by David Nagel
Last week's Siggraph show
in New Orleans should have been the best ever for Macintosh. After all, NAB was
a smashing success, with the Mac taking center stage in the minds and hearts of
creative professionals. And with the recent announcement of multiprocessing G4s,
to which developers have had access for some time now, you'd think this would
mean big things for Mac animation.
After all, Macintosh is
the platform of choice for all artists, right? No? Well, surely it's not Windows.
What then? Irix? That's a beautiful operating system from SGII dare say
nicer than the (current) Mac OSrunning on some of the most impressive hardware
you'll find anywhere. But no. Not even SGI walked away from the show the big winner.
"But Dave," you
say, "Linux is a networking OS. You can't actually do anything creative on
it. And besides, unlike Windows, Linux doesn't have any big companies handing
developers kickbacks for writing applications."
I thought. But it turns out that, even without kickbacks, developers
like writing for Linux. And they have great hardware to run their
programs onfrom Alpha machines to SGI Linux boxes. Yes, SGI
Linux boxes. This Linux business is certainly getting out of hand.
Why, I even discovered that Creative Mac has a sister site called
put out by our very own parent company, Digital Media Net.
So what happened to Mac
development? Five words echoed by developers at the show: "We're waiting
for OS X."
"Oooooooh. So that's
it," you say. "Well, that's good news, isn't it? It means developers
are interested in OS X."
Well, yes. That's the good
part. But does it mean they're waiting to release products when
OS X is released, or does it mean they're waiting to see whether
OS X catches on before they start developing for it? I don't know.
Long before the show, we saw Mac animation announcements like Maya
for OS X. But very little actually announced during the Siggraph
show, which would have been the ideal place to announce OS X ports,
even if they wouldn't be immediately available. This tells me that
there will be a lag between the release of OS X and any high-end
animation products that haven't been announced by now.
Still, there was some good
news coming out of New Orleans. NewTek, for example, showed off a network renderer
running on the new dual-processing Macs. Boris FX launched Boris
RED2. And Cinema 4D XL got an update
to 6.1. We saw several announcements for future releases as well, such as
Flash 5, Poser
and Swift 3D.
Quality, yes. Quantity,
no. It looks like we're going to have to wait another year to see whether animation
developers start caring as much about the Mac as video and audio developers. By
that time, Jobs willing, we'll have a brand-spanking new OS, one that will be
much easier to develop for, particularly for those companies that have started
honing their Unix skills on Linux.
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