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Bryce is Back!

A Q&A with Bryan Brandenburg of DAZ Productions on the future of Bryce By Dave Nagel
It's been a circuitous path for Bryce, the 3D landscaping and animation tool originally developed by software legends Kai Krause and Eric Wenger. It's an application that has changed management about as often as it's changed direction, moving to MetaCreations and then to Corel, where, after it launched for Mac OS X, it then stagnated for about four years until it was dropped from the Mac platform altogether. Now, however, Bryce is in the hands of DAZ Productions, and the software's new owners seem to be bringing it back on course--especially for the Mac--with a new versions planned for release starting in the fall.

For those who don't know, DAZ Productions started off as a developer of content for Poser (another former MetaCreations application now owned by E Frontier) and makes the popular Michael and Victoria 3D models, among many other products for Poser. In recent years the company has also branched off with its own line of applications, including DAZ | Studio, a 3D design tool currently in beta, and DAZ | Mimic, a facial animation/lip sync studio for Poser, DAZ | Studio and NewTek LightWave.

Since DAZ acquired Bryce, the company's first move was to re-release the Mac version of the program. DAZ has also announced that it has "extensive development plans" for Bryce, including new versions for Mac and Windows, as well as plans to integrate existing DAZ content into Bryce seamlessly. I had a chance to discuss the acquisition and specific development plans for Bryce with Bryan Brandenburg, chief profit officer for DAZ Productions. Brandenburg has been involved in technology companies for the last 20 years and has contributed to the success of a variety of software titles, including Norton Utilities and AntiVirus, Disney's A Bug's Life and others. At DAZ, he's currently responsible for mergers and acquisitions and new market development.

DAVID NAGEL: Can you tell me how Bryce wound up at DAZ and how you see it fitting into your product lineup?

BRYAN BRANDENBURG: We have one of the largest libraries of content on the Internet and certainly the most versatile 3D figures available. We are in beta with DAZ | Studio, so this gives us a character solution. Many of our customers use Bryce and landscapes, so it was just a logical next step for DAZ. The three components are highly complementary, especially when we extend the compatibility between each piece.

NAGEL: You've come right out of the gate announcing the reintroduction of Bryce for Mac OS X. (Why it was ever discontinued I'll never know.) What sort of impact do you think its discontinuation by Corel for Mac OS X is going to have on its reception this time around? Obviously Bryce has always had something of a cult following, so will there be any impact at all? And how has the reception been so far?

BRANDENBURG: There's seems to be a lot of excitement and hope from the Mac community. We've always supported Mac with Mimic and Studio. People seem to be glad that something is happening on the Mac side. We know we have a lot of work to do, but many of our customers use the Mac, so we'll continue to invest in it and make the best products we can.

NAGEL: Everybody who gets a hold of Bryce wants to put their own mark on it. Are you going to change the user interface much?

BRANDENBURG: We are in the process of evaluating the UI, not for the next release which will come out this fall, but for the next major rev, which won't be available until next year. Even the original designers have concurred that there has been a bit of patching to the UI and the simplicity and elegance that initially captured people's imagination has been tarnished. We'll focus on workflow and effeciency but also want to maintain the playful nature of the original interface.

The current workspace in Bryce 5

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