March 6

The Next Mac Revolution
Desktop video comes to the masses

by David Nagel
Senior Producer

Click image to enlarge.

Last week a comrade of mine (Rod Ammons, producer of Digital Animators) and I were treated to a FireWire demonstration up at Apple's Design Center in Santa Monica, Calif. We grabbed a quick bite (and by "quick" I mean waiting a half hour for a chicken Philly and some fries down in the food court) and steeled ourselves for a lengthy sales pitch to be followed up three hours later by a drive home through the worst traffic on God's green earth. What we got instead was a three-hour presentation that indoctrinated me into the cult of DV: I saw the light faster than a drunken hillbilly at a revival meeting.

Now, I'm a publishing guy. I have been since the first time I got my hands on a Mac Plus. I didn't start off in that direction by any means, but the Macintosh sucked me in. I was all set to spend the next 10 years in college to get a Ph.D. in English and go off and teach somewhere. But the Mac literally changed the direction of my life. Essentially, going into professional publishing gave me an excuse to play around on a Mac all day. Laying out type, dropping in graphics and seeing the results immediately through the magic of a LaserWriter IINT got my juices flowing like few things could.

I felt the same level of excitement at Apple's Design Center when I got a demonstration of Final Cut Pro running on a G4. It's not the most expensive, the most feature-rich editing software in the world. Yes, it is amazing, absolutely. A solid piece of software. But, more importantly, it was the first look at a DV product I've ever had that truly portended the advent of desktop video. As I sat watching the presentation, I was changing inside. I was moved.

"Dave, have you ever NOT been "moved" by something Apple's done?" you say. "I mean, have you ever said anything negative whatsoever about Apple?"

You just shut your filthy mouth. Sure, I like everything Apple does. Yes, every other word out of my mouth is "Macintosh." Yes, if Steve Jobs started a revolutionary army bent on the destruction of the world, I'd be ninth in line (ninth because eight other guys camped out three days before the enlistment began, and I'm not nuts like them—you know who you are). Hell, I even bought a 7300. But this is different.

The G4 and Final Cut Pro are to video what the original Macs and PageMaker were to publishing. Combined with the Web, cable modems and I.P.-based digital broadcasts, it will mean as much of a change to content delivery as desktop publishing did in the '80s and early '90s, back when large publishing companies were being dragged away from their massively expensive and utterly ridiculous typesetting systems toward a desktop publishing model. If you were there, you'll no doubt remember the resistance: "Photoshop can't produce magazine-quality images;" "this is great for making party invitations but not for putting out a newspaper;" and the like. Obviously, those people have been proved comically wrong. The same will be true of desktop DV: "The Web's too slow;" "desktop computers don't have the processing power to do the job." These will be the rallying cries of people too entrenched, too invested in current systems to accept that their world view is being torn away from them.

Apple is once again heralding a revolution. Desktop video for the masses! It would be nice, if, this time around, they were just able to hold on to it and not bring in a guy from Pepsi to ruin everything, but that's a different column altogether. For now, long live the revolution!

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Dave Nagel is the somewhat brand spankin' new Senior Producer of Creative Mac. An eight-year veteran of the print publishing world, Nagel covered a broad range of topics in the areas of technology and marketing. As a Mac psychofanatic since 1987, he's finally landed his dream job: earning a living writing about his favorite topic. If you have something to say, please send a polite e-mail to [email protected]. (Let's not try to bring him down from his euphoria too soon.)

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