to research and higher-education labs. And according to MacCentral’s Peter Cohen, they’re ideal for “well-heeled gamers looking for an even more immersive 3D experience.”
The monitors use very different technologies. Sharp’s
LL-151-3D sandwiches two TFT panels around a parallax barrier to send a different pattern to each of the viewer’s eyes, and the Kodak’s
3D Stereo Display employs a lens technology with mirrors and two LCD panels. The Sharp looks like a standard flat-screen and is best viewed from about 10 inches away, and the Kodak uses a cowl like those seen in old penny-arcade
But what the technologies share is a reliance on the
OpenGL standard for their advanced performance. OpenGL was originally developed by SGI to streamline the development of visualization functions such as rendering and texture mapping, and to provide developers with direct access to graphics hardware acceleration. The spec was made open and platform-independent in 1992 and placed under the auspices of the ARB.
Apple is one of the twelve voting members of the ARB and has fully integrated OpenGL support in Mac OS X. OpenGL 2.0 is expected to be ratified soon, and while Apple hasn’t made any statements yet about adding support for it, it does seem a foregone conclusion that the company will adopt it, although perhaps not in time for the release early next year of Tiger.
Given all the cheers this year for Apple’s audio-related endeavors, it’s reassuring to note that the company is keeping an eye, as well as an ear, on the future.
P.S. One other word on visual joy for Mac-based desktop publishers: Although Apple doesn’t offer monitors that pivot from landscape to portrait orientation, and pivoting isn’t natively supported in Mac OS X, ATI’s
Radeon 9800 Pro Mac and Special (for G5’s) Editions do support it and can be used with the new crop of rotating monitors.
Apple releases Motion
Apple on Tuesday released Motion, its long-awaited real-time motion graphics design application aimed at video professionals and others. Motion integrates with Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro, and enables users to generate sophisticated motion effects without having to deal with keyframes. The $299 application includes Compressor, which enables users to encode QuickTime files to MPEG-2 and MPEG-4.
Apple releases Mac OS X 10.3.5
Apple on Monday released Mac OS X 10.3.5, available for download through the Software Update system preference pane. The new version “delivers enhanced functionality and improved reliability,” according to Apple, which recommends it for all users. Key changes include improved support for NTFS formatted volumes, updated ATI and NVIDIA graphics drivers, improved Bluetooth compatibility for Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mouse and Bluetooth phones, and additional FireWire and USB device compatibility.
Apple introduces Production Suite
iTunes Music Store tops a million songs in US
iSync 1.5 adds support for new phones
DVD Studio Pro update improves general stability, more
Apple posts Pro Application Support 2.1
Apple releases Compressor Update 1.2.1
Apple Hardware and
Apple Software forums.
Altec Lansing introduces iMmini speaker system
Altec Lansing announced iMmini, a new portable audio system for iPod mini users. The iMmini, which is 41 percent smaller than the company’s inMotion system, features digital amplification, neodymium micro drivers and “MaxxBass” technology. It sports a front-mounted docking bay and can be used with other audio devices with an included 3.5mm auxiliary input cable, and is expected to ship “in late summer” for US$129.95.
Sharp brings 3D monitor to the desktop without goggles
Kodak shows 3D Stereo Display ‘IMAX on the desktop’ system
CMS ships 100GB ABSplus portable backup drive
Wireless Scanabout 800 barcode scanner uses Bluetooth
Nvidia profits drop on ‘challenging’ Q2
Alias ships Maya Unlimited for OS X, more
Alias on Tuesday announced the release of Maya Unlimited for Mac OS X, their US$6,999 3D design and animation software package that bundles the company’s previously released Maya Complete software with advanced special effects kits. The company also announced two new bundle offers, Maya Platinum Bundle, and Maya Productivity Pack for US$2,199 each, and released the Maya 6 Personal Learning Edition that’s free for non-commercial use.
OpenGL 2.0 spec announced
Cinema 4D Release 9 adds export to FCP, more
NI makes B4, FM7, Pro-53 demos available
iDevGames announces uDevGames 2004 contest
Filemaker Pro 7 upgrade program ends Sept. 17
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