April 1999 General Meeting Report
By Don Essick, Vice President Macintosh Programs
Well, this position continues to be a challenge. Adobe has been scheduled for this meeting for several months. That was great so far as I was concerned, first because they have a great and varied product line and second, because having a meeting booked well in advance gives us plenty of time to get it on the calendar and into the Journal so more people know about it. Unfortunately, due to an unplanned trip to Texas, I didn't get around to re-confirming the Adobe meeting until the Wednesday before the meeting. I got concerned when the scheduled presenter hadn't called for directions or any last minute questions. The reason he didn't is that someone at Adobe had failed to notify him that he was presenting at all. Not only that, he was on his way to Texas for training that weekend as were all of the Adobe sales and support people. Oops.
In a major panic, I called the one person who will listen to me whine without getting all upset, Beth Medlin, our office manager. She immediately came up with a few suggestions and started to make phone calls, as did I. Fortunately, we have several instructors who give Adobe product tutorials at the Pi office and one of them, Pat Fauquet, agreed to do a couple of demos. We also got a member to volunteer his son to do a demo of a 3D graphics program. Plus, the Adobe User Group coordinator was so chagrined that she told us to give away all of the software and that she would re-schedule for August or September!
Now that you know the background, here is the story. We started, as usual with the Question and Answer session and announcements. Our first presenter was Teague Clare, a developer associated with Electricimage Software. Teague is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School and a professional developer!? As the father of a high school sophomore, you have no idea how much hope that gives me!
Electricimage is a high-end tool for creating and rendering 3D graphics. And when I say high-end, I mean expensive and powerful. The package is $2,995 and if you purchase it before June 15, 1999 (too late by the time you read this) you get a free iMac!
Just in case you are interested check out http://www.electricimage.com/1nab99.html to see if the offer may have been extended.
Teague demonstrated some very detailed and impressive interactive 3D graphics of a tire and wheel that he had created. For those of us who are not familiar with 3D graphics, they consume a large amount of computer power to generate and render onto the screen. Every image on the screen is made up of a huge number of polygons, each of which is attached to a number of properties such as color, transparency, etc. To be able to rotate and otherwise manipulate such an image in real time on a desktop computer is quite a mathematical feat.
Electricimage is the software many professional broadcasters use to create the sexy 3D animated text and graphics we see on the tube as well as in advertising and other media. The list of things you can do is nearly endless. You can have multiple light sources and cameras so that you can create virtual highlights and shadows and view your creation from almost any angle. You can then use a variety of tools and plug-ins to distort, texture, extrude and otherwise play with your creation.
Teague did a wonderfully professional job and I sincerely thank him for coming to Pi on short notice to bail me out. If you need more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to their web site at http://www.electricimage.com.
Next Pat Fauquet took to stage to demonstrate some of Adobe's products. Pat is a Pi Board member and also teaches tutorials at the Pi. Due to a phone call, I missed the first part of Pat's presentation. I understand she gave a demo of Acrobat. Sorry I can't give you many details. Probably most of us have seen Acrobat at work. It allows you to faithfully display a formatted document on any platform that will run Acrobat. This makes it great for web publishing, cross platform electronic publishing, etc.
Next we saw a fine demo of Adobe PhotoDeluxe 2.0. Since I recently purchased a digital camera that came with the previous version of PhotoDeluxe, I was pleased to see that the newer version of the program has some nice new features.
PhotoDeluxe has a step-by-step interface that hand-holds you through each step of the process of creating a project. It contains a fairly large collection of things like cards, calendars, frames and clip-art for placing your photograph in or on.
The first step is getting your photograph into PhotoDeluxe. PhotoDeluxe can import directly from digital cameras, scanners, Photo CDs, the Internet and other sources. You must have a TWAIN compliant scanner or camera or a camera driver for this to work smoothly. Otherwise, get your image onto disk before starting.
Once you have an image, it is a simple process to do some pretty sophisticated manipulation. There is an "instant fix" which can correct color, brightness and other minor flaws. There is also an "automatic" remove red eye function to get rid of that annoying red eye effect caused by electronic flashes bouncing off the retina. Personally, I've had mixed results with it, but it is better than an un-retouched photo. You can even re-color the eyes in your picture if you want. Next you can crop, rotate and re-size your photo for use in your project.
The neatest new feature in PhotoDeluxe 2.0 is the ability to use multiple layers to combine multiple photos or photos and other art into a single project. You can use a variety of selection tools to select parts of photographs for cutting or copying to or from a layer. This is how you can take your head and paste it on the body of Arnold Schwartzenegger.
When you have finished manipulating your project, you can save it, publish it to the web or print it on a photo-quality printer.
For those who attended the meeting there was an order form for significant user group savings on Adobe products. Adobe has promised to return in August or September to demonstrat additional products. Adobe generously provided a mound of products to give away. Pi members walked off with copies of Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe ImageReady, Adobe ImageStyler, Adobe PhotoDeluxe and Adobe PageMill as well as lots of T-shirts and other goodies from various vendors.
Next month, Apple Computer will be back, hopefully to introduce Mac OS 8.6. It is due about now if they keep on their schedule and word has it that it will be announced at the World Wide Developer Conference in San Jose, California. The WWDC is the week is the 10 - 14th of May. J.D. Mankovsky will be taking the red-eye back from the conference to be with us. Also attending will be Barrett Thompson, who will present Apple's new QuickTime 4 and FinalCut, an interactive digital video editing package specifically designed to take advantage of the new FireWire capabilities bulit into the newer digital video cameras. Also don't forget the Computer Show and Sale in the Gymnasium on June 5. See you there!
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Revised August 7, 1999 Lawrence I. Charters
Washington Apple Pi